So what the hell is a live blog? Allow me to explain. Suppose for a moment that I am a real writer, yeah yeah hold the laughter. As a real writer, I get assigned to cover some event of significance. A live blog setup allows me to take a post and fill it with time stamped sub-posts as the event unfolds: instant and unfettered access to my thoughts as they are happening. After installing live blog functionality to the Page of Reviews, I promptly set about trying to come up with a way to use it. “Why not try live blogging a movie review?” I said to myself.
I’m well aware that this might be a terrible idea. But it is Sunday afternoon and I figured why not try something different.
As the title of the post suggests, I’m going to be live reviewing a movie called Primer. I picked this movie because it was the only entry on IO9’s list of 25 seminal sci-fi movies that I haven’t seen.
There’s two ways you can read this post – keep it open on your screen over the next two hours and occasionally look at it to get caught up on the posts, or read it all when things are said and done.
Obviously, spoilers will abound.
This is a triumph
I’m making a note here, huge success
It’s hard to understate my satisfaction
We do what we must, because, we can.
For the good of all of us, except the ones who are dead.
Alright, pressed play on the movie and here we go.
The movie has started with four guys talking about their garage business. Clearly, we are in the middle of a larger story. There’s something contentious going on between the partners in this business.
The movie is giving me a lot of science words, but not a lot of context. That’s a fairly insightful technique for keeping engineers in audience from jumping all over the dialogue. I just wish I knew what the hell was going on.
The guys, have built a box that reduces the mass of stuff. That is useful. Oh and now they are unconscious for some reason.
In addition to reducing the mass of things inside the box, the box also creates more power than it draws. The movie now takes a turn from office ennui into quantum physics.
Boom and there we have it, time travel. The box accelerates local space time. Christ, I feel like I need a degree in theoretical physics to understand any of the conversation in this movie.
Ah the obligatory time travel movie references to causality. “Don’t watch the news, don’t call people and don’t let people see you then you can’t possibly fuck things up.” Still, I love that this movie is having garage scientists use time travel as a way to get ahead on the stock market.
I have to admit, I’ll give this movie credit for having people do exactly what I do if I had my own time machine. Although, the movie is now taking a turn toward the metaphysical. I really don’t want to watch a person with a time machine to start bitching about his fate and destiny.
The family man character is not dealing very well with the idea of time travel. In fact, he’s being down right irresponsible with his cavalier disregard for the rules of causality. However, “Are you hungry? I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon,” is the best line I have ever heard in any time travel movie.
Wait one, they are using time travel so they can sleep uninterrupted through the night? I’m normally quite good with four dimensional thought but this is rather taxing.
Okay, there is so much time travel happening that I’ve lost track of the timelines. I need The Doctor in here to help sort this movie out.
You know, I still don’t quite remember how we went from a box that accelerated local space-time to something that would let you return to a fixed point in space-time. I also don’t remember when Aaron, the family man, turned into the guy who made time travel work for him and Abe, the guy who seemed so square with it in the beginning turned into the head case.
And now it’s over.
I think the whole point of the third act was to have a bit of dueling time traveler effect. I might have to watch this movie again to try and sort through all the causality built upon causality. Although, I can’t shake images of Rowan Atkinson’s Doctor Who satire wherein he and The Master are in a battle of who can plan to time travel back the farthest to foil the other person. I can’t help but feel that is really at the crux of this movie. Somebody feel free to tell me if they disagree.
While the idea behind this picture is really good, I don’t feel that the acting, pacing and dialogue quite matched the imagination of the script. This might be a movie about people using time travel for irresponsible personal gain, but the story moved at such break neck speeds that I never got a feel for why this was happening. Am I to assume that the ability to be prescient gave Aaron a god complex and his domestic life became an object of contempt? Or was it something more base than that and Aaron was in it to sleep comfortably on a giant pile of money surrounded by a harem of bimbos?
Sufficed to say Primer has offered a lot to think about; it is hardly the Sunday afternoon lark that I was expecting. I wouldn’t recommend this for the easily confused or as a primer for time travel movies. Then again, I can’t think of a lot of good time travel movies that don’t involve Delorians, so why not use this as an introduction to the complexities of quantum teleportation.
Overall Score: 3.5
PS: I was home alone while watching Primer. Ten minutes after I finished it, my girlfriend came home. I attempted to explain the movie to her, if only as a means to try and sort it all out for myself. When I saw her eyes glaze over as I stumbled through the nuances of causality and quantum teleportation, I changed gears and went for a pithy explanation.
“”Two guys accidentally discover time travel. It’s not back to the future style, though. If you want to go back an hour it takes an hour to do so. At first, the guys try to respect causality while using time travel to make money on the stock market. Then, some stuff happens and one guy decides to fuck casualty as hard as he possibly could.” I then made some thrusting motions with my hips and the cat looked at me like I was insane.
Good night, everybody.
11:23AM: Still no snow. Is it the calm before the storm, or the nothing before the nothing?
Still no snow. Decided to watch Lord of War while I wait for my impending doom. I remain convinced that Nick Cage has one character, Nick Cage.
I think I saw a few snowflakes, but that might have been tree dandruff. Meanwhile, Nicholas Cage’s ability to narrate a movie is proving to be better than expected. I mean it’s not great. However, it has collected a few tragic laughs at the expense of bad foreign policy in the post-Soviet era.
The movie just took an interesting, if predictable, turn. I wondered how long it would take Ethan Hawke to hit Nicholas Cage where he lived. In the interim, I’ve assigned Pericles to the snow watch. As of right now, he has nothing to report.
Against all odds, I actually liked a Nicholas Cage movie. I suppose that makes two in total, but that other one one also had Sean Connery and Ed Harris so I don’t know if it counts as a Nicholas Cage movie. Of course, that other one was also directed by Michael Bay, which means I should hate it on principle alone. Lord of War might be a little bit heavy handed with its message, but it presents a grim air of honesty and a protagonist with such indifference to human suffering that I can’t help but give the movie some respect. And really, I don’t think there’s any way you can do subtle when dealing with conflict in West Africa. I should hate myself given the content, but I love it when a bad guy wins; it’s so much more honest to the reality of life on this planet.
I’m going to give Lord of War a well deserved +3.
Speaking of reality, Pericles got bored on snow patrol. The last report he gave, before relocating to the couch for an afternoon nap, was absent snow. Gods damn it, I don’t feel like teaching tonight. You know all the hubris that I am building up by mocking the weather will be repaid the moment I put foot to accelerator.
I still can’t tell if it is snowing, or if the snow on the ground is just getting blown about. Sufficed to say it is windy and seems ominous out. I remain unimpressed with hell’s own snowstorm. The weather, just like the trailer for the new transformers movie, looks more interesting than it will probably turn out to be. Well what do you know, today is shaping up to be a bit of a slag on Michael Bay day.
6PM, officially have to go teach tonight. Balls. Anybody care to place bets on how badly it starts snowing on my drive home? Or maybe nature doesn’t quite have it in her to bring the noise.
So, Earth. You think this scares me? This doesn’t scare me. I have lived through 8 years of George W. Bush and 5 years of Stephen Harper; you are going to have to do better than something that looks like it came out of The Day After Tomorrow to scare me. Incidentally, does anybody have an English to Spanish dictionary?
Hey, mother nature. Who do you think you are? No really, you have some nerve, lady. I’ve spent all day waiting for you to show up and here I am, 1:15AM and you’re still not here. I don’t know how they do things where you come from, but in these parts you show up when you make a date with somebody. Do you think that I had nothing better to do today than sit around, losing at Starcraft while I waited for you to show up. And now you have your toadies in the media tell me, “Oh Adam, it’s okay she’s on her way right now. She’s in London and will get to your apartment within a couple hours.”
Seriously, London? You whore! Who else have you been with today? And to pile insult upon injury, you’re not even coming to me right away, you’re stopping in Hamilton first.
So this is how it is going to go down. I’m going to go make myself a scotch and soda, then I’m going to drink it. After that, I’m going to go read a book until I fall asleep. If you want to make it up to me, then show me you are serious about things and give me a snow day tomorrow.
Kindly fuck off otherwise,
Remember that part in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail when the French knights taunted King Arthur so harshly that he and the other knights went to go snow on Ottawa rather than the GTA and Niagara Region? Yeah, you’re welcome South Western Ontario. Only 5CM of snow and we get a snow day? If ever there has been anything that is full of win, surely it must be this day.
Thus do I declare snowpocalypse 2011, normal weather for the middle of fucking winter; two days of hype and this light dusting is what we have to show for it? Seriously though, I figured that after my third taunt of nature I would get served a steaming pile of “you were wrong, Adam”. Anyway, it’s nice to know that throughout all of this, the local and national media put such a fear in people that they ransacked grocery stores and surrounded themselves with bottled water, canned food and personal generators in the finest fashion of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s a real shame the world never ends when you plan for it. Now if you will excuse me, I have to add a bit more awesome to my resume.
Two minutes to show time. Are we getting excited yet?
Movie starts, now. And of course we have five minutes of movie network promos and commercials. Eww who wants to watch Striptease?
And we’re off. Some sort of dinosaur monster is chasing a fifteen year old through the jungle. Now the dinosaur has disappeared and some guy who looks like one of those pig face aliens from The Twilight Zone just impaled said teenager and took his necklace. I think those are the bad guys.
Wow, four minutes into the movie and we’ve already got some obligatory product placement. And a blonde in a bikini. These are supposed to be teenagers, right?
Aww he wants to have sex with the blonde but can’t because some alien stuff is happening to him.
I love it when people say the name of the movie in the movie. It’s so clever.
Number Four’s name is Daniel. He is an alien from another planet. Daniel has a protector named Henry.
Ah exposition, it’s a good thing you are there to tell me all of these things that I couldn’t figure out on my own. Bad aliens want to hunt down special alien children living on earth, and Daniel is next. To hide from the bad aliens, Henry and #4 are hiding out in Paradise, Ohio where they somehow own a mansion. That’s convenient.
Foreshadowing alert: Henry has a magic cigar box that he will give to Daniel, whose name is now John. I expect it will light their darkest hour.
And an angry looking Blonde just exploded a building. Why? To give the producers an excuse to play “Rolling in the Deep” and to establish that she is also an alien. Snore.
Wow, I shit you not, I think one of the bad aliens is masquerading as an evil dog with shifty eyes vis-a-vis Homer Simpson’s remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. And surprise surprise, another Blonde just got introduced into the movie. This one is a renegade blogger who takes pictures of teachers picking their noses. America’s high schools really are hell holes.
Dear casting directors of the world. Thirty-year-olds do not pass as high school seniors.
I honestly think I liked this movie better the first time around when it was the Steven Spielberg produced TV series Invasion America. Or at least that Roswell show. Though Daniel/John/#4 just whipped a football into the stomach of a douche bag jock. So that’s something. Oh, and renegade blogger girl just took his picture. Skip to the end and have awkward sex already.
The evil beagle is back and Number Four’s alien puberty is acting up again. Too bad glowing hand alien stigmata has been done already see Earth: Final Conflict.
It’s not at all obvious that the screen writer for this movie was a writer on Smallville. I think I’ve heard Tom Welling whine about his powers in the same way that Number 4 just did.
Renegade bloggers use film SLRs because they are independent spirits who don’t subscribe to conventions…oh sorry, I just threw up a bit in my mouth. Now Number 4 is pining for Renegade Blogger’s suburban family.
I may not be an alien from another planet, but even when I was a teenager I avoided having dinner with a girl’s family for as long as I could. Honestly, we are forty minutes into this movie, can something please happen. Something other than an alien being maudlin?
Teenagers stalking other teenagers leads to paint bombs in lockers. How is it that the bad aliens haven’t put all of these magic space babies heads on pikes? Also, considering that teenagers have the attention spans of fickle cats, it amazes me that such a poorly paced script could actually get green lit.
So much iphone product placement.
Now Renegade Blogger Girl and #4 are talking about her troubled past as the former trophy wench of the high-school football captain. That talk spawned a haunted hay ride. Don’t mind that sound you’re hearing, it’s just my brain desperately trying to escape from this movie.
And more maudlin high school bullshit as a fake-out for the aliens coming after #4. Boba Fett would have had this kid encased in carbonite half an hour ago. Whatever plan these alien hunters are hatching better be good.
Turkey dinner smells good at least.
I wonder, are these aliens masquerading as humans? Or are they like Time Lords where it’s a budgetary convenience/mystery of the universe that they just happen to look human.
And #4 can use the force now. Isn’t that fun. Things have taken a turn for the predictable. #4 has fallen in love with Renegade Blogger. Of course their species mates for life and now, like Harry Kim in that one episode of Star Trek Voyager, he is sick with love for her.
Now that the stakes have been raised, after seventy painful minutes, #4’s protector has gone missing and he’s called upon the school dork, who he previously confessed his alien nature to, to be his wheelman for the rescue mission.
I should really watch Tron Legacy again after dinner. It’s going to seem like Shakespeare compared to this crap.
Oh for joy the evil aliens have finally made an appearance that didn’t feature them buying turkeys. Why Henry has brought a glowing dagger to what is clearly a plasma rifle fight is beyond me.
Every cliché in the book. This movie has thrown absolutely every cliché in the book at me: young hero with emergent powers, magic swords, dead mentor, unrequited love, manically laughing villains. What I wouldn’t give for something just the slightest bit original.
Oh and of course I just got the requiste teenage house party. The circle is now complete.
The alien hunter guys sound like Jabba the Hutt’s translator when they speak in their native alienese. They also look to be taking their fashion cues from Morpheus and the Necromongers from Chronicles of Riddick.
It’s also become obvious that the evil dog is not all that evil and likely that Blonde who blew up a house at the start of the movie.
Angry Blonde just showed up to save the day, she’s #6. No relation to another blonde #6 though. The evil dog is in fact a shape shifter but not #6 in disguise.
Now entering minute five of running, grunting, and pew pew-ing. Action sequences are thrilling.
Okay movie, you’re not good enough to show me a scene with a sad beat up beagle. It’s as if the director knew that nobody would be connecting with anybody in the story so he went for the hail mary play: injured animals = instant pathos.
Big bada boom and that’s the end of the conflict. Teenagers versus aliens in a high school stadium gunfight. We’re now into the post game infodump and Ducati product placement.
“Earth is as good a place as any in the universe” – Really? It must be a pretty awful universe.
And roll credits. What a stupid movie. I know I’m not in the target demographic, but, really, who is? This movie isn’t fit for people who have undergone a full frontal lobotomy. I would, however, hesitate to say that this movie is, as Mr. Janning suggested, a pile of number two. At least number two represents a useful biological process that after some treatment can be converted into fertilizer. Modern science would have a hard time transmuting this movie into anything other than a form of torture not covered under the Geneva Convention.
I give this I Am Number Four an overall score of -3.5.
With that, we come to the end of another Sunday Stinker live review. Thanks for following along with me. Enjoy your turkey day, I’m off to go eat until I fall asleep.