Character Driven Spectacle: Our Review of ‘The Quake’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - December 13, 2018
Character Driven Spectacle: Our Review of ‘The Quake’

Tragedy and disaster have a relationship that go hand in hand together…

The Quake (much like its predecessor, The Wave) is a highly entertaining disaster yarn that weaves together some very good action set pieces along with the human drama that comes along with it all.

In 1904 an earthquake with a 5.4 magnitude on the Richter scale shook Oslo. Its epicenter was in the Oslo Rift which runs directly through the Norwegian capital. There are recorded quakes from the rift on a daily basis and geologists cannot be sure, but arguments indicate that we can expect major future earthquakes in this area. When – nobody can say for certain – but we know that the density of people and infrastructure in Oslo is significantly more vulnerable today than in 1904. What if a massive earthquake is looming?

Three years after the events of The Wave is a nice disaster filled follow up about the hubris of man and the carnage that can be wrought by underestimating Mother Nature.  It’s a film that allows for really head spinning thrills but also allows for the human element and consequences of the destruction that these natural disasters can bring.

Long time cinematographer John Andreas Anderson takes over the director’s chair from Roar Uthaug (who went on to do the recent reboot of Tomb Raider) but basically everyone else returns to give this all a real sense of gravitas.  Much like the first it starts off with strong character development as we get invested in what has happened to the survivors of the tsunami those years ago and the narrative allows them to grow.  Varying in ranges from being haunted by the catastrophe, to worrying if there’s going to be more and just trying to move on are things that all come into play.  The script from original writers John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg takes it’s time in getting everything established but that allows for the destruction to feel all the more relevant.  Anderson has a very solid sense of scale and scope making it all feel very big, while undoubtedly working on a modest budget.  He showcases the real skill of ultimately doing less with more and is yet another talent of the global directing stage that could easily find his way to Hollywood sooner rather than later.

Kristoffer Joner returns as our anxious scientist on the wrong side of the facts, Kristian Elkjord.  Haunted by the trauma of the tsunami and its aftermath three years earlier, everyone things that Kristian just can’t move on as it subsequently costs him many of his relationships along the way…this is until he’s proven right.  Joner plays the awkward hero pretty well and we get drawn into his journey to not only shake the events of the past but to find away to protect his family from the future that he knows is coming.

The entire cast returns to give a real connection between these films and it helps because while this is an obvious disaster movie at its core it really is a story about the human toll that these events can take on people and it all comes through very well.

When all is said and done, The Quake is a Euro Disaster Flick; it gives us the entire spectacle that drives audiences into the theatres, but the character drama to keep us engaged through the highs and the lows that these characters have to survive through.  This isn’t a heroic story; it’s about being confronted with unimaginable situations and finding the strength to keep going and save the ones that you love.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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