Updated: Jun 12, 2018
Blu-ray, DVD; 2015; R for some profanity and action violence; streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNow, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: Interview with director Roar Uthaug (“Cold Prey,” “Escape”)
THE FIRST ever Norwegian disaster movie is based on true events director Roar Uthaug says in his interview on Magnolia Home Entertainment’s disc.
A rockslide goes into the fjord, a long, narrow sea inlet between high cliffs, and creates a tsunami that destroys Geiranger, home of one the country’s most popular tourist locations.
“We had a couple of them back in the 30s,” Uthaug says. “Then, in the 80s, geologists discovered a crack in the mountainside in one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords. It keeps expanding each year.”
“The Wave” explores that possibility.
Imagine a shark plowing in a’la “Jaws” except there’s no way a bigger boat will help. When confronted with dire and immediate probabilities, the supervisor of the local analysis and forecast unit refuses to hit the warning button. It might disrupt the tourist season.
But our reluctant visionary, Kristian Eikjord, is persistent. A former member of the team, he has accepted a new job and is preparing to leave town with his wife and children. Events keep them in Geiranger. And, when the rockslide strikes, there’s a wild scramble up the mountain to safety along with the rest of the town. They only have 10 minutes once the evacuation siren sounds.
Played by Kristoffer Joner, Eikjord may look familiar to some. Joner was a member of “The Revenant’s” cast. He also looks a bit like Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon of “The Walking Dead” making it even easier for us to believe in him.
“The Wave” had a much smaller budget than any Hollywood disaster film, but you’d never know it. The effects, explored in the making-of and visual effects bonus features, are excellent. The film opens with grainy archival footage of the historic tsunamis before we get into the 1080p transfer. Filmed by cinematographer John Christian Rosenlund, we get a good look at Norway’s natural, mountainous beauty. Jagged cliffs, skyscapes, fjords and landscapes are clearly defined with good depth and detail. Eikjord makes his way across an apocalyptic landscape after the tsunami hits in search of his wife and son. That’s where we see solid, inky blacks, smoke and shadows showcased by pockets of fire.
Sound is delivered via Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 in Norwegian with subtitles. There is also an English dub in TrueHD 5.1. Stick with the subtitled version for the best viewing experience; you won’t want to look away from the screen anyway. Dialogue and ambient sound comes through distinctly. The rockslide, wave and haunting aftermath are completely immersive and realistic.
Those who watch disaster films will find familiar tropes. Several moments are downright predictable even if “The Wave” is more controlled and unpretentious than “Dante’s Peak,” “Volcano” or “2012.” Get out the popcorn and give it a try.
— Kay Reynolds