REVIEW: THE QUAKE aka SKJELVET (2018)

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THE QUAKE aka SKJELVET (2018)

Norwegian disaster flick is a sequel to Roar (Tomb Raider, Cold Prey) Uthaug’s The Wave and continues the story of Geologist Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner). It’s three years after the devastating wave in Geiranger and while Eikjord is seen by most as a hero, he himself is tormented with guilt that his warning could have been made sooner. He is separated from wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp) and his children, son Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro) and daughter Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande), who now live in Oslo. When a friend’s death in a tunnel signals Kristian that a massive earthquake could be imminent there, the nightmare begins all over again as he tries to warn authorities and get his family to safety.

John Andreas Andersen takes over directing reigns from Uthaug with a script from Wave writers John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg. He does a great job not only in creating some intense drama to get us emotionally invested in the returning characters, but some nail-biting suspense when the inevitable finally happens. Much like the last film, it’s a bit smaller scaled than the typical CGI filled mega-budget Hollywood disaster films and focuses on the human drama, though the devastation is quite impressive. There are some truly gripping scenes as Eikjord tries to rescue his wife and daughter from the top floor of a collapsing hotel, with the help of his dead friend’s daughter Marit (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen). It can be quite intense and nerve-wracking, especially in the last act and the human melodrama is kept at a realistic level and thus far more effective than if it was over-the-top like most films of this ilk. The FX are once again top notch, for a moderately budgeted film and the Norwegian locations are a refreshing relief from the usual world famous big city locales these movies usually choose. If the film has any flaws it’s that it’s over a bit suddenly, when one expected more and characters are suddenly safe when they were still in the danger zone when last seen. Some transitional shots would have helped. These are minor complaints when stacked up against what director Andersen does deliver.

The cast all return as the Eikjord family. Kristoffer Joner once again makes a solid everyman hero. This time Kristian is a man tearing himself apart by guilt that he couldn’t have saved more in the tsunami in Geiranger, but must do it all over again in Oslo. A good actor making the part very human. Ane Dahl Torp is again strong as Idun. She still loves her husband and is trying to be understanding and sympathetic, even though his new warnings appear as paranoia to her. Jonas Hoff Oftebro is good as the now college age Sondre, though he doesn’t have all that much screen time and Edith Haagenrud-Sande is very solid as young Julia, especially as she is involved with a lot of the action. Pretty Kathrine Thorborg Johansen is also a welcome edition as Marit, the strong-willed daughter of Kristian’s lost friend and quite the action heroine herself.

Overall, it’s a fun movie and every bit an equal to it’s predecessor. It’s human drama is done on a realistic level and thus emotionally invests the audience in the characters. It’s title event comes in the last act and delivers some really nail-biting suspense scenes as the characters we’ve come to like are thrust into highly dangerous situations. The FX are spectacular for a modestly budgeted film and director John Andreas Andersen fills Roar Uthaug’s shoes quite nicely. A really solid and very entertaining disaster sequel from Norway. Would love to see a threequel if they could find a way to get Eikjord back in action without seeming forced or redundant which The Quake avoids.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) little girls who should have stayed in the car like dad told her to.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: PLEASE STAND BY (2017)

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PLEASE STAND BY (2017)

Story finds Wendy (Dakota Fanning), a once temper-prone, autistic young woman, trying to convince her older sister, Audrey (Alice Eve) that she is ready to come home and can be responsible around Audrey’s baby daughter. At the same time, the Star Trek obsessed Wendy wants to submit a script in a Star Trek script contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures. To enter her script and prove she is a capable and responsible adult, Wendy begins a road-trip to L.A. to deliver her screenplay to the studio, personally, with her panicked counselor (Toni Collette) and worried sister in hot pursuit.

This is a sweet and charming little gem directed by Ben Lewin from script by Michael Golamco, that treats it’s subject with sensitivity, yet without overdosing on melodrama. Fanning’s nerdy Wendy is a very endearing character and it’s actually fun to watch this determined young woman try to overcome the constraints of her condition, accomplish her goals and prove she can be functional and responsible like everyone else. The script never pities it’s subject, just presents them as everyday people who face different challenges than the rest of us. The Star Trek angle is also fun, too, as Wendy can match the biggest nerd in Trek lore and maybe understands the characters better than most. The cast are all exceptional, especially lead Fanning, who really makes Wendy a three dimensional person we can emotionally invest in. A sweet, charming and sometimes fun little gem that treats it’s subject with the respect and sensitivity it deserves. Also stars Happy Death Day’s Jessica Rothe as a devious young mother Wendy encounters on her journey and an appearance by TV legend Marla Gibbs as a sympathetic senior. Highly Recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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