By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The director of this film’s name is Roar Uthaug. That is all.
His film, The Wave, is about a disaster that will very likely come to pass in our lifetime in the More og Romsdal county of northwestern Norway- a piece of a mountain sloughing off into a fjord and causing an 80 meter-tall (think most of a football field) wave which will lay waste to any buildings and people at a lower elevation than that. Kristian is a geologist about to take a plum oil company job and move his family away from this dangerous area, but the day they’re set to leave the monitoring instruments start acting up…
The Wave is a disaster spectacular on a budget, but more effective than its recent brethren costing 3+ times more, because Uthaug has an innate skill for building tension and mounting dread both in the macro (y’all town’s gonna die) and the micro (y’all Dad’s gonna die) like a pro. The inevitable landslide and tsunami are impressive enough effects, but the real stars are the cinematographer and production designer, and the utterly gorgeous and not a little menacing real life, really in danger locale of Geiranger.
I’d roll the dice on vistas like this, too.
The structure of the film is also interesting in an a-Hollywood-typical way. Much more of an attempt is made to add a little heft to the personalities of the archetypal family and a little science and real-world applicability to the mechanics of the disaster, so the big moment doesn’t occur until more than a third of the way through. The disaster itself is appropriately car and town-smashing brutal and full of teeth-clenching personal peril, but over relatively quickly compared to the destruction porn that is the main calling card of La La Land disaster flicks. The final third is a despairing search for family members afterwards, and proves no safer without the tsunami chasing at their heels.
The pre-disaster setup is a bit dependent on some pretty dumb actions (in particular, characters just going off and doing things for several hours without thought, apparently, like leaving your kids in a car while you helicopter off to check out some fault lines, or… skateboard all night in an apparently 20 yard-long corridor?)
All of these story beats have been used a hundred times before in this kind of film, and while they’re certainly executed better than Roland Emmerich gives a damn to, despite some protracted, almost believable feints towards going another direction, you know exactly what’s going to happen to those characters the minute you meet them.
The Wave puts pretty much any Hollywood natural disaster flick in the last decade to shame. Roar Uthaug is a name to remember for a few reasons.
The Wave (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever the main character acts paranoid
Take a Drink: whenever somebody yells at him about it or work in general
Take a Drink: for character deaths
Take a Drink: for clock shots
Do a Shot: for “Yessiree Bob”
Do a Shot: for… THE WAVE