Release Date: January 9, 2015
Based On: All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, 1959
Director: The Spierig brothers
I want to preface this feature by saying that regardless of what I say about the potential success or non-success of this particular film, I’m so fracking glad it’s being made.
Description: A paradoxical time travel sci-fi trip. I can say no more without spoiling the whole thing.
Um:If you take some time to read reviews of the short story online (titled All You Zombies), you’ll find a vocal contingent that is very upset that this Heinlein short includes no zombies whatsoever. Apparently, zombie enthusiasts are a passionate and judgmental people. For this reason, it was wise of the Spierig brothers, who directed this adaptation, to choose a title for the film that made no mention of zombies, and thus avoid the ire of disappointed zombie fans. They also got Ethan Hawke on board, which should work in their favor. They’re also relatively new on the scene, and so viewers will enter the theater with no preformed expectations, which I think is the only way one should read this story, or view its film adaptation (which is also why I’m being so vague about the details; you just have to read/see it).
Uh: Since I read the short story, I’ve been harassing, haranguing, badgering, and otherwise annoying people in an [apparently vain] attempt to find someone with whom to share my reaction. Because the story is so bizarre, twisted, and fast-paced that when it’s over your initial reaction is “Wha..?” followed by “Wait… Wha?” If you do anything this winter, read the short story, and then tweet at me about it, because I’ve had literally nobody to discuss it with. But back to my analysis…
At first, after I had just finished reading, I was astonished anyone would even consider making this story into a movie. What demented person would set themselves such a monstrous challenge? Upon further reflection, however, I’ve concluded that it’s a brilliant idea. If I were making this movie, I’d hardly care if it were successful or not. The sheer fun of putting such a story on the screen would be enough, such that I’m intensely curious to see what these young directors make of it. The single pitfall I see, the only way they could really screw this up, is if they try to sanitize it, and thus ruin the carefully thought out paradox, or otherwise neuter the sense of bewilderment that the viewer ought to experience as they watch the film.
Ah: Because of the relative obscurity of the story and the disappointing lack of zombies, I predict that this film won’t do well at all at the box office, although critics have so far given it generally positive reviews. However, there simply aren’t enough people willing to go see something that will undoubtedly unsettle them (and not in the most fun way), without much sex or violence or comedy. I also doubt that theaters in middle America will bother showing the movie at all–tragic, since that means I probably won’t be able to see it for a while unless I’m willing to drive to DC (true story: I’m not). Still, I sincerely hope that the Spierig brothers preserve that unsettling aspect of the story, and leave audiences sitting in stunned silence as the credits roll, as I did after turning the last (figurative) page.
WIMAGF?: If it sticks to the story, it’ll be a mind-bender. It could be the next Memento, but less confusing. I’m not sure if that means it’s good or not, but I don’t really care – I’ve got to see how they handle this one.
Featured Image: Sony