2004 / DVD

SF elements: time travel

dvd cover

A group of engineer friends are building some hi-tech gadget-in-a-box in their garage. The story takes a while to really get going, but once the inventors realise their box allows time travel, things take off. Initially, they ensure that, when their past and present selves (which are confusingly call "copies") are around simultaneously, one stays out of the causal realm, to make sure things aren't changed. But eventually they make mistakes, and start to have causal effects on each other. Finally, they are making enough changes to their pasts that the timeline fragments.

If you think Back to the Future or Inception have complicated plots, this isn't for you.

Primer timeline, according to XKCD

But if you're happy with SFnal time travel, this is just a "machine can take you back in time to the point the machine was switched on" and "you can alter the timeline" plot, with multiple travel loops. Some of the consequences of the time travel are well thought through, such as that longer journeys back take more subjective time (travelling back n hours takes n subjective hours, all of which are constrained to the small coffin-like box). There's lots of naturalistic talking over each other, mumbling, and technical jargon, giving a realistic feel. The most interesting thing about the film is the fact it was made for just $7000 (plus a lot of free effort donated by friends).

To me, the biggest mystery is why people who find themselves in this kind of situation never seem to have read any science fiction. Here we have contemporary engineering geeks who can accidentally build a time machine and figure out that's what it is, but in order to decide how to exploit it, they're starting from scratch. To have such geeks totally ignorant of the copious extant literature on the subject (to which this, of course, now contributes) is a tad unbelievable.

Rating: 3.5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 12 May 2012