I so wish I lived in New York City right now so I could check out Disaster!, the musical spoof of 1970's disaster movies by talented gay funny men Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick (OK, that and Hamilton). Instead, I shall tide myself over with The Wave — no pun intended — a new epic from that unexpected epicenter of mayhem, Norway. It opens in theaters today in Los Angeles, New York and other US cities.
The modern inhabitants of the picturesque lakeside town of Geiranger are well aware of a massive tsunami that flooded their predecessors on the site approximately a century ago. Resulting from a rockslide in the geologically unsound mountains that surround it, Geiranger remains all too susceptible to history repeating itself.
Kristian (passionately played by Kristoffer Joner, who can also currently be seen in The Revenant) knows this well but, fortunately for him and his family, is on the eve of leaving the village for a new job in the big city with an oil company. Unfortunately for the surveyor and his brood, the rocks decide to fall that very night. Kristian has exactly ten minutes to try to save his wife, son and neighbors before a new tsunami sweeps them all away.
Screenwriters John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg follow the blueprint previously provided by such disaster movies as 1936's San Francisco, 1974's Earthquake and last year's campy San Andreas. While The Wave is less sprawling in terms of its cast of characters, primarily focusing on Kristian's family and a handful of co-workers and hotel guests, it incorporates many of the genre's conventions including local politicians ignoring the potential for danger during tourist season, a crusading expert that no one will listen to, and a brave soul or two willing to sacrifice their lives so that others might live.
The film's climactic CG tsunami is obvious yet still impressive, as is John Christian Rosenlund's cinematography. But while its Norwegian location might be new there is too much about The Wave that is overly familiar. All it is lacking to be a complete throwback is veteran actor George Kennedy (who passed away earlier this week at the age of 91); he survived Earthquake, all four Airport movies and a cinematic disaster of another kind: the flop 1973 musical version of Lost Horizon. Rest in peace, Patroni.
I really hate to condemn the new gay-themed home video release You're Killing Me, especially since I have some friends and acquaintances in the cast, yet I feel I must. Uneven doesn't begin to describe this wannabe horror-comedy's style and tone. Campy with some genuine laughs one moment then excessively, disturbingly gory the next, it was ultimately more off-putting than entertaining to me. Directed and co-written by Jim Hansen, best known as creator of Drew Droege's hilarious Chloe videos (Droege cameos here, as does Disaster! The Musical's previously mentioned Jack Plotnick), You're Killing Me sadly misses the mark big time.
The Wave: B-
You're Killing Me: D
You're Killing Me is now available on DVD:
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.