the wave

Disaster movies are a tough subgenre. Sometimes it’s hard to enjoy watching thousands or millions of people get demolished in some of the worst ways imaginable, especially if there are zero emotional stakes, or if they’re simply treated as an afterthought in a major, CG-heavy summer blockbuster. With The Wave, director Roar Uthaug attempts to ground the disaster movie scenario.

After the jump, watch The Wave trailer.

I saw The Wave at last year’s Fantastic Fest. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed by Uthaug’s picture. It’s an admirable film, in that it doesn’t try to make the event “fun,” but it still hits a lot of the calculated structural and emotional beats we expect from a disaster movie. The Wave is kind of like most of these movies we’ve seen lately, except it goes for a more serious and honest tone.

Here’s The Wave trailer (source: Apple):

The trailer, unsurprisingly, focuses more on the second half of the film, when things go horribly wrong for geologist Kristian Eikfjord (Kristoffer Joner) and his family. There’s a decent amount of set up in The Wave, and once you get to the third act, the wait isn’t completely earned. You know where this kind of story is going to go. There are very few surprises, both in the drama and the situations the characters find themselves in.

The Wave does feature some fine performances and impressive CG, though. The sense of dread during the film’s major sequence is excellent. Seeing that wave, the fear on the protagonist’s face, and the crowd running makes for a truly terrifying piece of filmmaking. While what comes before and after that sequence isn’t as engaging, I’d still pick The Wave over most disaster movies. At least it actually attempts to make these characters and the situation real. It doesn’t fully succeed, but it’s an admirable effort.

Here’s the official synopsis for The Wave:

The experienced geologist Kristian Eikfjord has accepted a job offer out of town. He is getting ready to move from the city of Geiranger with his family when he and his colleagues measure small geological changes in the underground. Kristian gets worried, and his worst nightmare is about to come true when the alarm goes off and the disaster is inevitable. With less than 10 minutes to react, it becomes a race against time to save as many as possible, including his own family.

The Wave hits Theaters, on Demand, Amazon Video and iTunes on March 4.

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