Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Movie Review: Predestination

First, much about the movie including links to the trailer and the short story on which is is based over at this post from last September.  Go take a read and come back.  I'll wait.

OK, got all that?  Good, here's the review: 3.25 stars out of 4.  The movie largely stuck to the story, fleshing it out as needed to fill out an hour and a half.  There were no ruinous deviations from the story, a seldom seen phenomenon when classic sci-fi runs up against filmmakers.  A lot of the dialogue was lifted straight from the original, another plus.  Hats off to the people who made this thing!

The biggest change was that a dark undertone was given to the whole affair.  In the original short story, the protagonist seemed to a very free agent with much autonomy, whereas here in the movie there is more of a controlled bureaucratic organization and there are some wheels-within-wheels organization-building going on in the background.  Despite this, it never overshadows the main plot.  Also, there's a short epilogue-ish thing that wasn't in the original.  It feels tacked on and unneeded, at least if you've already read the story N >> 3 times.  Maybe it works better for a cold viewing of the film.  I will admit that it does wrap it up better than the "whew, that was some workday" have-a-drink-and-hit-the-rack original ending.

The look and feel of the movie are about right.  Snook is outstanding as The Unmarried Mother, Hawk is good as The Bartender.  Some of the retro-future stuff may come off as really flippin' weird if you're not already steeped in Heinlein's body of work, but in the context of when this was written (1959), the mid-60's through mid-70's are a nice blend of "yes, we're building a moon base" and the way things actually worked out.  It requires some suspension of disbelief.  If you can roll with that, it's a good show.  The places the look and feel could have been better were in the 40's and 70's noir scenes.  They... just didn't feel comfortable in their fedoras and trench coats.  Dunno, maybe it needed better camera angles and more slouch.  Also, and it's a minor point, even though "Old Underwear" received its mention in the bar scene, there was nary a bottle of Old Overholt in evidence.  This was an Australian production, and perhaps it's hard to come by in the Antipodes.  (I did have a taste while viewing however, so it was not entirely absent.  Authenticity is paramount.)

It's a lot of movie, and a lot of mind-twist to swallow for the unaccustomed.  However if all of that sounds good to you, you're in for a good movie.  Between this, Terminator, and Primer, you could have all of the major time travel themes under your belt in a single weekend, and do it in good style.

BTW, it's out on video already.  No, it never hit the silver screen within driving distance, but the wait wasn't too bad.

Re-viewied and re-considered:  Just as good, maybe slightly better on second viewing.  The few minor changes from the original story weren't as jarring.  Highly recommended!

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