The Universal Language of Disaster: Our Review of ‘The Wave’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 04, 2016
The Universal Language of Disaster: Our Review of ‘The Wave’

It’s a common misconception in many circles that Hollywood has the market cornered when it comes to making something like a disaster epic.

The Wave is a unique beast as it takes a standard family drama and lets it go full throttle into Irwin Allen mode, and while it hiccups on occasion from a storyline perspective it makes for a fun and entertaining ride.

One of Norway’s most spectacular tourist draws is also a place where disaster could strike at the drop of a hat as Geiranger and its mountain Åkerneset are the beautiful balance of idyllic and nightmarish.  After putting in several years at Geiranger’s warning center, geologist Kristian () is moving on to a prestigious gig with an oil company. However the very day he’s about to drive his family to their new life in the city, Kristian senses something isn’t right.   Things are shifting and with tourist season at an all time high, no one wants to believe that this could be the event that they are all dreading but when the mountain begins to crumble, everyone in town has ten minutes to get to higher ground before a deadly tsunami wipes everything out.

For the most part, The Wave is the best of European sensibilities with some classic Hollywood filmmaking.  Director Roar Uthaug crafts a lean and mean ride that doesn’t skimp on a story about a man trying to improve the well being of his family while not being able to shake what is going on at a job that he has given his life to for several years.  The narrative moves quickly and gets us straight to what we as an audience have come to see in the first place, the action.  The effects are actually quite good with a solid mix between the practical and the visual FX we truly do feel like a wall of water is hurtling at us as fast as it possible can.  The script hits all the beats that it is supposed, almost too much so as the third act gets a little unnecessarily melodramatic but despite the clunky ending, this still plays as one hell of a fun ride.


Star Kristoffer Joner sells it all quite well and makes for a solid every man hero who is faced with some incredibly difficult decisions trying to escape the tsunami.  To the film’s credit, it never shies away from the fact that he knows and sees a lot of people die right in front of his eyes.  It’s never short changed as he struggles to remain focused and save his family in the face of some impossible odds.  The rest of the ensemble is fine and truly no one tries to outshine the rushing water that is about take over their lives.

At the end of the day, The Wave is a solid disaster flick that learned all the right lessons from the Hollywood epics of yesteryear.  It won’t light the world on fire, but it makes for some very solid entertainment.

The Wave is playing in select theatres and is available via most VOD platforms.

  • Release Date: 3/4/2016
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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