I recently saw Predestination, a new Australian Sci-fi based on a short story by Heinlein.
It’s awesome – it’s the best time-travel movie in a good while. I watched it, and was then immediately compelled to watch it again – my brain wouldn’t stop, I needed to make sure that everything fit into place and that I hadn’t missed any obvious brokenness in my enthusiasm. And it was just as good on the second viewing – there are no glaring inconsistencies that I can see, and on the second viewing you pick up a lot of subtle stuff.
It started strong, and then got better. I was particularly impressed with the way it kept me thinking and guessing, and then thinking more and second-guessing my guesses – I found it constantly teasing my expectations of a time-travel movie called “predestination”, it’s like the filmmakers are daring you to name the tropes you think they’re going to use, so that they can avoid them or mess with your expectations of them.
In addition to being a fantastic science fiction film (and IMHO good, serious time-travel films are few and far between, so this is worthy of praise in its own right), I also found it to be a really compelling character drama with a lot of heart.
One other thing which I think deserves particular mention: I love that it’s not set in our universe. It’s set in the past on some alternate earth as envisioned by Heinlein in 1959. This is awesome, and really unusual – usually these types of golden-age story are contemporised – a terrible, terrible example of this being I, Robot. Eeew. It feels like they have constructed a world, even though it’s mostly the same as ours, and the differences are taken for granted in-world – e.g no heavy exposition on exactly what “space corp” does – tourism? mining? exploration? who knows, it’s not relevant. Awesome.
I think it’s probably the best time-travel film since 12 Monkeys. It’s not quite as good as 12 Monkeys, but then 12 Monkeys has Terry Gilliam’s style and amazing performances from both Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt – we’re talking big-league stuff here. And I’d put predestionation in the same league.
I’d love to hear suggestions for other great time-travel films for comparison. Here’s my “time travel movie showdown” table:
|12 Monkeys||12 Monkeys|
|The Butterfly effect||Predestination (by a slim margin)|
|Primer||Predestination (Again, by a slim margin)|
|Donnie Darko||Predestination (darko disqualified for being too ambiguous about whether it’s a time-travel movie or not)|
|The Time Machine (either version)||Predestination|
|Back To The Future||Tie (contenders refused to compete)|