When it comes to the year 2009 in genre movies, there are the massively hyped, insanely anticipated (“Watchmen,” “Avatar”), the eagerly awaited (“Terminator Salvation,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), the “Eh, maybe I’ll check it out” yawners (“G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra,” “The Wolfman”). And then there are those flicks that somehow slip through the movie geek blogosphere while making nary a peep.
I’d put Alex Proyas’ sci-fi thriller “Knowing” (out March 20) in that last category. Why exactly that is, I can’t say. Maybe because his last film, “I, Robot,” was pretty disappointing. Maybe because “Knowing”’s star, Nicolas Cage, has made a bunch of recent genre stinkers (“Next,” “Ghost Rider”) and we don’t expect much from him anymore. Maybe all anyone cares about these days are films based on existing entertainment properties.
Whatever the reason for the lack of widespread Internet attention, it’s certainly unfair. “Knowing,” a twisty tale about predicting the future and the possible end of the world, is looking to be one of 2009’s biggest surprises. Which is why it was such a delight that our own Josh Horowitz sat down with Proyas on Tuesday night at the Apple Store in SoHo to discuss his latest film.
“‘Knowing’ is a very unusual beast,” the Australian director told the assembled crowd. “It’s a really different experience. It takes you into new territory,” though he quickly added that certain elements might remind viewers of some of his earlier work.
“Dark City,” Proyas’ deliciously strange noir whodunit with a stunning sci-fi twist of an ending, comes most easily to mind. In fact, Proyas said he pushed “Knowing” in a much more science fiction direction, away from its more disaster movie origins.
The filmmaker also showed off a five-minute clip from the midpoint of the film, a subway station chase scene with Cage that ends in a vicious collision of subway cars, concrete and human beings. The pace was whip-fast, the violence front and center, the special effects as fine as any in recent big-budget genre flicks.
Throughout the 45-minute event, however, Proyas emphasized the importance he placed on giving his movie a veneer of reality, on preserving a certain rawness and immediacy. Of particular note is a two-minute, single-shot airplane crash sequence that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and which might be worth the price of admission alone.
Proyas also spoke glowingly of his leading man. “Nic was someone I really wanted to work with. I’ve actually tried to work with him on various occasions and I think I’ll be doing more with him in the future. We really got along well.”
Might that mean he’s trying to hook Cage into his next directorial project, a Dracula origins story? “I don’t know, maybe,” the director said with a coy smile. “It’s not up to just me.”
Does “Knowing” deserve more blogosphere attention? Do you think the movie will be more “Dark City” or “I, Robot”? And what do you think of Cage as Dracula?