UK Preview – February 27th 2016 at FrightFest Glasgow
Plot: When Kristian (Joner), a geologist from the Norwegian town of Geiranger is about to move away to Stavanger, he can’t leave his work alone. Part of a group that monitors the mountains in hopes of preventing landslides that had previously resulted in massive death and destruction in the area, Kristian can’t shake the feeling that it might be happening again. Despite the fact that the rest of the group are unconcerned, Kristian’s concerns turn out to be true and the landslide results in a massive wave heading for the town, where Kristian’s family are.
It’s a terrifying thought being caught up in some kind of natural disaster, with volcanoes, tornadoes and earthquakes all causing massive devastation where ever they hit. Humanity does it’s best to predict these acts of God, and we’ve made plenty films based on them. While films like Twister and Dante’s Peak kept the scale reasonably small, films like The Day After Tomorrow upped the ante. Why show the destruction of a town when it can be a continent? Blockbusters by film makers like Roland Emmerich started setting the bar too high. With The Wave, it’s been scaled way back to show the destruction of a town and personally, it doesn’t feel big enough.
In a disaster movie, we’re living vicariously through the characters going through this ordeal. It’s a little more difficult when those characters live in a town you’ve never heard of before. The Wave does do a lot of character building around Kristian and his family but unless you get invested in them, you’re not going to care. Kristian is a workaholic dad but even with that flaw he does seem to generally care about his family.
His family is his wife, his teenage son, and his young daughter. The daughter is the simplest character, she’s just kind of adorable, too adorable to want to see her drowned by a big wave. The wife is supportive but calls Kristian on his shit, they argue a bit but they are far from dysfunctional. The teenage son is almost perpetually in a mood, and just makes things difficult for the dad because this is the movies and there always has to be someone in the family to make things harder than they need to be. Compared to most American movie families, Kristian’s family is idyllic. They’re too perfect.
Going back to the scale of the movie, because it’s such a small scale I can’t help but feel like the scenario is a lot more preventable than say the end of the world in the film 2012. The people who are in charge of keeping an eye on the mountain seem so unconcerned when it’s the whole job to be concerned and cautious. This results in everything going to hell and the people in the town are left with 10 minutes to evacuate, which is an impossibly short time to get anything done in my opinion. That goes double for evacuating a hotel which is the task that Kristian’s wife is given.
Overall this film is pretty typical of disaster films, the first act is our hero being told he’s a crazy person for wanting to do his job and prevent a disaster, the second act is the disaster, and the third act is the hero trying to save his family from the disaster. It’s not really a rocket science plot so it really relies on you to care about the characters and I just didn’t. Also I found it quite distracting that the actor who plays Kristian, Kristoffer Joner looks like a Norwegian Norman Reedus. If you like disaster films this might be a good film for you, but for everyone else you’ve probably seen another film like this and it doesn’t add anything new enough to be interesting. However if you’ve planning a trip to Norway I’d recommend it because the scenery is gorgeous.