Review: THE QUAKE Doesn’t Shake Up The Formula

quake flashlight
Kristoffer Joner and Ane Dahl Torp in THE QUAKE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

The Quake is a new Norwegian film directed by John Andreas Andersen. It is a loose sequel to the 2015 movie The Wave. It follows geologist Kristian Eikjord as he investigates suspicious seismic activity that shows there may be a repeat of a massive earthquake from 1904 in Oslo.

In terms of story, this movie was a pretty straightforward disaster flick. The film doesn’t do very much to make itself stand out from the formula. Small but important “mini-disasters” happen in the first half of the movie, only the protagonist can see their impact, and when no one else listens to them, the big disaster comes. The film struggles at times due to its lack of fresh ideas.

The pacing is also rather inconsistent. The first half of the movie is very slow, as the story takes a bit too long with the buildup. The second half, on the other hand, feels extremely rushed. There is a lot of intensity in this portion of the film, but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. Had the movie spent about ten less minutes in the buildup and twenty more in the eponymous disaster, it would have been even more entertaining.

quake building
Kathrine Thorborg Johansen in THE QUAKE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

The character development is also somewhat weak. Perhaps if you are familiar with the previous movie, you will already have a connection with the characters, but this film could have done more to make the characters more sympathetic. That being said, there are a few character-driven scenes that do work quite well, such as a scene early in the movie with the protagonist and his daughter.

Despite lackluster character development, the film still succeeds in having emotional impact. This is because the movie has legitimate stakes, unlike many other films of the genre. That is the only thing that really makes it stand out among the crowd of disaster movies. There are a few scenes that are truly resonant.

quake elevator
A scene from THE QUAKE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

The movie also contains some solid action sequences. To be fair, it’s hard to make an earthquake not seem intense, so the film has a lot of excitement. There are quite a few setpieces that were impressive in the latter half of the movie. The scene in the elevator was particularly good.

The visuals are great too. The cinematography and production design are both excellent. The scale of the movie is very impressive. The special effects are great too, especially for a film without a Hollywood budget. In fact, the special effects look better than those in recent Hollywood attempts at the genre such as San Andreas.

Overall, The Quake is a solidly-made, but somewhat generic disaster movie. Its impressive visuals and actual stakes make it worth a watch, though.

The Quake is in theaters and on VOD beginning December 14.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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