Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Release Date: June 21, 2016

Region: Region A

Length: 105 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Norwegian Dolby Atmos

Alternate Audio: 5.1 English Dolby True HD (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English, English Narrative, English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 2.39:1

Bitrate: 31.01 Mbps

Notes: This title is also available in a DVD edition.

Bolgen

This is the original one sheet that was used to promote the film.

“There are registered more than 300 unstable mountainsides in Norway. One of the largest is “Åkerneset.” It’s a system of cracks 800 meter long that keep expanding up to 15 cm per year. When, not if, it falls 7 million cubic meters of rock will crash into the fjord below, creating an 80-meter high tsunami that will hit the local community of Geiranger after just 10 minutes. It was the perfect starting point for the first ever-Scandinavian disaster movie.” –Roar Uthaug (Press Book)

The Wave (or Bølgen, if one prefers the film’s original title) may be the first Norwegian disaster film, but it should be mentioned that the filmmaker’s seem to have taken notes from the countless disaster films that have been made by Hollywood. All of the expected tropes of the genre are here, but Uthaug puts them to smarter use.

“With THE WAVE I wanted to bring a traditional Hollywood genre closer to home. Moving away from president’s speeches and megacity mayhem, I wanted to experience the destruction through a normal family and the small community they live in. Working from the thought that the closer you feel to the characters, the more impact the imposing disaster will have… And although we of course wanted to create spectacular action sequences through practical and visual effects, the biggest impact should always come from the emotions of the human drama.” –Roar Uthaug (Press Book)

It is this focus on character that helps to set The Wave apart from the typical disaster spectacle. Hollywood films often spend so much time planning the spectacle that they neglect character. Viewers are left with mere outlines of “types.” The audience has no one to sympathize (or empathize) with, so the spectacle doesn’t serve anything but the director’s ego.

All things considered, the film’s story isn’t particularly groundbreaking. Nestled in Norway’s Sunnmøre region, Geiranger is one of the most spectacular tourist draws on the planet. With the mountain Åkerneset overlooking the village (and constantly threatening to collapse into the fjord), it is also a place where cataclysm could strike at any moment. After putting in several years at Geiranger’s warning center, geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) is moving on to a prestigious gig with an oil company. But the very day he’s about to drive his family to their new life in the city, Kristian senses something isn’t right. The substrata are shifting. No one wants to believe that this could be the big one, especially with tourist season at its peak, but when that mountain begins to crumble, every soul in Geiranger has ten minutes to get to high ground before a tsunami hits, consuming everything in its path. All of this has the kind of high-concept extravagance that one might expect to find in the cheesiest Michael Bay production, but the filmmakers understand that character development matters.

1

Silje Breivik and Kristoffer Joner in THE WAVE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

The disc is protected by a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork, and the case is protected by a special hologram slip cover.

 The menus utilize beach footage of the seascape as this environment slowly and subtly becomes more ominous. They are appropriate, attractive, and easy to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

It is always nice when a film’s Blu-ray transfer lives up to the format’s potential for clarity and detail, and this particular transfer is a good case in point. John Christian Rosenlund’s digital cinematography shines here. Actually, I would say that the overall effect is gorgeous. The lad and seascapes are nothing short of spectacular, and they are rendered with incredibly sharp detail. Contrast seems to be accurate as well. Solid blacks never seem to crush, and the image is clean and noise-free. If certain viewers disagree about this 5-star rating, it is probably because of the opening archival news footage. It is certainly of lesser quality, but this is intentional. It seems unfair to hold this against the film.

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Sound Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

The star track on this disc is definitely the Dolby Atmos track, which is a transfer of the film’s original theatrical mix. This is an incredibly immersive track that almost warrants the purchase of a top quality sound system (just to hear it at in the best environment possible). To call the track “dynamic” might very well be an understatement. Disaster films are known for their engulfing sound mixes, and this is a film that doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The water sounds that make up the film’s primary atmosphere wraps around the viewer from every direction, and one feels that they are there with the characters. Even the more subtle sounds in the track are given resonance in this mix. It is quite an experience. The English-dubbed track is slightly less impressive than the two Norwegian options, but it is nice to have this included on the disc.

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Stars

Behind the Scenes of “The Wave” – (1080P) – (04:29)

One would be daft to expect a proper “behind the scenes” look at the film after noting the four and a half minute runtime, but the viewer is given a very brief glimpse at some relatively interesting on-set footage. It is somewhat difficult to digest some of the interview blurbs (via subtitles) while attempting to view the footage, but this manages to marginally rise above the level of EPK fluff.

The Wave Visual Effects Breakdown: Part 1 – (1080P) – (03:14)

Lars Erik Hansen (VFX Supervisor) discusses the CGI creation of the film’s rockslide sequence, and the initial location scouting necessary to plan them.

The Wave Visual Effects Breakdown: Part 2 – (1080P) – (03:09)

Lars Erik Hansen (VFX Supervisor) discusses the CGI effects necessary to bring the film’s most famous sequence to life.

The Wave Visual Effects Breakdown: Part 3 – (1080P) – (03:06)

This final featurette concentrates on the effects created to bring the destruction of Geiranger to life on film.

Interview with Director Roar Uthuag – (1080i) – (04:29)

This English language interview with the film’s director isn’t very comprehensive, but some of Uthag’s remarks are interesting enough.

Theatrical Trailer – (1080P) – (02:09)

The film’s trailer features some of the film’s more sensational moments and it is easy enough to understand why. It isn’t the most interesting trailer in the universe, but it manages to get the job done. It is nice to have it included here.

That wraps up Magnolia’s supplemental package (unless one wishes to include the standard trailers for other Magnolia releases). The featurettes might have been marginally superior if the material had been edited as a single featurette with a twenty-something minute runtime, but this wouldn’t allow the packaging to promise five separate special features.

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This is the American one sheet used to promote THE WAVE.

Final Words:

It is safe to say that fan of the disaster film genre will want to watch The Wave, and this exceptional Blu-ray is a near perfect way to view the film in one’s home environment. The disc more than makes up for its merely average supplemental package with an incredible image transfer, an excellent Norwegian sound mix, and the film’s dubbed-in-English soundtrack.

Review by: Devon Powell

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