“The Quake” rumbles beyond Hollywood disaster porn

Updated: Apr 28, 2019


BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS

Geologist Kristian Eikjor (Kristoffer Joner) tries to rescue his daughter Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande) after a massive earthquake hits Norway’s capital city, Oslo.




(Frame shots courtesy of Magnolia Home Entertainment)

“THE QUAKE”


Blu-ray, DVD; 2018; PG-13 for intense sequences of peril and destruction, injury images and brief, strong profanity; streaming via Amazon Video/Prime, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Hulu


Best extra: A series of behind-scenes featurettes










READY FOR a palm-sweating, nail-biting thriller? It’s here in “The Quake.”


It’s a direct sequel to “The Wave” (2015), where a rockslide slams a fjord – a long, narrow sea inlet between high cliffs – and creates a tsunami that destroys Geiranger, home of one Norway’s most popular tourist locations. There were a few that happened back in the 1930s, and, during the ‘80s, geologists found cracks causing them to consider it might happen again.


“The Quake” does the same in Norway’s capital city, Oslo. “Just like with ‘The Wave,’ ‘The Quake’ is solidly founded on something that happened in Oslo, which might actually happen again,” Producer Martin Sundland says in the behind-scenes featurettes included on Magnolia Pictures presentation. “There was a large earthquake in 1904, 5.4 on the Richter scale … If we were to get a quake of that size or more [now], there would be fatal consequences for a city like Oslo with 600,000 to 700,000 people.”


Director John Andreas Andersen steps in for Roar Uthaug, who went on to direct the dismal 2018 “Tomb Raider.” But original writers John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg return with cinematographer John Christian Rosenlund to pursue the new story on film. Also returning are cast members Kristoffer Joner, Sondre Eikjord, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, and Jonas Hoff Ofebro, with Ane Dahl Torp.



Julia visits her father and finds a room full of news articles and photographs related to the tsunami that killed 248 people in their old home.

Kristian, who tried to warn officials of the tsumani, still suffers intense survivor’s guilt and PTSD. Now separated from his family, he struggles to communicate with his daughter during her visit.

He abruptly sends Julia back to her mother in Oslo: “I can’t have visitors now.”

Kristian visits his wife Indun (Ane Dahl Torp) and children to return a sweater Julia left behind. They all love each other and hope to be reunited when he's ready. Kristian then begins investigating the death of a geologist friend who believed a major earthquake is about to hit Oslow.


Geologist Kristian Eikjor (Joner) has taken a beating in the aftermath of the tsunami. Called a hero for his attempts to warn others and for rescuing many who might have been killed, he suffers intense survivor’s guilt and PTSD. He looks as if he’s taken a physical beating, with sunken cheeks and hollowed eyes. None of it looks like make-up. Eikjor has separated from his family, who now live in Oslo. He’s so jittery, he can’t even tolerate a visit from his young daughter.


Eikjor keeps going over his notes, trying to see if he could have done anything differently, anything to save more people – and begins to find signs of possible earthquake activity in Oslo. He confers with others who, as before, scoff at his warnings until it’s too late. But – as fate and the film gods would have it – there’s a quake in the works and it’s a bad one. The writers, director and actors convince us this is more than a plot device.


Still, the audience knows that quake is coming, and when it does, the effects are spectacular. Some will complain it takes too long to get there, but the film only runs 108 minutes. It helps if you’ve seen the first film (also on disc, Netflix and other streaming sites). Rosenlund creates a visual companion to “The Wave” even with the new settings. Oslow is very much the bustling, shiny city compared to the scenic resort of Geiranger.


But the best part is how they capture the emotional heart of the family involved. We care for and believe in this man and his family. That’s what sets “The Quake” apart from popcorn flicks like “Dante’s Peak,” “San Andreas,” “2012” and “Day After Tomorrow.” They entertain, but don’t stay long after the lights come back up. “The Quake” seems real.


“It came as a shock to me when Martin Sundland … said he wanted to make an earthquake film in Oslo. I thought it was dumb until I started reading the research … showing that the film is based on a newspaper article from 2004 by NORSAR (Norwegian Seismic Array).” — John Andreas Andersen, director


The 1080p transfer (2.40:1 aspect ratio) is a beaut. Color leans toward blues and grays, with few warm scenes, but is well saturated and consistent. Detail is also a standout, with natural lighting and good contrast. CGI – and there is plenty of it, especially when two glass skyscrapers fall apart – looks authentic. “The Quake” is not the film for anyone with a fear of heights.



Kristian checks his friend's charts and data verifying disaster is eminent.

Kristian investigates the tunnel where his friend died and discovers signs of tremor activity.



Go with the English subtitles on the original Norwegian soundtrack for the best sound experience. It offers exciting Dolby Atmos and default Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtracks; the English dub is only Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and sounds flat in comparison. The Atmos track supplies great height effects as buildings crash around the characters, while the eight-channel default also delivers energetic surround effects, dynamic bass, and clear dialogue. This is a case where the audio totally compliments the visuals for a uncommonly harrowing experience. Eyes will be fixed to the screen so no one will miss a jot of dialogue.


Extras are brief with behind-scenes featurettes covering making-of details with interviews from the filmmakers and actors.


“What’s frightening is how people might think that we have an alarm system [in Oslo]. But we don’t. There’s no one to call.” — Kristoffer Joner, actor


Viewers don’t have to see “The Wave” to enjoy “The Quake,” but why not?  The slower buildup creates suspense. Like Eikjor, we know something’s going to happen, but there’s no telling when, how badly or who will survive.


— Kay Reynolds


The massive quake hits Oslo.

Kristian first feels the quake in his hands, while trying to get his wife out of the hotel where she works.

Kristian's college age son Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro) and his girlfriend survive the initial quake.

The late scientist's daughter Marit (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen) finds Julia on the top story of the hotel as the quake hits Oslo. Searching for his wandering child, Kristian finds them among the debris.

When an aftershock stops their escape, Julia slides down onto a plate glass window. It stops her fall - then begins to crack under her weight.

Kristian reunites with Julia.



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