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The Spierig Brothers
Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
Writing Credits:
The Spierig Brothers

The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 2/10/2015

• “All You Zombies: Bringing Predestination to Life” Documentary
• “A Journey Through Time” Featurette
• Bloopers
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Predestination [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 2, 2015)

In the same vein as efforts like Timecop, 2014’s Predestination offers a look at law enforcement in a society that enjoys time travel. Based on Robert Heinlein’s short story All You Zombies, Predestination takes us society in which “temporal agents” go through time to pursue criminals.

After failed attempts to stop a terrorist known as the “Fizzle Bomber”, one agent (Ethan Hawke) goes back to 1970 to continue his work. He takes a job in a saloon and gets known to us just as “The Barkeep”. We trace his efforts in this regard and the twists that come along the way.

If you read that synopsis – or view any of the movie’s trailers – you’ll probably expect a pretty slambang action flick. You won’t get it, as Predestination provides a substantially more introspective, non-linear experience.

Actually, an enormous amount of Predestination plays as flashback – and focuses on an unanticipated personality. All the movie’s synopses and promo materials concentrate on The Barkeep, whereas Jane/John/”The Unmarried Mother” (Sarah Snook) fills much of the movie’s first half, as we learn his/her story. An intelligent orphan who changes gender as an adult, “Mother” takes prominence in much of the story and lends it a much different flavor that I thought I’d get.

Indeed, the movie’s first half does little more than relate the backstory for “Mother”; it doesn’t go forward until it gets past the 50-minute mark. That’s when the tale moves ahead – and goes firmly off the rails.

I accept that paradoxes are nearly inevitable in time travel stories. Take The Terminator, for example, in which John Connor sends Kyle Reese back to protect his mother – and then Kyle fathers John while he’s there. This notion creates an obvious logic problem, but the movie entertains enough to let us go with the flow.

Take that paradox, multiply it by 1000 and you get Predestination. That’s why I like the film’s first half much more than its second, as the opening 50 minutes or so creates an intriguing world – with an emphasis on an alternate, more “sci-fi” 1960s – and draws us into it. We find ourselves involved in Jane’s unusual narrative and want to see where matters go from there.

Unfortunately, once Predestination leaves those flashbacks and moves ahead with its more conventional(ish) tale, it screams ahead into Rampant Paradox Land. I won’t reveal events, of course, as even hints would require spoilers. Let’s just say that the movie goes down a pretty nutty path that requires the viewer to accept a wild number of logic jumps.

I can’t do it, mainly because Predestination’s second half seems to offer almost nothing other than those insane paradoxes. Almost any attempts at real story-telling or character development evaporate, as we just find one crazy twist after another.

On the surface, those curveballs create some entertainment value, but I think they feel empty. I guess the filmmakers hope our attachment to the leads will make these twists meaningful, but instead, the opposite happens. Because Predestination requires so many leaps of faith, we lose touch with any sense of grounding it may have and ultimately don’t care about the participants.

That’s if we can get past the craziness of those twists. Inherent in Heinlein’s source, any adaptation of Zombies will come with the same issues. Obviously others can get past the lunacy of the paradoxes, but I can’t.

This leaves Predestination as part of a good movie. It creates a convincing mood and makes me interested in a further investigation of its alternate 1960s. Unfortunately, once it gets past that segment, it falls apart.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Predestination appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the transferred looked good.

Sharpness was fine. A little softness occurred in some wide shots, but those didn’t become a concern. Overall definition seemed solid. I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and the presentation lacked apparent edge haloes or other artifacts. I also saw no print flaws, as the movie always seemed clean.

In terms of colors, Predestination reflected Hollywood’s modern fascination with orange and teal. As tedious as that has become, the colors looked fine within the design parameters. In addition, blacks were dark and tight, while low-light shots were decent; some could be a bit dense, but they weren’t bad. This was a generally positive presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it added breadth to the experience. The movie didn’t deliver a rock-em-sock-em soundscape, but it managed to open up well. A few louder sequences – usually connected to action beats like car chases – made more dynamic use of the spectrum, but those didn’t pop up with great frequency. Instead, the emphasis on general environment remained, and that was fine. I felt the soundfield fit the material.

Audio quality always pleased. Speech remained natural and concise, with no edginess or other flaws. Music sounded full and dynamic, while effects came across as accurate and clear. All of this suited the film and earned a solid “B”.

When we shift to extras, the big attraction comes from a multi-part documentary. All You Zombies: Bringing Predestination to Life runs one hour, 16 minutes, 30 seconds and offers notes from writers/directors Michael and Peter Spierig, producers Paddy McDonald and Tim McGahan, director of photography Ben Nott, special makeup effects designer Steve Boyle, production designer Matthew Putland, special makeup effects supervisor Samantha Lyttle, costume designer Wendy Cork, film editor Matt Villa, and actors Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor and Ethan Hawke. “Time” looks at the source and its adaptation, story/character areas, cast and performances, pre-production and design choices, costumes and makeup effects, sets and locations, visual effects, editing, stunts and action, music and connected areas.

I’m always a little disappointed when a Blu-ray lacks a commentary, but “Zombies” does a lot to compensate. The documentary covers the movie’s creation in a concise, organized manner that takes us through the production in a positive manner. We get a good feel for the flick’s creation in this strong program.

A Journey Through Time goes for four minutes, 33 seconds, and includes notes from Hawke, Peter and Michael Spierig, Taylor, and Snook. We get basic story/character notes and some production elements. This is a quick overview and not especially interesting, especially after the thorough “Zombies”.

Finally, Bloopers lasts one minute, 37 seconds. It shows the usual mix of goofs and silliness. It doesn’t do much for me.

The disc opens with ads for Home Sweet Hell, Third Person, The Intruders, The Remaining, No Good Deed and Fury. No trailer for Predestination appears here.

More than most time travel movies, Predestination falters due to its rampant array of paradoxes. I can swallow some of these, but this film goes too far, and those insane twists drag down a promising tale. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio along with an informative documentary. If you have a high tolerance for leaps of logic, you’ll like Predestination more than I did.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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