Monday, April 6, 2009

yecch to KNOWING. warning: movie spoiler ahead.

I love movies, and i try to go every friday night. i go alone, i buy a bag of popcorn (medium size) which becomes my dinner along with a bottle of water, and i settle down for a nice evening. it's a great break from a week of working hard, and frankly, even if they showed a blank screen up there for me to stare at, i think i would be just as happy. it's mostly the idea of getting away from my computer before it drains my brains totally out of my skull. in other words, i'm not very discriminating.
along the way, i've seen some terrific movies (Wall-E) and some fun movies, (Monsters vs Aliens) and some clunkers. Sometimes the clunkers are just badly written, badly acted (Kevin Costner in Swing Vote, yechh) and i get what i deserve. (I also took my mother to that last one, because she wanted to see it, so it was an act of daughterly kindness that i sat through it). the bad ones do irritate me because they are so, well, stoopid, even if they do serve the function of getting me out of the house.
Last friday, i saw Knowing, starring Nicholas Cage and costarring a lot of cheesy special effects. And speaking of cheese, the plot had more holes than a piece of imported Emmanthal.
Nicholas Cage plays an MIT professor who has a young son whose school digs up a fifty year old time capsule. Each kid in his class gets an envelope from the capsule, nick's kid gets a creepy note filled with numbers. Then he starts to see creepy people in long black coats. It turns out, the numbers in the note forecast all the catastrophes that have befallen the world since the capsule was buried, ending with a prediction of a solar flare that will destroy earth. And, as we learn in the very anti-climatic end, it's not like the numbers on the note give any kind of solution to saving earth.
Also, the stock-kid-from-casting has a hearing problem, but we're told he's not deaf (? so what else are hearing aids used for, oh right, alien broadcasts)- it's apparently just a plot device so that nick and his son can do a few cute riffs from American Sign Language. The kid wears a hearing aid so that the aliens can talk to him, but apparently his little girl friend hears the aliens quite well without one.

Okay. My first question is, why have the mysterious note predict anything if it's going to be buried for fifty years. It's not like anyone could have read it underground or done anything, so why bother? Secondly, why do aliens always wear long black coats? Isn't there at least one alien fashion designer in outer space who has a drop of creativity and originality? Of course, they shed their long black coats for the usual naked-body-gleaming-silver-streams-of-energy scene, just before they blast off, but are we to believe that they are so modest that they need to cover their non-genitalia owning bodies with the same coats that are worn by Hasidic rabbis?
thirdly, why do the aliens, who apparently have unearthly powers and can appear anywhere on earth, and whose mission is to BEAM CERTAIN KIDS UP, need to steal a car to get the kids to the space ship, huh? they drive a car? a car? In the end, Nick witnesses his kid getting beamed up, while all the mysterious black rocks in the area rise up and rattle (they are interspersed throughout the film but have no meaning whatsover). Apparently the strong gravitational field from the space ship lifts all the rocks up like a paving company so they can eerily float around, but doesn't lift nick cage, not one inch from the ground even though he is standing right under the space ship in a hailstorm of floating black rocks.

Oh, I forgot - everyone dies in the end anyway (starting with New York. And why do they always have to start with New York, for crumb's sake, why don't they start with, say, Boise, Idaho, or Middletown, Indiana? Just once, give New Yorkers a break?)
So what was the point of the whole thing? To scare the crap out of the little girl who originally wrote the numbers down and who eventually commits suicide (compassionate aliens, those!) or to scare the crap out Nick who gets to interpret the note fifty years later? Nick discovers what the numbers mean just in time for all of us to die together. The aliens didn't have a clue how to save us, or anything, they just came for the kids (no genitalia, remember?) We see the kids in th very last scene on their new home planet, frolicking through miles of what i guess is wheat, and you're left wondering what the heck are they going to have for dinner? Are they expected to chow down on grass tops like a herd of cows?
My favorite lines: nick's girlfriend asks the kids, "How are these aliens telling you these things?"
Kids answer: "They whisper them to us."
Girlfriend: "And what do you call these people?"
Kids answer: " The - (are you ready for this?) -Whisperers."
Well, duh! And all they apparently whispered to the kids was: Don't be afraid, but we're coming to get you.

i have decided to set up my own rating system: it'll be called the skunk-o-meter, and Stinkbombs will range from zero to ten skunks, ten being the ultimate. I give this movie eight skunks and a set of whiskers.
save your money.