Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Directed by Alex Proyas.
2009. Rated PG-13, 121 minutes.
Nicolas Cage
Chandler Canterbury
Rose Byrne
Lara Robinson
Nadia Townsend
Alan Hopgood
Alethea McGrath
Ben Mendelsohn

Way back in 1959, a grade school class does one of those time capsule things. You know, they all put some crap in a tube and bury it and some class in the future will dig it up. One student, a particularly odd little girl, leaves a page full of seemingly random numbers. Fifty years later, the capsule is indeed unearthed and said page winds up in the hands of college professor/single dad John Koestler (Cage). He soon discovers that the numbers actually lay out the exact dates and death tolls of “every major disaster in history.” Somehow, this is all on what appears to be a standard 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, maybe an 11 x 14 but, whatever. And the fact that he seems to be a functioning alcoholic who made this amazing discovery during a night of drowning his sorrows in a bottle of wine is never addressed either, but I digress.

The real dilemma is that there a three dates that haven’t happened, yet. According to the new holy scroll, they’re approaching fast. Koestler tries to investigate the origin of the paper and what could happen next. There’s also some jazz about his relationship with his son that we’ll talk a little more about in a moment and his relationship with his own father. That second relationship could’ve easily been cut from the movie and it wouldn’t have skipped a beat.

The relationship between Koestler and his son is all a setup for a meant-to-be tear-jerker ending. It doesn’t do its job. If it jerks your tears then your tears must be very easily jerked. It also works toward two big special fx sequences. They’re both nice, the one involving the train is better, but nothing we haven’t seen before.

It’s equally intriguing and cheesy. Unfortunately, these things seem to counteract one another instead of working in tandem. So just as it seems to be getting interesting, something silly happens, not in a good way. This occurs repeatedly. Fortunately, star Nicolas Cage has all sorts of experience in similar movies and carries us through with his usual flair for going just enough over the top to be fun.

As far as disaster movies go, it puts itself in a bad spot. It never commits to the absolute nihilism of [i]2012[/i] and its premise is too flimsy to really inspire the type of deep thought it wants to.

The Opposite View: Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

What the Internet Says: 6.4/10 on imdb.com (7/27/10), 33% on rottentomatoes.com, 41/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 5/10

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