Ebert ‘Knowing’ rave

Posted by · 4:52 pm · March 25th, 2009

From the big guy’s four-star review of the film, right at the top:

“Knowing” is among the best science-fiction films I’ve seen — frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome. In its very different way, it is comparable to the great “Dark City,” by the same director, Alex Proyas. That film was about the hidden nature of the world men think they inhabit, and so is this one.

I have no comment yet.  Still haven’t bothered to see it.  But I admit to this weird sense deep inside that all the belly-aching might actually be knee-jerk and that there’s a good movie out there with Nicolas Cage and the end of the world waiting for me.  Maybe it’s just my contrarian style.  After all, my senior yearbook quote was right out of Mamet: “I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion.  If everyone thinks one thing I say bet the other way.”

→ 26 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

26 responses so far

  • 1 3-25-2009 at 6:49 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Yeah, but Ebert has given four stars to a lot of iffy films in recent years, including The Golden Compass (claiming it was better than The Lord of the Rings), Lakeview Terrace, and Rendition.

    Not to mention a four-star review to Watchmen, which while I didn’t hate nearly as much as you did, I certainly wouldn’t rate it higher than There Will Be Blood and Wendy and Lucy (which he did). One dissenting opinion, even from America’s most famous film critic, isn’t enough to make me rush to the cinema to watch a film that in all honesty I’m not dying to see anytime soon.

  • 2 3-25-2009 at 7:27 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    Ebert has always been fond of Alex Proyas and for sci-fi in general. He did one of his rare DVD commentaries for Dark City.

    I was gonna skip this, but maybe I’ll give it a chance.

  • 3 3-25-2009 at 7:37 pm

    Joe said...

    For what it’s worth, I thought it was great.

  • 4 3-25-2009 at 9:11 pm

    R.J. said...

    A critic has never swayed me in my opinion of a film,but I must admit that Ebert is my personal favorite of all film critics and I tend to agree with him the most. I wasn’t even remotely excited about this film (Nicolas Cage is starting to have that effect on me), but after reading his review and realizing that Proyas directed it I actually want to see it.

  • 5 3-25-2009 at 10:06 pm

    Jordan Cronk said...

    I really do think this is a wonderful movie. One of my favorites of the year so far. I get the feeling that this will be a film that grows in acceptance as time wears on. I saw it over the weekend and am already wanting to see it again. And I’m not one to usually go for much sci-fi or action films. That’s just me though.

  • 6 3-26-2009 at 12:01 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Well…The Golden Compass IS better than LOTR.

  • 7 3-26-2009 at 1:16 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Ooh, burn. (I agree with Kris, too.)

  • 8 3-26-2009 at 1:30 am

    Alex said...

    I’d like to think he’s getting senile but his longer articles on the side of his website are too perceptive and well written. Maybe he is ‘reviewing’ the thoughts and concepts that these movies provoke, rather than the movies themselves…

    Then again, he didn’t hesitate to pan A Clockwork Orange when it came out – he knows when he hates something.

    I didn’t love the film – it was very Summit-y if that makes sense. It was a decent effort in terms of production but felt somewhat stilted. I certainly don’t think it was an inept effort, but it was a bit underwhelming. The critical reception was a bit severe, but I don’t think it has been misunderstood like The Fountain was or anything like that…..

  • 9 3-26-2009 at 3:51 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I haven’t seen Knowing yet, but like I said earlier, the trailer looks decent enough. The reviews of course not so.
    I ain’t even gonna debate the LotR thing.

  • 10 3-26-2009 at 5:46 am

    Jameson said...

    If everyone thinks one thing, I say bet the other way.

    But I thought the grosses told us everyone thinks this movie kicks ass. I’m pretty sure Mamet would recommend skipping it.

  • 11 3-26-2009 at 8:11 am

    Chase K. said...

    It’s awful — just read Jeff’s review to get the gist. Badass plane crash, rest of the film blows.

    Honestly, with the amount of horrendous acting, squishy sentiments (Cage and his son have a stupid sign-language “I Love You” schtick) the banal, forced ending and the trite use of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (‘The Fall’ beat you to it, Alex) — I’m surprised anyone fell for this crap.

    It can’t even be enoyed as silly apocalyptic stuff, either because it takes itself so damn seriously.

  • 12 3-26-2009 at 9:35 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    “Well…The Golden Compass IS better than LOTR.”

    “Ooh, burn. (I agree with Kris, too.)”

    And Watchmen is better than Waltz with Bashir. Okay.

  • 13 3-26-2009 at 11:06 am

    Speaking English said...

    “Well…The Golden Compass IS better than LOTR.”

    We’re talkin’ the movies here, Kris, not the books.

  • 14 3-26-2009 at 11:11 am

    tony rock said...

    He better be talking the books…because to say Golden Compass the movie is better than LOTR the movie is heresy in my mind

  • 15 3-26-2009 at 2:57 pm

    Chad said...

    I haven’t seen The Golden Compass but almost anything is better than The Lord of the Rings.

  • 16 3-26-2009 at 4:29 pm

    Joel said...

    Kris didn’t like the LOTR films very much, if I’m not mistaken, and liked Golden Compass too (?).

    As for Knowing, I agree wholeheartedly with Ebert. Has the potential to be this year’s most underrated gem, much like Happening was last year for me. Don’t get everybody’s hate for the film.

  • 17 3-26-2009 at 8:08 pm

    R.J. said...

    I liked LOTR but loved “The Golden Compass”, it’s a shame that here will probably never be a sequel.

  • 18 3-26-2009 at 9:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “We’re talkin’ the movies here, Kris, not the books.”

    Yeah. Me too.

  • 19 3-26-2009 at 9:35 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “But I thought the grosses told us everyone thinks this movie kicks ass.”

    Crucial mistake. The only thing the grosses told us was that Summit did a good job of promoting it, and/or people had a jones for apocalyptic cinema this weekend. Opening weekend never — ever — has anything to say about quality.

  • 20 3-26-2009 at 9:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Has the potential to be this year’s most underrated gem…”

    Not the first time I’ve heard this.

  • 21 3-28-2009 at 11:53 am

    Chris said...

    I honestly can’t say there is anything about Knowing that makes me wanna go see it. I like Dark City and The Crow a lot, but I Robot sucked and this just doesn’t look.. that appealing.

  • 22 3-28-2009 at 11:54 am

    Chris said...

    Oh, and remember, Ebert also gave Watchmen 4 stars. Put that into consideration before you spend money on Knowing.

  • 23 3-30-2009 at 9:55 pm

    Zan said...

    Joel said:
    “Has the potential to be this year’s most underrated gem, much like Happening was last year for me.”

    Lol, remind me not to take advice on films from you.

    And to endorse “The Golden Compass” is a laugh riot.

  • 24 3-30-2009 at 10:11 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    A laugh riot? It’s hardly a fringe opinion, Zac.

    Anyway, regarding “Knowing,” I finally shelled out the cash to see a matinee today and yeah, it’s certainly not the year’s worst movie (hyperbole plays itself out in this racket when it comes to Cage and disaster movies, so the two together become irresistible for some).

    Plenty of flaws, to say the least, and Proyas’s worst film to date, but it did have some ambitious ideas and I think the religious undertones were interesting. A little finessing and it could have been something quite special.

  • 25 7-07-2009 at 8:51 am

    spencer said...

    I usually disagree with Ebert, but I loved this film. I like any movie that leaves me thinking, and this movie gave me and my wife much to discuss afterwards.

    The special effects were quite good and there was plenty of excitement. What else can you really demand from a movie?

  • 26 7-30-2009 at 8:47 am

    Steve said...

    “…the trite use of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7…”

    I am a musician for many many years and a huge fan of Beethoven; have performed as principle in orchestras as well as studied music theory, history and appreciation.

    I found the use of Beethoven to be extremely beautiful, especially introducing it a little while Koestler is worried and confused in his study alone, then a recapitulation as a lenghtier segment appears right near the end – the reprisal was a suprise and a huge shock to the system and just flawlessly on-pitch, even more powerful because we heard a foreshadowing earlier in the film… very very sensitive and powerful use of this incredible piece… I was extremely moved and transported, I felt a physical rush, it raised the level of the section of the film from mundane to mythically epic.

    I find your remark contrived and forced because I suspect you have some knee-jerk dislike for Cage or can’t stomach the sad qualities of the ending and just do not know how to appreciate such things, and you are trying to cause others do dislike it too for some wierd psychological motive.

    The use of Beethoven was 100% perfect and appropriate, as this piece has been associated with “Large Sadness” and tragedy since the day it was premiered; no music could have been better for this section of the film.