An actual natural disaster movie sequel is something of a rarity and so upon hearing that The Wave (Bolgen) was getting a sequel involving the surviving cast of the original filled me with excitement. The Quake (Skjelvet in Norway) takes on this mantle by dealing with the fallout from the original before building up slowly to an almighty third act of carnage and survival.
The disasters faced
Earthquakes, bad industrial blasts, power cuts, evil theatre stages, elevators from hell, the worst slide in the history of disaster movies, PTSD, depression and a family that just can’t catch a break.
First things first, you’ll enjoy The Quake more if you’ve seen The Wave but it’s not mandatory. The Quake starts off with Kristian, our geologist father, being heralded a hero and loved by his wife Idun whom he rescues along with their son and daughter in the first film. Flash forward two years and Kristian has sunk into a deep depression for not being able to save more lives. Now separated from his family and alone, his despair has driven him to relive the tsunami over and over as he beats himself up for not being able to do more. Idun and daughter Julia try to support him but are constantly pushed away.
This all changes when Kristian’s colleague is killed and he meets his daughter Marit. Together they discover some fatal errors of local blasting and earthquake triggers that build up to the titular quake launching havoc. I’ve paraphrased a lot of this investigation because it’s one the weaker points of the film and left me slightly confused over exactly what was going on! As a complete flipside to The Wave, no one wants to cause a panic and so this becomes a family evacuation! When the quake hits Kristian, Julia and Marit are all busy in a huge hotel tower getting Idun out of there before the quake hits. Son Sondre and his girlfriend are at the University. Who exactly will survive this time in the highly populated city of Oslo?
Why is it worth watching?
The Quake follows the same tone as The Wave for the most part. It takes itself seriously even though there are some absolutely crazy scenes in the final half. It has its fair share of Hollywood moments – more than its prequel – but also digs deeper character wise. This is particularly true for Idun and Kristian whose marriage is boiling over with frustration and love. They play their parts absolutely superbly. Also a massive shout out to Julia, now three years older and very much central to the whole story.
As the film focusses so heavily on these three characters and how The Wave changed them, if you aren’t already invested in these characters from the get-go, the opening 20 minutes will be very slow for you. Similarly, if you don’t want to play geology-sleuth then the following 20 minutes after that may seem slow too. As someone that loves The Wave, I found this a real positive though as there is real character progression. The downside comes for Sondre who is relegated to little more than a bit part and an afterthought. It almost feels like he was added back into the film after the initial script and I’d have appreciated his arc being expanded and make the movie a few minutes longer. There are a few sub-character threads which all seem to stop at the quake point with no resolution either.
The films first half is a slow burn but when the carnage comes – it absolutely delivers. The Quake doesn’t have a blockbuster budget but it doesn’t show. The effects when used are superb, the set design and camera shots are inventive and The Quake makes use of every single Krone it has. There is a particular section where some of the building collapses and I had my heart in my mouth. The films third act takes cues from San Andreas but remains serious and panicked throughout. It’s lovely to see a film take itself seriously whilst not needing to resort to shock or extreme tactics to shake you.
I don’t want to dive into spoiler territory too much but by the end, I was quite emotional. I’d seen this family go through so much over the two films and I had my fears going in that this movie may not be nearly as kind to them. It’s a subtle tale of pulled back into making sure you take care of those you love and not take them for granted. It is just we destroy Oslo whilst doing so.
The quake itself has a really weird ripple effect which initially made me think of the film Tremors as the city rolls like a giant carpet bubble. It’s highly stylised but after watching it back I really like how it makes it feel like the quake itself is coming for the city. Elsewhere the building carnage is superb, rubble is everywhere and dangling pieces of building work a treat.
I found myself very invested in the main cast because I’d already spent nearly two hours with them. In The Wave, they were a stable and happy family so I felt their pain seeing them disjointed and depressed. Marit is the big new addition and is nice enough although she seems to have an absolute gullible deathwish on her. She follows Kristian with little argument down tunnels and slides about the hotel trying to save Julia with no questions asked. Julia is a great daughter although as mentioned earlier Sondre is sidelined with a girlfriend who has about 5 lines. The issue is that by being absent from the film, he comes across as nonchalant when he is in it. My big shout out is for Idun though. Her strength as a mother trying to hold everything together through her grit and determination is fantastic. Whilst it is refreshing to see a broken man in Kristian, its also great to see Idun take charge and look after herself and be there when it matters.
‘Can you not a least try to a little daddy?’
Three memorable moments
- When one building collapses into another turning the top half into a bendy slide!
- That elevator escape moment which ruined me.
- Julia sliding off the building onto the glass window. AH!
The obligatory weird moment
Nothing in The Quake is especially weird but I do absolutely love the fact that yet another disaster movie has a grand piano moment! I need to make a list of them all! This one pretty much causes someone to die too as the piano slides down the tilting building causing no end of drama. It hurtles out the window 30 floors up and I assume causing havoc off screen below!
The drinking game
There are a lot of awkward scenes of ‘Hi’…. ‘Hi’ … ‘Hi!’. For each one of those in the first half of the film – chug!
The Quake is a worthy successor to The Wave. When pushed I think I preferred The Wave a little more because it’s more evenly paced. The Quake, however, has a bigger budget and uses it all in its third act so if you don’t enjoy the character-heavy first half, they’ll be paraded before you with plenty of peril for the second half.
Rating – 4/5 Excellent
If you liked The Quake (Skjevlet) then you may like…
- The Wave (Bolgen) – prequel movie with the same cast. Watch them in order!
- San Andreas – many similar setups although more jokey in tone
- The Tower – Korean high rise fire movie which has a similar tone and drama
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