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Dustin Putman

The Wave  (2016)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: June 21, 2016) – Scandinavian action-drama "The Wave" stands as solid proof Hollywood isn't the only place where a good, old-fashioned disaster flick gets produced. Director Roar Uthaug and screenwriters Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and John Kåre Raake (2014's "Ragnarok") touch upon most of the formulaic chestnuts of the subgenre—the skeptic who does not listen to the hero's warning; the close calls; the clumsy bystanders who need help as the threat approaches; the race against time to save family members from imminent doom; the supporting character who loses his or her cool and falls victim in quick succession—but theirs is an appropriately tense and involving entry all the same.

It's moving day for geologist Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner) and his family, but he cannot shake the unsettling feeling danger is headed toward the idyllic Norwegian fjord of Geiranger. A day earlier, the station where he worked captured unstable readings at the Åkneset mountain pass. Not wanting to disturb tourist season, boss Arvid (Fridtjov Såheim) assured him there was nothing to worry about. He's not so sure. With hotel receptionist wife Inud (Ane Dahl Torp) working her final shift across town and teenage son Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro) staying in one of the rooms, Kristian must find a way to protect daughter Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande) and reach the rest of his loved ones as a devastating rockslide creates a massive tsunami headed right for them.

There are few surprises in "The Wave," but plenty of sticky situations devised for its characters. Guessing how they will escape while marveling at the amount of suspense director Roar Uthaug orchestrates is all part of the appeal. Are the leads likable and root-worthy? Check. Are the special effects convincing? Check. Is the plot cut-and-dry (and frequently ridiculous)? Check and check. Not terribly unlike 2015's Dwayne Johnson-led "San Andreas," "The Wave" will be a can't-miss proposition for disaster-movie buffs and a lighter but still hearty recommendation for anyone else willing to shut their brains off and go with the 278-ft.-high flow.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"The Wave" crashes onto Blu-ray with a top-notch 1080p transfer that brings additional detail, scope and dimensionality to its lovely Norwegian setting and the destruction coming to flatten everything in its wake. As unblemished as the rocky vistas themselves, this high-def transfer exquisitely resolves its every frame with earthy colors that pop, deep black levels, and ample depth and clarity. To my eyes, there is not a criticism to be found in its visual treatment. The Norwegian Dolby Atmos audio track (with optional English subtitles) rattles and rolls in ways both obvious and subtle. As an action movie, the soundfield immerses without overwhelming dialogue. The surrounds are equally impressive, with the rumbles of rocks, waves and music score completing the façade that was is happening is not only contained to the home-theater screen. An English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD is also offered. I tested it out and couldn't get through a minute of it due to the glaringly artificial voice dubbing.

Blu-ray Features
  • "Behind the Scenes of The Wave" Featurette (5:29, HD)
  • "The Wave Visual Effects Breakdown: Part 1" Featurette (3:14, HD)
  • "The Wave Visual Effects Breakdown: Part 2" Featurette (3:09, HD)
  • "The Wave Visual Effects Breakdown: Part 3" Featurette (3:06, HD)
  • Interview with Director Roar Uthaug (4:29, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:09, HD)
Bottom Line
Magnolia Home Entertainment sounds the alarm as "The Wave" peals onto Blu-ray. The film is exactly what one expects from a Hollywood disaster movie, but proves notable for being the first official movie of its type (on this scale) made in Norway. It's not deep, but it does entertain and sets one's nerves on edge more than once. Bonus content is relatively brief but informative, while picture and audio are without fault. "The Wave" comes recommended on Blu-ray.

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© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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