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A single father and chairman of his town's historical society is summoned when a time capsule buried behind an elementary school in 1958 is prematurely unearthed because of a water-main break. The man, whose son attends the school, sifts through the contents and finds drawings of what 1958 tykes predicted the modern world would be like. It's all flying cars and fantasy stuff, with the exception of one chilling entry. One child predicted some of the most horrible events in recent history, and there's one that hasn't yet occurred, which the man attempts to prevent.
For more about Knowing and the Knowing Blu-ray release, see Knowing Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 24, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Ben Mendelsohn (I), Lara Robinson, Adrienne Pickering
Director: Alex Proyas
» See full cast & crew
Knowing Blu-ray Review
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Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 24, 2009
Everything has a purpose, has an order to it, is determined.
The uncertainty of the universe may very well be its one defining attribute. It is in that singular uncertainty -- that seemingly random string of apparently uncorrelated events that, in some way, large or small, shape the fates a life, a planet, a universe -- that the one truism in all of existence may be found. The only certainty in the universe is that nothing is certain, not even the most likely or unlikely of paths. Will this review someday be read by eyes other than its author's? If yes, by whom? If not, why? Will the final review -- or its author, for that matter -- exist an hour from now, a day from now, a year from now? Will the review remain indefinitely incomplete for one reason or another? Will a potential reader, for whatever reason, choose not to indulge in its perusal? If not, why? How many potential buyers of the disc reviewed herein will choose not to purchase after reading, and how many readers will be influenced to buy the disc when such an endeavor was not previously a tangible idea or concrete decision? Will the purchase of the disc -- or the decision to shun it -- someday result in a drastic change in the direction of the unset future? Will an otherwise average buyer, maybe in some way influenced by the review, become fascinated with the film and the medium in which it exists and pursue a career as an actor, a director, a cinematographer, a scriptwriter? What if the reverse were true -- a potential buyer snubs the disc for one reason or another, and by doing so, the world will lose a brilliant filmmaker or scriptwriter before he or she existed as such? Would a potential lack of sales from a negative review ultimately cost an individual a job, or would a potential surge in sales possibly resulting from a positive review be received with a promotion, and for whom, by whom, and otherwise affecting whom? The reactions to any action -- no matter how large or how small -- present options, futures, pleasures, pains, and everything in between in combinations limited only by the scope of the universe and the number of distinct actions taking place in it. Such theoretical under- and overtones populate the 2009 Science Fiction thriller Knowing, a film that posits the question as to the order of things, be they purposeful and the result of an influence from some higher plane of existence, completely accidental, or somewhere in between?
Knowing begins in 1959 Massachusetts where a young girl named Lucinda (Lara Robinson) has won a contest at the newly-minted William Dawes Elementary, her suggestion of creating a time capsule to be opened in 50 years chosen among dozens of proposals as the most appropriate celebration of the school's grand opening. All of the students are asked to draw a picture of what they believe the year 2009 will look like. While most depict robots and space ships, Lucinda frantically writes a series of seemingly random numbers, much to the chagrin of her teacher. Her work nevertheless winds up in the time capsule, and 50 years later, amidst a crowd of eager students tearing open crude depictions of a future not yet realized, young Caleb Koestle (Chandler Canterbury, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) receives Lucinda's note. Passing it off as meaningless, he forgets to return the letter to the school for safekeeping. Caleb's father, John (Nicolas Cage, The Rock), one evening seems to ruin the letter by staining it with the outline of a glass overflowing with Scotch, but in doing so he highlights an easily-translatable code: 911012996, representing the 2996 people that died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Working all night, John unravels part of the mystery, discovering dates and death tolls for every tragedy of the past 50 years, save for three with dates that have yet to pass. As John attempts to convince others of the infallibility of the harbinger of doom, including speaking with Lucinda's daughter, Diana (Rose Byrne), about her mother's gift of foresight, he finds himself in a race against time to prevent the coming tragedies; discover the meaning behind the remaining, seemingly random, numbers in Lucinda's letter; and figure out why fate -- or some higher power -- has chosen him and his son to play a central role in whatever is about to unfold before the world.
Sharing a similar theme to M. Night Shyamalan's superb Signs, Knowing posits the simple question as to the preordained or random order of the universe. In Signs, Mel Gibson played Graham Hess, a widower and former preacher who had gone astray from his beliefs after the accidental death of his wife at the hands of a sleepy driver. Facing the imminent threat of an alien invasion, Hess, his two children, and his brother, survive the ordeal through a series of seemingly random but obviously predetermined and necessarily interconnected events that together save the family from death. In Knowing, Nicholas Cage also plays a widower, his profession as a college professor whose fields of expertise include the astronomical sciences and the theoretical origins and possible futures of the cosmos. When confronted as to his own belief system pertaining to the order of the universe, he responds that, in his judgment, the universe is wholly random, the concept of fate or the meddling in human, earthly, or astronomical affairs by an external source other than the brute force of nature and her set of laws cannot exist. Nevertheless, when presented with the gift of interpreting the divination of another individual -- and through a string of events too precise to be considered coincidence, from his son's receipt of Lucinda's envelope to his "accidental highlighting" of perhaps the most easily identifiable section of the code -- he begins to reconsider his position on the order of the universe and, indeed, open his mind to new directions that may alter, for better or worse, the fate of his family and those around him. Knowing states that it is not fortitude but rather destiny that shapes the world, or at least those parts of the world determined by someone -- by something -- to require gentle nudging or a powerful shove in the right direction.
Directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City, I, Robot), Knowing arrives with plenty of promise based solely on the name attached to it, and fortunately the film rarely disappoints in either the quality of the direction or the caliber of its story. Proyas contributes wonderful direction to Knowing, creating a terribly tense and bone-chilling atmosphere that remains through to the very end. Capturing the imagination from the get-go with equal parts fascination and foreboding terror, Knowing delivers a relentless and rapidly-paced Horror-Mystery that serves up equal amounts of hair-raising tension in both the several climactic catastrophe sequences as well as all of the events leading up to them. Knowing does lose a bit of steam near the end as the revelation of the plot's most crucial developments and Shyamalan-like finale don't come as much of a surprise, though they do, like the rest of the events in the film, feature an abundance of palpable astonishment and fear in the characters and, by extension, the audience. The film works, in some ways, both in spite of and thanks to star Nicolas Cage. Through the first half of the film, the actor works with his all-too-familiar monotone cadence that never seems to change from one picture to the next. Neither good nor bad, it's a routine effort that doesn't impress on nearly the same level as the sometimes unbearable tension of the film, the quality of the story, the fantastic direction, or the great score courtesy of Marco Beltrami (3:10 to Yuma). As the plot further unfolds and the sense of utter fear, panic, uncertainty, and sense of hopelessness overwhelm both the character and the film, the performance becomes far more engaging, efficient, and real as the conclusion draws near. Knowing also enjoys strong performances from its child actors, Chandler Canterbury as John's son and Lara Robinson in dual roles as a young Lucinda and her granddaughter, Abby.
Knowing Blu-ray, Video Quality
Knowing features a jaw-dropping 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. Most every shot throughout the film dazzles with incredible depth, unmatched clarity, intricate details, and amazing colors. Particularly stunning are the film's bright outdoor shots that capture the beauty of a Northeastern fall marvelously. The orange and golden leaves leap off the screen; don't be surprised if the area in front of the display device requires raking after the movie. Also impressive are the hues found on the clothing worn by students and faculty both in the 1959 open and at the 2009 ceremony. The red, white, and blue ribbons and bunting sparkle, and even the bronze of the time capsule cover takes on a perfectly realistic appearance. The level of visible detail never falters, either. No matter the object and no matter its place in the frame or relation to the camera, the transfer absorbs every last nuance and recreates it with amazing accuracy. Captured not on film but rather on the Red One digital camera, Knowing takes on a high-quality cinematic appearance that truly does bring the magic of motion pictures on the big screen to the home. If the transfer has one fault, it is that blacks sometimes appear just a bit too bright, but considering the breathtaking quality of every other aspect of the transfer, this is easy to overlook. In short, Knowing makes for a reference-quality transfer from beginning to end and is one of the best Blu-ray has yet seen.
Knowing Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Knowing features a predictably wonderful DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. One of the most aggressive and deafening soundtracks available, Knowing features plenty of hefty bass and loud yet crystal-clear sound effects. From the very opening of the film and onward, listeners will become privy to the definition of the track and the seamless sense of space it creates. Whispering sounds flow out of the speakers from every corner of the soundstage with a chilling realism. Subtle yet rumbling bass accompanies the score over the opening credits that transition the film from 1959 to 2009, the clarity of the lows only a hint as to what is to come later in the soundtrack. Marco Beltrami's score glows, its delivery clean and precise in every instance. The track also creates lifelike atmospheres that place the listener in the midst of the action. Exterior shots of the MIT campus, for instance, feature rustling leaves and chatty pedestrians, both of which are heard in a 360-degree sound field. Likewise, during the William Dawes 50th anniversary ceremony, the slight echoing effect from the microphone is heard subtly around the soundstage. Listeners will hear -- and feel -- a subway car moving from the back channels through the middle of the listening area as it speeds to the front. Fortunately, the track's impressive array of back-channel audio never sounds gimmicky but rather fits naturally into the experience. Where the track truly shines, however, is in the recreation of the many sounds of violent destruction that populate the film. The crash of an airliner or the sound of a crackling, raging fire engulfing any object in its path deliver intense, deep, and punishing bass and impressively loud-at-reference-volume sound effects that remain clear and accurate, not merely playing as a jumbled glob of sound meant to loosely recreate a sonic event. Alo delivering precise and clear dialogue reproduction, Knowing features a soundtrack to be experienced rather than heard. A track to be reckoned with now and into the future, Knowing represents one of, if not the, top soundtracks currently available on Blu-ray.
Knowing Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Knowing opens up on Blu-ray without much material inside. First among the extras is a commentary track with Director Alex Proyas taking prompts from a companion, the end result a piece that plays like an interview with questions based primarily on the action playing out on-screen. Proyas still manages to cover the basic array of information about the shoot and the story, but also manages to go further into detail about the themes, the contrasts between the time periods depicted in the film, and more. Beginning with a smart discussion on the role of technology and Science Fiction in post-War America and also speaking on how characters developed over time from initial script to final product, the challenges of shooting in varied conditions, solving problems on-the-fly, and much more, the track plays as both informative and entertaining. This is another in a growing list of highly recommended commentary tracks. 'Knowing' All: The Making of a Futuristic Thriller (1080i, 12:36) is a rather standard sort of supplement that features the usual array of cast and crew interview snippets that speak on the quality of the story, the dichotomy in the film between science and faith, the background on the script, casting, creating the special effects shots, and more. Visions of the Apocalypse (1080i, 17:15) looks at the human fascination with the end of times and a few other discussions on some of the events that take place in the film, but further elaborations would spoil segments of the story. Finally, this release contains BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality.
Knowing Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
An all-around wonderful experience, Alex Proyas' Knowing delivers a nearly perfect blend of popcorn-munching entertainment, terror, suspense, and drama. It's superbly paced, well-acted, fabulously directed, and delivers plenty of spine-tingling and thought-provoking moments. Summit Entertainment's Blu-ray release sparkles from a technical perspective. Offering a reference-quality soundtrack and a bold, clear, and sparkling transfer, Knowing makes for a visual and aural treat for the senses that stands toe-to-toe with the highest-quality discs currently on the market. Unfortunately, the disc is a bit thin when it comes to bonus materials, but the main ingredients -- quality of film and technical presentation -- make this one well worth owning. This gem of a Science Fiction/Horror thriller earns an enthusiastic recommendation.
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Knowing Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 7th - July 6, 2009
While Hollywood continually adapts to the demands of an ever-changing audience, there is one thing it can always rely upon - funny is funny. Whether it is the unlikely mannerisms of 'Dr. Strangelove', the mischievous plots of 'Ferris Bueller', or the life of a ...
• Joint Rebate Program for Summit's Knowing and Push - June 16, 2009
Summit Home Entertainment has positioned 'Knowing' and 'Push', its two new Blu-ray titles coming up on July 7, to support each other in sales. To do it, the studio is using cross-promotion and a rebate program: consumers who buy both titles can get $5 back by mail. ...
• Summit Announces Duo of Sci-fi Titles for July - May 11, 2009
Summit Entertainment has announced and detailed two science-fiction titles for their release on July 7 on Blu-ray, day-and-date with the DVD: 'Knowing' and 'Push'. Audio and video specs have not been disclosed at this time, though you can expect a 1080p video presentation ...
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