Sunday, November 1, 2015

Zombie Movie

Robert A. Heinlein is called the Dean of Science Fiction, but he is not well represented in the movies: 1950s drive-in fare Destination: Moon and parody/fiasco Starship Troopers. Now we have Predestination (2015), and it's done right.

I went in having read the source story "-All You Zombies-" so the whole thing was thoroughly spoilerated for me: It follows the source very closely. I think it might be a better experience if you've read the story, but I'm not going to spoilerize it in this post, except for two points:
  • This is a time-travel story. The opening scenes don't exactly make this clear. You might figure it out or you might just get confused. The movie doesn't really explain what's going on, and I'm a little dim, so I was glad to know this going in.
  • Like the original story, it is framed by a story a man is telling in a bar. Yes, the movie gets it: A guy walks into a bar is a lame way to start a joke. But the man's story starts "When I was young girl..." and it's off to the races.
 As I said, the movie matches the story in some funny ways. Since it was written in 1958, it has some pretty old-fashioned gender ideas, even though it's mostly set in the 60s and 70s. There are hints that this is an alternate timeline, anyway - a comment about spacers and their women. For a Heinlein fan, this is sweet and nostalgic - I don't know how a newcomer would see it.

I do think you can enjoy the movie without knowing any Heinlein. It has nice retro look and Ethan Hawke as the bartender and Sarah Snook as the Unwed Mother have nice parts. The wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff is handled well - beats Looper in my opinion. And at it's heart, it's a romance, although a pretty kinky one. If you've read much Heinlein, especially the later stuff, you know he had some pretty specific kinks, and this caters to a lot of them at once.

This is a low-medium budget Australian production - no big effects, little action. It was directed by the Spierig twins. This is only their third film, but it looks like they have some art/genre cred; heck, they got Ethan Hawke.

So, great Heinlein adaptation, maybe great movie. If there's anyone out there who hasn't read the story but has seen the movie, please let me know what the experience is like.

In conclusion, IMDB reminds me that they made a movie out of Puppetmasters, Heinlein's pod-people story. Guess I have to check that out too.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

As far as my experience with Heinlein goes, I read "Stranger in a Strange Land" and kind of liked it, kind of didn't, although I've retained a lot of its content over the years, an accomplishment considering the sheer number of books I've read and forgotten a week later. Sometimes in conversation I want to use the word "grok," but can't, knowing no one would understand it.