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Nicholas Cage is an MIT professor who explains to his students that maybe everything is determined, or maybe everything just happens. When his son gets a sheet with figures that were buried in the ground 50 years earlier by a strange little girl, the professor stumbles across patterns specifying events of the last decades. While trying to figure out what it all means, he meets the sheet’s author’s daughter and her kid, he encounters strange blonde men distributing pebbles, and he discovers the meaning of the remaining lines on the figure sheet.

This is nowhere near the worst film of all times, as some dear friends at the BBC 5 live show discuss it could be. It is, however, trying hard. While I was thoroughly entertained by the whole thing, I was realising that the list of very concrete flaws is so long to grant the film an entry in cinema’s record books:
• Nicholas Cage cannot act
• The film merges various genres along the way (thriller, mystery, science fiction, even horror) without giving the audience a chance why it would be necessary to do so. The plot only comes together in the last 10 minutes, when the cranking script fills every gap and explains the life out of itself: why did they hear voices, why do some of the people have a certain gift, who are these strange men, why is the question of determinism so important at the film’s opening, etc? You can nod at the film’s end, but you cannot be entusiastic: it is rather lifeless repaying of the debt the film has built up over the previous 2 hours.
• The film is terribly pretentious in what it wants to be. You could forgive the makers to present a little mystery sci-fi thriller that ends in desperation, death or surprise, but the wide apocalyptic perspective that suddenly comes in at a certain point us undeserved. You cannot change the tone from “The Road” to “Armageddon” within 2 hours, the audience does not buy that and never grasps the largesse of the last part.
• Those big vehicles that play a role at the end are really getting on my nerves. If somebody is, say, very intelligent and technologically advanced, why does he construct a means of transport that is constantly wasting energy by twisting, twitching, re-assembling, and by having all the lights on? Is this an OsramBot Transformers version that I missed when I was little?
• Nicholas Cage cannot act. When he tries, he ends up standing with spread legs, facing the big challenge with a gaping mouth and hair fluttering in the wind. Or on his knees, with his hair fluttering in the wind. Gaping mouth.
• The special effects are awful, with a plane crash that was clearly bought from or sold to the latest “24” season, tv quality in any case at best. And the burning moose… well, judge for yourself. It is not bad atmospherically, the “catastrophes” look quite absorbing, but that is despite the fact what they look like. I think that might be the gap in quality between the director and the rest of staff, he appears to be much more solid than anybody else in the crew.

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