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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/10/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/9/2015
It stands to reason that most sub-genres (except for the really weird one), have a loyal following of fans. For example, the continued appearance of time travel movies implies that someone out there likes them. However, there are probably just as many who don't. Why? Because it seems that with every passing year, the ante is upped to make time travel movies more and more convoluted and confusing. The number of paradoxes and characters running into their future or past selves or people doing things in the past which alter the future continue to grow and the movies seem to be trying to alienate and confuse fans. Well, if you are in that group that is sick of confusing time travel movies, you can rest easy, as Predestination certainly wins the award for the loopiest and trickiest example of this type of film and it should shut down the sub-genre forever.
As Predestination opens, we witness a man (Ethan Hawke), who has been recovering in a hospital, prepare himself of a mission. He is a Temporal Agent, a law enforcement official who can travel through time, and he's determine to apprehend a terrorist known as the "Fizzle Bomber". We next see the man working as a bartender. He strikes up a conversation with a customer (Sarah Snook), who begins to tell the bartender his story. The man bets the bartender that it's the best life story that he's ever heard. The bartender accepts this wager and begins to listen to this shocking tale, which opens with the fact that the man hasn't always been a man. From there, the story touches on romance, betrayal, space travel, true confession stories, and a thirst for vengeance.
Predestination is one of those movies where if I were to explain the basic plot to you, including the big twists (for which I may need a white board like the one in The Ringer), you would most likely find it very impressive and intriguing. And there's no doubt that the story's incredible ending contains one of the most creative and mind-bending twists in science-fiction. The film comes from the short-story "All You Zombies" by Robert A. Heinlein, and it shows why he's considered one of the fathers of science fiction. We've seen time travel movies before, but this one takes the cake for creating a never-ending time loop. As the story was published in 1959, it's very easy to assume that it's been a big influence on all of the other science fiction films which we've seen since then (and one song by The Hooters).
The problem with Predestination is that once the tale moves out of the short story realm and into feature film length, it loses something. Again, an overview of the plot would certainly pique your interest. However, that would leave out the fact that the bulk of the movie is made up of the customer telling his story to the bartender. Writers/Directors The Spierig Brothers don't just show us the conversation, they cut back and forth between the bar and the events from the man's life, but still, we simply sit and watch as this man goes on and on about his life. Some of it is interesting (most notably the part about training women to be space companions), but most of it is dry and admittedly depressing. We are forced to hope that he somehow gets to the present (or, what passes for the present in this film) so that the plot can keep moving.
So, like so many time-travel movies, Predestination is confusing (but in a good way), but it's also confounding. This is a film that will get high marks from some viewers, as they will walk away remembering the bombastic ending. This means that they may forget how a lot of the first and second act dragged. I rarely recommend "party" movies, but this would be a good movie to see with a group of people. First of all, a group could aid with breaking up the monotony of the bar conversations second, but most importantly, it would enable you to discuss the twists and turns as a group. ("Wait a minute, that dude was who?") One thing's for sure, kudos to Predestination for being hardcore science fiction while barely showing any gadgets or futuristic settings. This one's a thinker, which is great, but it could have thought about picking up the pace.
Predestination implies that violin cases are inconspicuous on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. This movie leans towards the dark end of the spectrum, but the colors are not washed out and the image is never overly dark. The level of detail is very good, as we can see every line in the actor's faces and the depth works well, most notably in the park bench scene. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 25 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a nicely balanced track, as it goes back and forth between the fairly quiet talking scenes and those which contain the "woomph!" of the time travel device. Stereo effects are very noticeable and the surround effects show good detail.
The Predestination Blu-ray Disc contains only three extra features. "A Journey Through Time" (5 minutes) provides an overview of the story and its themes as told through comments from the filmmakers and the cast. As we hear them talking, we are treated to a reel of on-set footage showing rehearsals and set construction. "All You Zombies: Bringing Predestination to Life" (77 minutes) is a 12-part documentary which gives a detailed overview of the making of the film, including a comprehensive look at each of the six weeks of shooting. The piece also examines the casting process and post-production. It is stuffed with interviews with the actors and the creative team, as well as a ton of behind-the-scenes footage. The final extra is a 2-minute reel of BLOOPERS.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long