Knowing and Horton Hears A Who- Movie Reviews
Horton Hears A Who
Maybe Knowing is the kind of film that will resurface in ten or twenty years and find itself being a sci-fi classic rather than the mainstream paranormal action movie that the trailer suggests it is. Really, there's no way to properly prepare an audience for this kind of film where what's supernatural at one point becomes paranormal the next and celestial after that. How could it be categorized? In actuality Knowing is a film which addresses theology. Its concern is not with what a character can do now that he has certain knowledge of events, but how he can react to it knowing that his actions are futile. Even more interestingly, Knowing poses the question of what it would mean for creation if our placement in the universe could be accounted for by something other than what we call God.
Knowing begins with the always reliable stand-by in the horror genre: a creepy girl with long hair who has the overwhelming urge to scrawl apocalyptic message on any surface available. In an instance of either prophetic inspiration or hilariously cruel pranking, the little girl covers a letter in a series of numbers which are then sealed tight in a time capsule to be opened 50 years in the future. It's then, in 2009, that the letter is opened by another young boy who spends his nights watching discovery channel, being a vegetarian, and generally acting like a D-bag (which is a real shame for the future of mankind if you think about it). His father just so happens to be Nicholas Cage in the role of John Koestler, a professor at MIT and someone who isn't quite as threatening as he thinks when he wields a bat in the woods to ward off the creepy strangers who lurk in the darkness. It's he who gives the numbers a once-over to discover that they correlate to "every major disaster in the past 50 years," in addition to a few which apparently haven't happened yet.
What exactly qualified as a "major disaster" was something that I couldn't really figure out, and is something that seems to be anything higher than a bus-load, which made me think that the paper should have been a tad bigger to cover the past 50 years. Then again, maybe it didn't. The numbers are as much premonitions as they are evidence for their own authenticity and accuracy. Strangely, the later ones seem catered for the area surrounding John and his family, which also doesn't appear to be much of a coincidence at all. In fact, maybe it was designed with the knowledge that it would be found by him.
This film specifically addresses issues of predestination vs. freewill, but interestingly frames it as those who are chosen and those who are not. Knowing really shines best when its plan is completely laid out, when John is no longer perceived as an action hero, but someone who just has to accept the reality of what is to happen. It's then that the question becomes not, "what can we do?" but, "what's going to happen afterwards?" The presence of higher beings, of an alternate explanation for why we're here, the fulfillment of seemingly scriptural events by beings other than God, what would that mean for what we believe? Does this presence negate His existence or do these protective forces strengthen the argument for Him to be there?
Knowing can be a frustrating film because it doesn't answer any questions, and the questions that it does pose are glazed over by high production values and special effects that even if entertaining, frankly, aren't always entirely convincing. Director Alex Proyas is no stranger to the science fiction genre and has the much heralded but unfortunately little seen Dark City accredited to his name. He is also the man behind the film adaptation of I-Robot. All these films run with similar themes in which a character must confront his (or its) true reality as either a created being, a creator themselves, or both.
Meanwhile it should be noted that Ryne Douglas Pearson, the author of Knowing's source material and co-author of the script, is a Christian author with a Catholic background. Does that change how it should be perceived? It provides good perspective, but the film has been latched onto by Mormons, Islamic groups, and I assume Scientologists as well. At the very least, it gets people to ask the one question that the author himself has posed, "What happens after this?" Because of that I say Knowing deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. I'm interested to hear what you think.
I should note that after watching Knowing I rented the recent animated adaptation of Horton Hears A Who which is actually quite similar but geared towards a quite separate age group. I could write a review for Horton, but now that I think about it there's actually not much of a significant difference. In fact, take Knowing, replace Nicholas Cage for the mayor of Whoville, replace other-worldly beings for a giant elephant named Horton, and change Earth to a speck on a pink clover, and you have virtually identical films. Except one might have a slightly more violent ending than the other.
The animation is beautiful, vibrant, colorful and imaginative. The characters are charming, if at times a little over-acted by their players (even for animation which is rather something). Overall, a very funny, satisfying, and actually quite involving of a film.
I can guarantee you'll be more emotionally involved with Horton's struggle and connect with that snuggley giant elephant than with the heavy drinking Nicholas Cage any day.
If you can only go with one, I say you go with Horton, especially if you're five.