WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
In the late '50s a group of elementary students put futuristic drawings in a time capsule that is then buried on school grounds. One overly obsessed kid Lucinda goes her own way by writing hundreds of mysterious seemingly non-sensical numbers on her entry. Fifty years later it’s dug up and comes into the possession of Caleb the young son of John Koestler a recent widower and astro-physics professor who becomes obsessed with the papers Caleb has brought home from class. He soon discovers the random digits are actually not-so-thinly disguised dates (including 91101 of course) for “future” disasters and there are clearly three of those dates yet to come. Although nobody believes his ramblings about this code for impending doom a nearby plane crash proves he is on to something so ominous the fate of the world could be in jeopardy. With all hell about to break loose the prof takes matters into his own hands.
WHO’S IN IT?
Just a couple of years ago Nicolas Cage starred in Next as a magician who could see into the future and had to prevent a nuclear attack. Now he’s at it again as an MIT professor who also has clues to future catastrophes and also is out to prevent the inevitable. And of course in the National Treasure films he latched on to maps that had contained similarly dark deeply held secrets. Nic clearly likes “knowing” stuff before the rest of us and he’s quite believable even if some of the circumstances in his latest sci-fi adventure are really out there -- literally. Cage somehow makes you buy into this stuff which is key to the ultimate success of the flick. As the key kids Chandler Canterbury as Caleb and Lara Robinson as Lucinda (and later Abby Lucinda’s granddaughter) are properly eerie and haunted-looking. Rose Byrne is also along for the ride as Lucinda’s grown daughter who is able to provide goosebump-inducing information that the numbers alone can’t. There’s also some dead-on creepy emoting from D.G. Maloney as a quietly foreboding stranger who seems to be following Caleb.
Unlike some recent movies of this type with nothing on the agenda but pure mayhem “Knowing” delves into the bigger issues of why we are all here providing something other than just big explosions to talk about on the way home from the multiplex. Director Alex Proyas (I Robot Dark City The Crow) certainly knows how to pull off complex action set-pieces but he and his screenwriters also seem to be genuinely interested in exploring the meaning behind the madness.
Some of the more pedantic dialogue Cage is given can be groan-inducing but since he plays John as a total believer we can forgive it. Also the film falls victim to a final act that veers into typical disaster movie territory and isn’t as compelling as the first two thirds which try to keep the premise at least marginally credible. At two hours it probably could have been tightened anyway.
The rain-soaked plane crash sequence with its gritty hand-held photography is riveting to watch and one of the most frightening depictions of a jetliner disaster put on film yet.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
If you are really squeamish it might be worth "knowing" that you should take breaks in the big disaster sequences as the CGI effects can get pretty violent and graphic particularly for a PG-13 movie.
Top Story: Kutcher Isn't Punk-ing Us, He Swears!
Ashton Kutcher promises he isn't pulling one of his trademark practical jokes--his MTV show Punk'd is really finished. "I've become the boy who cried wolf," he acknowledged to The Associated Press while offering some assurance that his decision to end the show after two seasons isn't just another hoax. "Let's put it this way," he said. "I'm getting ready to start shooting two movies, I'm still working on That '70s Show, I'm producing two other shows for MTV and creating a one-hour drama pilot for Fox ... I don't have the time." Fans, however, will be able to get their Punk'd fix Tuesday when the first season of the prank show comes out on DVD, AP reports.
Mystikal Jailed for Sexual Battery
Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal, aka Michael Tyler, was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for sexual battery, AP reports. The victim accused Tyler and two bodyguards of forcing her to perform oral sex after they accused her of stealing $80,000 worth of his checks. She denied stealing any money, AP reports. Tyler pleaded guilty to the charges.
Surf Flick Opens Sundance Film Festival
Typifying what founder Robert Redford says is the true spirit of independent filmmaking, the Sundance Film Festival opened Thursday night with the surf film Riding Giants, a documentary by filmmaker Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys). "This is a film about people who do what they do just for the thrill of it," Redford told a packed house at the debut, Reuters reports. "In a way, that's why we as filmmakers are all here tonight and this week. We're here because we love what we do, and it's the thrill of doing what we do that gives us such pleasure." The world-renowned indie film festival runs for 10 days, culminating with the awards ceremony Jan. 24.
PETA Ads Won't Air During Super Bowl
CBS has rejected advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Super Bowl advertising proposal, which, Reuters reports, features two scantily clad vegetarians snuggling up to a meat-eating pizza delivery man with the message "Meat can cause impotence." In a letter, CBS told PETA that it would not run advertisements on "controversial issues of public importance." "We just want to be able to present our jiggly women," Lisa Lange, spokeswoman for PETA, told Reuters, asking to join advertisers like beer brewers who have boosted sales with similar images of scantily clad women.
McCartney Won't Be Questioned in Alleged Assault
A spokesman for the former Beatle Paul McCartney dismissed a newspaper report claiming police wanted to interview the singer about an alleged assault, AP reports. London's Evening Standard said police planned to speak to McCartney about a dispute that occurred when one of the newspaper's photographers tried to take the singer's picture last September while he was standing near the spot where illusionist David Blaine had been suspended in a box near the Thames river. The photographer claims he was punched in the face several times by one of McCartney's friends. AP reports McCartney's spokesman Geoff Baker, who was at the scene, denied any assault took place.
In More Ex-Beatle News…
In a lawsuit filed by the family of the former Beatle George Harrison against the doctor who treated the cancer-stricken musician before his death in November 2001, Dr. Gilbert Lederman, lawyers for both sides met Thursday with a judge to try to reach a settlement, AP reports. Harrison's family is suing Lederman, accusing him of holding Harrison's hand and forcing him to sign the physician's son's guitar. Harrison died at the age of 58.
Electra Gets Net Name Back
Former Baywatch star Carmen Electra has won control of the Internet address www.carmenelectra.com in a ruling by a United Nations panel, AP reports. WIPO spokeswoman Samar Shamoon explained to AP that an arbitrator for the World Intellectual Property Organization ordered the transfer of the domain name to the 31-year-old actress, who had complained that it was being used in bad faith to divert Internet traffic to a commercial site, Celebrity1000. The ruling upheld Electra's complaint against the company that registered the name--Network Operations Center of High Prairie, Canada, AP reports. The U.N. arbitration system allows those who believe they have the right to a domain to get it back without having to fight a costly legal battle or pay large sums of money.
Role Call: Preston Returns; Reeves, Ford Have New Projects
Kelly Preston, fresh off her stint in Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, has signed on to do the feature Return to Sender. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Preston will play a lawyer who fights to exonerate a woman on death row. As the case unfolds, she begins to question the motives of a man who has befriended her client…Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, the producing team behind the upcoming comedy Along Came Polly, are already looking ahead, developing separate projects with Keanu Reeves and Harrison Ford, respectively. Variety reports the Reeves project is a comedy based on an idea generated by the Matrix star, in which he'll play an American who becomes a success in London and has to deal with the cultural differences. The Ford project is based on the Geeta Anand book For His Sick Kid, a medical drama about a man who finances a cure for a rare disease that is killing two of his kids--then has to fight to get them access to the drug.