Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Deus ex machina at its very finest

Deus ex machina, as defined by Answers.com, literally means 'god from machine' which could be traced back to the ancient Greek literature. 

Wikipedia.com added that Quintus Horatius Flaccus or Horace to the English-speaking world, the leading Roman poet during the time of Augustus, instructed poets in his writing, Ars Poetica, that they shouldn't end up, on desperate times, their plots in a god from a machine just for the sake of it. 

Horace was actually referring to the ancient Greek tragedy where, literally, actors are lowered via a crane portraying the role of a god or goddess. 

But on times where deus ex machina is needed, would you still limit yourself from doing such just because it's against what an ancient leading poet tells us so?

I dare say not.

'Knowing' proves that deus ex machina is never a cliche unless you use such tool in the most interesting and striking way. 

The film starts on 1959, where an elementary class in Massachusetts is instructed to drew what they think the future will be. This shall be buried in a time capsule and shall be opened 50 years after. Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson) did otherwise. Instead, she wrote a what seemed to be an endless string of numbers brought by voice whispering to her. 

At present time, 50 years later, the capsule was opened and the envelopes distributed to the students of the same institution. Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury) received Lucinda's work and eventually heard the same voices that whispered to the latter and saw black images of men surrounding their house. 

Caleb's dad, John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), an astrophysics professor in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes that the infinite intricacies binding the universe exists only as an astronomical anomaly, which kept him afar from pastor father and haunted him since his wife died.

However, one night, everything changed his views. 

He discovers that the numbers written by Lucinda was not just any ordinary random number, a small portion of the whole series was a numerical code that predicted the 9/11 attack - the date, the death toll, and the location of the tragedy. Furthermore, he discovers that all the numbers correspond to a particular tragedy from the day Lucinda wrote it to the present time, plane crashes, tsunamis, fires, hurricanes and a whole lot more.

John tries to unravel the mystery behind the numbers and soon discovers the story behind 'the whisper people' that haunted his son and Lucinda's grand daughter, Abby (also Lara Robinson).

Yet again, Nicolas Cage proves his acting skills as a very intelligent individual solving series of phenomenon - take it from National Treasure 1 to National Treasure 2. I don't know the reason why, but he keeps on portraying such roles, which, by the way, he's very good at.

The actors are just perfect for each role they are portraying - even Lara Robinson who also portrayed as Abby was unsuspectingly brilliant.

The handle is very creatively woven to have the audience's eyes stuck until the end of the film. The build up was very exciting to reveal the interesting part of the film, its ending. 

It seems to me as a wake up call - very timely for the celebration of Earth Hour. It's like watching a modern-day story of Noah and his arc where a very revolutionized arc gathered the chosen few to continue life after the end of the world.

Talking about the end of the world, what's best about the film is that it used a Nostradamus element in its most suspense treatment, which caught me off guard when the ending was finally revealed. 

I'll be honest here, what made me think twice if it really is a great film is its ending where it was revealed that the black mysterious men are aliens who will fetch Abby and Caleb for them to be saved from the world's end. The revelation was a bit exaggerated, for me and in my own opinion. It's maybe because I wasn't really expecting an alien invasion type of ending. 

Then I realized, what better ending can this film have but the deus ex machina way. It now perfectly made sense why such tool was ever invented - why the ancient greek poets used such.

'Knowing' may not be your award-winning flick that will harvest Oscars or the Golden Globe, but this will take the audience a step higher than what Armageddon and Deep Impact did.

Surely worth the pay.