Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Timescape


   After the horrible taste The Thirteenth Hour left in my mouth, I decided to scour the internet a little harder for good sci-fi movies I haven't seen before. I got my hands on a bunch, some look... fun, some probably suck, but when there's honestly not much you haven't seen or heard about, it's slim pickings as far as quality goes. Nevertheless, I stumbled across this movie, Timescape. I didn't read much about it, but between the catchy title, being directed by David Twohy (Pitch Black) and starring Jeff Daniels, it was first on my list to watch. It starts off kinda slow, yet... then again, I wasn't sure what to expect- but by the end I was incredibly impressed. Like, really impressed. And, shocked! How had I not heard of this movie? It's really damn good.

  I would love nothing more than to spill the beans about the story right now, and I guarantee you that the trailers and imdb page will give it away as well- but this is one movie that you should track down and watch without knowing too much about it. The mystery of what's going on in the movie kept me hooked and interested, even if it was only mild interest at first. I thought I had the movie pegged right out of the gate, but I was wrong! Such a refreshing change of pace from The Thirteenth Bore- which held no surprises for me. I'll say this much, Timescape is a science fiction movie. Not an action movie, or a comedy, or a thriller- it's just pure science fiction. Maybe if it has any other fitting genre descriptor, it'd be 'drama'. You don't see too many sci-fi dramas, do you?

  If you go in expecting a fast paced sci-fi adventure, you'll probably be disappointed. It's not like that. It's a character drama that revolves around a very unique and interesting science fiction concept. It takes it's time to reveal it's more fantastical elements, which is fine because Jeff Daniels turns in a great performance here as a widower, taking care of his daughter (Jurassic Park's Ariana Richards) and desperately trying to shut out some demons from his past. He carries the movies on his shoulders and does a fine job. Even if this wasn't a sci-fi movie, it'd still be a damn good drama- if not a smidge predictable. Yet it's the science fiction aspect which puts a whole new spin on the entire premise.

  The movie doesn't rely on flashy special effects, but instead makes use of well-written characters,  and a solid plot. This is a thinking man's sci-fi flick and it's a damn enjoyable one at that. During the first hour, it definitely felt like a character drama with vague fantasy elements, but once the pieces start clicking for Jeff Daniels' character- the story takes on a surprisingly dark and serious tone. I was very engaged throughout, but by that point I was on the edge of my seat. Of course, the movie employs some special effects, but they're fantastically done. They don't distract from the story and they feel very organic. There was a lot of effort put into this flick and I can't imagine why it hasn't gotten more of a vocal following over the years.

   Offhand, all the other movies I'd be eager to compare it to are much flightier and less brainy. Timescape was an exceptional treat, doubly so for an avid movie watcher who's been all too convinced he's seen most of the good stuff out there. With a solid cast turning in surprisingly good performances, and a hell of a story to boot- Timescape is one to seek out. If I say it's a 'must-see', you might go in with tainted expectations. It's just really good. It's not a forgotten masterpiece or anything, but it maintains a level of quality and intrigue that's all too rare to find these days. It does so much with so little that I'm still reeling from how good it was.

  This movie goes by an alternate title as well, but it's a massive spoiler in and of itself and I won't even say what the title is. But, I found a copy under this title easily enough so you shouldn't have a problem either. Do yourself a favor the next time you're in the mood for some science fiction and seek this one out. It's a low key character drama that becomes a very serious and urgent sci-fi flick. We need more genre-bending movies like this where sci-fi is an element of the movie- regardless of it's genre, and not just a guarantee of laser guns, flying cars and aliens. For sure, Timescape belongs on lists of hidden gems and good sci-fi movies you probably haven't seen, not buried in bargain bins with crappy cover art where nobody will ever be compelled to pick it up.

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