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Roar Uthaug
Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro
Writing Credits:
John Kåre Raake, Harald Rosenløw-Eeg

Even though expected, no one feels prepared when the mountain pass of Åkneset collapses and creates an 85-meter-high tsunami. A geologist is one of those caught in the middle of it.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Norwegian Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 6/21/2016

• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• 3 Visual Effects Breakdowns
• Interview with Director Roar Uthaug
• Previews and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Wave [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 6, 2016)

Some cinematic genres seem more closely affiliated with various countries/cultures than others, and the disaster movie feels inherently American to me. That doesn’t mean other regions don’t give the topic their own spin, however, and 2015’s The Wave provides a Norwegian disaster flick.

Set in the small Norwegian village of Geiranger, spectacular mountain passes make the area a tourist draw. However, these locations also mean that Geiranger suffers from a ticking time bomb, as these ranges come with inherent instability that seems likely to cause mayhem eventually.

As geologist Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner) learns, “eventually” means “now”. After a rockslide causes a massive tsunami, Kristian and all the other locals scramble to escape the impending doom.

Due to its emphasis on water-related menace, The Wave seems most likely to get compared to efforts like The Poseidon Adventure or The Perfect Storm. Instead, I think its closest cinematic forebear comes from 1997’s Dante’s Peak.

Many of the similarities relate to the film’s settings, as both plop their characters into quaint little towns. Both also feature mountains that cause disaster and lead characters who predict doom but get ignored by others.

Not that Peak or Wave cornered the market on the latter theme, as it plays a role in many films of this sort. Jaws, Towering Inferno, you name it – the lead who sees a threat others refuse to acknowledge exists as a genre cliché.

Given its investment in shopworn character choices, does The Wave do anything to differentiate itself from other disaster films? Not really, and it squanders its lengthy first act, as it fails to set up its participants in a compelling manner.

Wave makes us wait quite a while before any action occurs. Rather than use this period to get us to invest in the characters, we mostly see Kristian as he explores, advocates and sulks. We never really know – or care – much about Kristian, his family, or any others.

This means that once the mayhem begins, we don’t fret too much about who’ll live or die. Having seen many movies of this sort, we already boast a pretty good idea of how matters will unfold, and Wave does nothing to challenge those assumptions.

Really, there’s not much – if anything – I could call new in The Wave, and that becomes a liability. Not that I expect it to totally reinvent the disaster wheel, but I’d like something that at least attempts originality or creativity.

Neither occurs here. As mentioned earlier, The Wave comes with obvious connections to prior disaster films, and it doesn’t manage to forge its own identity. We feel like we’ve seen it all before – and seen it better. Heck, it even steals dramatic elements from sources like The Abyss and Titanic.

Mediocre production values don’t help. I suspect The Wave enjoyed a fairly limited budget, and it shows – mainly via the iffy computer graphics. In particular, water never looks especially convincing, and since the story revolves around a tsunami, that turns into a problem.

Going back to my childhood, I loved disaster movies, and I still enjoy them when done well. The Wave occasionally threatens to come to life, but it seems too cliché and too pedestrian to become a memorable genre entry.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Wave appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This became an appealing transfer.

Sharpness satisfied most of the time. A few shots seemed a wee bit soft, but not to a substantial degree, so most of the movie looked accurate and well-defined. No shimmering or jaggies occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes or print flaws.

Apparently Hollywood Standard Orange and Teal is also Norwegian Standard, as those cliché tones dominated the film’s palette. This depressed me, but at least the transfer replicated the hues in an appropriate manner. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated good clarity. The image seemed pleasing.

I also felt happy with the solid Dolby Atmos soundtrack of The Wave. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the mix offered plenty of opportunities for lively auditory information, and it took good advantage of these.

Though the soundtrack took a while to kick into gear. Much of the opening act focused on gentle ambience, and the mix didn’t start to become lively until close to the movie’s halfway point.

From there, however, it worked well. The rockslide and ensuring damage/mayhem used all the channels in a vivid manner that occupied the speakers with excellent action. These elements gave the mix real heft and impact,

Audio quality was also positive. Music sounded lively and full, while effects delivered accurate material. Those elements showed nice clarity and kick, with tight low-end. Speech was always distinctive and concise, too. This mix worked well for the film.

Note that the Blu-ray also included a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English version of the soundtrack. The dubbed lines suffered from poor integration and even worse performance quality. I got the impression they nabbed “voice actors” off the street and that was that. Even if you loathe subtitles, avoid the terrible English track.

A few extras appear here, and we start with Behind the Scenes of The Wave. It goes for five minutes, 29 seconds and offers remarks from director Roar Uthaug, producer Martin Sundland, cinematographer John Christian Rosenlund, screenwriter John Kåre Raake, and actor Kristoffer Joner. We learn about a few production elements but mostly view work on various sets. “Scenes” delivers a short but moderately interesting piece.

Three Visual Effects Breakdowns fill a total of nine minutes, 29 seconds. These feature notes from VFX supervisor Lars Erik Hansen. We see effects shots at various stages of completion and learn about aspects of their creation. The clips offer satisfying overviews.

An Interview with Director Roar Uthaug lasts four minutes, 29 seconds. In it, the filmmaker discusses story and character areas, the project’s genesis, cast and performances, and genre elements. This turns into a superficial and fairly promotional chat.

The disc opens with ads for High-Rise, Gridlocked, Synchronicity and A War. We also find the trailer for The Wave.

Don’t expect the Norwegians to do anything to reinvent or reinvigorate the disaster genre. Though it comes with a few moderately exciting sequences, The Wave feels too predictable and trite to become a winning effort. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio but it lacks notable supplements. The Wave ends up as a minor diversion at best.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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