Also on the docket yesterday was Predestination, a time travelling pseudo-intellectual drama starring Ethan Hawke. It’s based on a Robert Heinlein short story (and it shows – the movie felt a little dated) with a premise that sounds a lot like Minority Report but ends up being closer to Groundhog Day. To say a whole lot more than that about the plot would be to give it away, as it’s a very predictable film. Ethan Hawke and both Michael and Peter Spierig were on hand for the screening, as this was the world premier, along with what appeared to be a rather large contingent of crew.
The screening seemed to be fairly well received by the audience, although several of the people I spoke with shared some of my concerns about the movie. Like I said, it felt dated, with a whole lot of mid-century sci-fi ideas that, as they stand now in 2014, have already been iterated upon. There just wasn’t much originality, either in the design of what was being presented or in the filmmaking itself. Especially through the first half of the movie, I don’t remember a single shot that looked original. Familiar angles, familiar motion, familiar framing. It doesn’t help that the entire first half is basically an exposition dump. It pulls the character-telling-his-or-her-story-as-voiceover thing while we see the younger version of the same character act it out, but that doesn’t prove interesting enough when every line of dialogue sounds (again) exactly like something we’ve heard before so many times that it’s become expected and trite. This has turned into something of a mini-review, so I’ll wrap up with this: Predestination is a thriller that fails to surprise, and that is why a middlingly pretty, relatively well acted movie feels like the definition of Deadly Cinema.
Ah, but what is Deadly Cinema? you ask. For a fuller answer on that, go read Peter Brook’s The Empty Space (you can read it here), specifically the first chapter, where he talks about Deadly Theater. I’m going to lose a lot of the nuance, but the basic idea is that there are some plays, or movies, which in essence rehearse old ideas without adding anything of aesthetic consequence, nothing which enriches, challenges, or improves the viewer for having encountered it. Basically, it’s something stale. That’s what this movie was to me. Not objectively bad in any one element (though as I said, some elements were definitely better than others), but adding up to nothing much of importance.
Disagree? Let’s talk about it! Predestination doesn’t yet have a firm release date, but it’s due out sometime this year.