Wednesday, March 14, 2012
On IN TIME and suspending disbelief
I watched In Time and it spurred a whole host of questions in my mind. This is definitely a movie where you have to check your brain at the door. But what is it about some movies that make that harder than others? The movies that are obviously not trying to be serious are easier. We can suspend our disbelief for our favorite comic superhero or super heroine. We just want to watch him or her fight bad guys with slick, fun-to-watch skills.
When it comes to science fiction, it's a little trickier. I think the first thing is that the premise has to be somewhat in the ballpark of feasible, right? Or is it just that even if it's too far out there, it has to have logical rules?
In In Time, time is a commodity. Everyone is born with (or inserted with at birth? - not quite clear) a subcutaneous clock on their arm. They have 26 years on the clock. They live for 25 and then the clock "starts." People exchange time on their clocks for services and goods. When their clock starts at 25, they stop aging. But if they don't earn more time to add to their clocks, they'll quickly use the year they start with long before that year is up.
At first glance, it's an interesting premise. It puts a whole new spin on “Time is Money.” It plays to our dual desire to live forever and never age.
In the In Time society, there are time zones - but not like we have today. These zones are to separate the classes. And apparently the powerful system that governs society can raise the cost of living in the zones of the lower classes at will, causing the clocks of those unfortunates to run out. The script suggests that many must die for a few to live forever. But how does the death of some poor soul increase the amount of "time" available to the rich? That’s never explained.
Transactions are conducted by grasping each others arms and magically, the correct amount is transferred sans device. And never is their a suggestion that anyone would take more, even though some are mugged or timed out by thugs or well-dressed, greedy people.
And if this can be done person-to-person and is all digital, what’s with the clunky cases that have a concave edge that fits over the arm to download or upload time? I suspect they’re a device to enhance the whole Bonnie and Clyde thing that the co-stars have going on. A bank robbery isn’t as exciting if you can’t take stuff out of a physical vault. And didn't I see this on the news in the 70s? Her name was Patty Hearst.
What's with the old-fashioned rotary (or perhaps push button) phones again? Is writer/director Andrew Niccol a Battlestar Galactica fan?
And puzzle me these…
If Will Salas (played by Justin Timberlake) and his mother (Olivia Wilde) are so short on time and in debt, where did she get all those fancy, new-looking clothes?
What society would stand by and put up with prices going up arbitrarily on everyday services without any advanced warning? They may be the powerless, lower classes, but they are still the masses! The rich are afraid of accidental death and the poor have nothing to lose.
What's with the women always running (and very well) in high heels? OK, this is just a personal pet peeve that spans all genres.
Wouldn't looking exactly the same all your long life be a little boring? I'm surprised they don't do things to alter their looks in other ways to break the monotony.
The flashing lights on the retro cop cars are too close to the edge of the windshield. That would distract the heck out of the driver. Just saying.
Speaking of the cars…what fuels them? Still using fossil fuels in this advanced medical-manipulation age?
That’s another thing. It seems like the time thing is the ONLY advancement. How likely is that?
The life clocks have to be part software - or wetware. Where are the hackers?
Was I just in a bad mood that night, unwilling to just park my brain and enjoy? Or was it the inconsistencies? I loved Logan’s Run (the 1976 movie based on a similar premise) and didn’t get bent out of shape over the mysterious tech. I can’t wait to see MIB III. I do know how to shut my brain down and enjoy. Why couldn’t I this time?
What makes it hard for you to suspend disbelief? What makes it easier? Let the discussion begin!