Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Film Review: Tidal Wave (2009)

Tidal Wave (Review)
South Korea/2009
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes 

Every year, Haeundae-gu in Busan, South Korea, attracts millions of visitors to the sunny beaches. In 2009, a geologist traces nearby earthquakes and finds alarming signs of a potential tsunami right around the corner - a tsunami that would only give the people 10 minutes to evacuate before the city is swallowed by a massive wave.

Tidal Wave, or Haeundae, introduces many characters throughout its story. In fact, the first hour and 20 minutes or so revolves around the characters, as well as building up the imminent disaster. I personally liked most of the character, they were genuinely funny; whether they were clumsy or drunk, they'd end up in funny situations, like accidentally consuming soap or pretending to be blind. This build-up/development phase of the movie, which lasts the first two acts, is very lighthearted and enjoyable... which makes the disaster emotionally effective. The disaster isn't the Hollywood type where the main characters live happily ever after. No, Tidal Wave pulls on your emotions with heartbreaking sacrifices and deaths. Everyone doesn't live happily ever after, and I like this (somewhat) realistic approach as it changes the formula. There are a few scenes that feel unrealistic and out-of-place during the disaster, however, and these scenes somewhat break the immersion and believability. If you don't mind melodrama, it shouldn't be a significant issue, though.

As previously stated, the first two acts build-up characters and relationships as well as the imminent disaster; and, the third act is the actual disaster. I like this blend of light-hearted comedy and unexpectedly effective tragedy. I feel like because the first half of the film is so light-hearted and humorous, the second half of the film is so much more effective. So, the comedy and drama blend to create an effective bittersweet experience. There a couple of scenes of overacting, where it starts to be too much; I'm comfortable with overdramatic situations, but this film has one too many. As another note, the disaster only lasts around 30 minutes, but it is nonstop for that period; every minute of this disaster focuses on the choices of the characters, and their triumph or loss. I really like the structure of the film.

The acting is great, overall. The entire cast deliver fluently and realistically, and they create likable characters. However, there are quite a few scenes of overacting; simply emoting too much emotion at once. I enjoy the music for the film; it blends seamlessly with the film as it matched the emotion, whether light-hearted and fun or sad and depressing. The cinematography is great, the film is shot beautifully. The special effects are also great, matching the top films from Hollywood.

Overall, Tidal Wave is a very effective disaster movie with actual build-up and character. This film doesn't throw a disaster at you and expect you to care; it takes it time developing its characters and building up suspense for the disaster, then it hits you with an emotional rollercoaster - expect the unexpected, especially if you're not familiar with foreign films. If it counts for anything, I prefer Tidal Wave over The Impossible. I recommend a purchase for fans of the genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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