Will you take the Knowing Challenge? Keep reading!
Given recent spirited discussions in this space regarding Nic Cage movies, we here at Voreblog HQ came up with what we thought was a great idea: We would watch every new Nic Cage movie, ideally on opening weekend, then write it up and rate it on a relative good-Nic-Cage/bad-Nic-Cage scale. For example, had we been blogging when National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets came out in theaters and watched Ben Gates and his trusty sidekick Riley Poole (as well as his endearing but crotchety parents played by Jon Voight and — seriously — Helen Mirren) not only trot out every conspiracy theory imaginable from two hundred plus years of American history but also solve each and every one on their way to discovering Cibola, the lost City of Gold, by — and this is the best part — pouring bottled water on random rocks on Mount Rushmore until they find the one rock out of millions that reveals a mossy green stain indicating the entrance to the city, we would carefully assess Nic’s latest role to determine where in the canon it stands, which in the case of National Treasure 2 would be below the original National Treasure but well above Snake Eyes or Wicker Man. That was the plan, which we hoped would provide amusement for both us and you, the reader.
Then we saw Knowing last night. It was not simply the worst Nic Cage movie we have ever seen. After careful discussion and consideration, we are prepared to say it is the worst movie of all time. We’ll repeat that: Worst. Movie. Of all. Time.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the outlandish, morally-confused notion — echoed in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds — that an alien invasion portending the end of human civilization is but a mere precursor to the domestic drama of a father trying to salvage a broken relationship with his kids as well as his long-dormant faith in the redemptive power of the human spirit. Yes, son, aliens are coming and the world is shot to hell, but are things cool with you and me? (Disclaimer: For all its faults, we still like Signs. But oh how Mr. Shyamalan has fallen.)
Far more odious is Knowing’s utterly cynical manipulation at wanting to give the viewer some shred of hope (yes, the human race might still be saved and Nic Cage might just be the one to do it!) while clearly relishing every chance to depict — in cheesy, overstuffed CGI — suffering, violence, cruelty, mass death and global obliteration. Director Alex Proyas obviously sees little merit in creating an empathetic character unless it serves the purpose of heightening our revulsion when said character dies in a brutal car accident, or hugs his estranged father just as an apocalyptic wave of solar flare demolition engulfs them both in fiery death. Hear us: Our souls felt dirty after this movie.
But here we are treating Knowing as though it deserves to be critiqued as a sober-minded piece of art, when really it is pseudo-Biblical, spiritual mumbo-jumbo masquerading as a thoughtful meditation on human mortality and random suffering. Here are just a few of the movie’s more ludicrous images: a CGI moose bathed in flames bolting out of a raging forest fire; EMTs pulling CGI humans flambé out of plane wreckage; a man applying a heat gun and paint scraper to a closet door in order to read numbers that had been scratched into it a half century earlier; and two children carrying bunny rabbits as they are beckoned by Aryan-looking aliens in trench coats to walk into a hovering spacecraft.
And we haven’t even addressed Mr. Cage yet. The script calls for him to race into the woods with a flashlight and baseball bat and, following a howling fit of rage, pick a tree at random for batting practice. He must keep a straight face while trying to talk like an astrophysicist (what exactly is a “microtesla”?) and gape bewilderingly into the sky as an alien spaceship lifts off directly overhead, as well as repeat a mawkish signing ritual with his son at the film’s climactic moment of idiocy. This caused Ben to laugh uproariously, provoking angry glares from some audience members still immune to the movie’s crippling kryptonite. But two people sitting nearby shook their heads with us in a gesture of disbelieving solidarity.
We have been outspoken Nic Cage apologists in the past, so it causes us great pain to say this but it must be said: We’ll never be able to forgive Nic for this one.
We would like to call attention to the fact that even though this movie was a steaming pile of cinematic crap, we still had the decency to avoid spoiling the ending … which is so unbelievably preposterous that by not mentioning it we feel used by the conventions of reviewing decorum. If you know a terrible end awaits unsuspecting millions everywhere, aren’t you obligated to stop it? Wait. Oh no! We too have been sucked in by Knowing’s perverse moral logic!
Because we believe it’s for your own good, we feel compelled to spoil the ending. But before we do that, we want to lay down the Knowing Challenge. What’s the Knowing Challenge, you ask? It’s very simple. Anyone and everyone — but especially those of you who have been among Nic’s harshest critics — is welcome to join us for a matinee viewing of Knowing next Sunday, March 29 at Kenwood Towne Centre. Details to follow later this week. A movie this awful needs to be shared with friends. The only way to retaliate is to go MST3K on it and bring something redemptive out of this cinematic train wreck. Laughing at it would be a good place to start.