Hi there. Back from Australia/New Zealand. Pictures on the weekend and travelogue next week.
Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of post apocalyptic movies. Grim storylines all shot in and around the nearly deserted Los Angeles River. There are abandoned freeway bridges, streets from THE SHIELD, people in the future all seem to drive black 1967 Lincoln Continentals (gas prices must be $10 a gallon in the future), and these films are forever shot through blue filters to help create a starker, bleaker, feel. It’s important that everyone look they spent their entire lives working at the Pep Boys.
Most of these pictures center around the poor downtrodden who seem to have two key problems – they live in man-made squalor and there’s some created all-powerful authority figure keeping them in their place. The baddies are always in black, always brutal, and it would take a collection of thinkers the caliber of the Manhattan Project to decipher the backstory of how these new police goons replaced Westinghouse Security.
Oh.. and throw in some robots, a love story set against the ashes, and what you have in 2012 for $70,000,000 is what Roger Corman used to make in 1965 for $700, although Corman did them better.
Everything must be metaphorical – a cautionary commentary. Sure, go ahead. Use that aerosol can of Aqua-Net. But in two years your life will become THE BLADE RUNNER.
Many of these stories come from the late Philip K. Dick, who wrote imaginative pulp tales of futuristic doomsdays. He wasn’t highly regarded in his time (although he should have been), but now his laundry lists are being adapted for big budget starring vehicles for Clive Owens once Daniel Craig passes.
I tend to skip them. Don’t want to see people in Jetsons’ time dressed like Flintstones’ time battling plagues, Big Brother, and forced to huddle together en masse in a burned out shell that once was the Disney Center.
However, yesterday on my endless flight from Sydney on my VOD pod I sat through IN TIME. I had seen most everything else that was available. I watched THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN first, and had exited ANNONYMOUS about a half an hour in. What the fuck was that?!
IN TIME starred Justin Timberlake, who I quite like, and the love interest in these films must always be a waif red head with pale skin almost as blue as her eyes. Amanda Seyfried was fine.
Here’s the premise: When humans turn 25 the rest of the lives are determined by a preset timer that appears on your inner arm. Time becomes currency. You can add time by working, stealing it from others, and…. I dunno. You just can.
And you siphon it out with every purchase. A coffee is 4 minutes, entrance to a nicer neighborhood is a month, watching a Nancy Meyers movie – two years for every showing (okay, that’s true in real life too).
But the good news is you will forever look the way you do at 25 (good news if you’re Amanda Seyfried; bad news if you’re Rosie O’Donnell) and if you’re rich you can seemingly live forever.
So it’s sort of an intriguing premise. And having hot Olivia Wilde play Justin Timberlake’s mother was kind of fun. Coo coo cachoo Mrs. Robinson. The first fifteen minutes set up this world, and you still find yourself asking one or two little questions, like: How did any of this happen? How did our DNA change to accommodate this new system? And how is time stored and transferred? And since it happens to us automatically, are we saying for sure there’s a God or some higher being? And who sets the prices? And if you know you’re going to live until your 80s is it okay to now smoke? And considering how long it takes, would you ever eat a whole lobster in the shell?
But put aside those nagging questions because there are so many more pressing questions to come. What this movie quickly becomes is a rogue hero and his babe running from the authorities, challenging conventions, thwarting villains, saving the world, and crashing as many cars as the LA. River will allow.
At this point the film goes completely off the rails. There are chase scenes, robberies, vendettas, story turns from Mars, and you just stop caring. I’d say this comes a half hour into the film. From then on beware because YOU are squandering precious time sitting through this utter mess.
Post-apocalyptic movies have an obligation to create their own worlds. They set rules and the characters must live within them. The premise can be clever, the rules fun, and the journey of the characters as they navigate this world exciting and satisfying. (I loved ROAD WARRIOR but now wish Mel Gibson had been killed) But the rules have to be clear. They have to make sense. The audience needs to follow them. The audience needs understand the stakes. In short, the audience has to be willing to go along for the ride.
A better premise for IN TIME is this: A world where filmmakers make all the wrong decisions. It’s a cataclysmic world of confusion and ugly cinematography. Can Pete from MAD MEN and Neil from WHITE COLLAR ever get movie roles again? How does time figure into all of this? Trust me, ten minutes in you’re looking at your watch.