Primer (2004) Movie Review.
An original, mind-bending Science fiction movie I’ve seen in years.
Director: Shane Carruth. This is first written, acting, directing, and music composing for film. He has no prior experience in filmmaking.
Cast: Shane Carruth as Aaron, David Sullivan as Abe.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Mystery
Premise: Four friends Abe, Aaron, Robert, and Philip, works at a large company. In their free time, they spend time on a science project (electromagnetic reduction of objects involving gravity, superconductors, etc.) In Aaron’s garage. They call this machine as the Box. Mostly Aaron and Abe are involved in this invention, and they do most of the task. One day they accidentally discovered the Box they built, somehow used as a Time machine. They test it by placing the wristwatch in the Box, then the time-shifted to backward. Both Abe and Aaron are Curious about what it can do. And want to benefit from it by going to the past.
Review: Let me shock you by saying the budget of Primer is 7000 dollars (nearly equal to Mac pro or seven iPhone 10 phones). But this movie doesn’t look cheap, at least story-wise, and be appreciated for its originality.
(Mild spoilers- only in this paragraph)
The story primarily focuses on two scientists, Aaron and Abe. The first 15 minutes are a mixed bag for me. I really didn’t understand what they talk about and making. When they discover the Box is used as a time machine. Then it made sense of their conversation. The movie gets ladder when Abe builds a large box and travels back to 6 hours for the first time, then Abe and Aaron repeat the experiment multiple times in multiple days. To profit from it by stocks, lottery. Aaron does not just want to make money; he also wants to reshape a celebration event where he can become a local hero. Abe was totally against that idea. They mess things, and Abe realizes time travel is dangerous and wants to tidy the things they did.
The build-up plot twists never let down until the end. In the actual world, we don’t know entirely about time travel and its consequences, but we have some theories and rules based on science. Primer made, logical, and realistic as possible. Like when they want to travel to the past, first they spend six hours in a hotel room and not interfering with the outside world so that when going to the past, the original one will stay in a hotel room. They can go as far as one day, and they can’t travel before the Box switched on.
There is a limit when and how they can travel. These rules and limitations are amazingly tackled by logically, scientifically. This is why Primer script is fabulous. Primer also won Grand jury prize at the Sundance film festival. Primer doesn’t give all answers in the first viewing like the handwriting of Abe and Aaron, the narrator of the movie, etc. all make sense in a second viewing.
With these boundaries and consequences, we do care about what happens next in the story and to the characters. Considering Shane Carruth first time writing, the characterization of both Abe and Aaron is well handled, how the invention affects them individually, how they lost their principles to their creation, and how they blindsided want to control the situation. Performance of Shane Carruth, David Sulivanare, really good.
If you’re watching this movie for the artistic, perfect movie, you absolutely don’t like this one because the camera work basic, sometimes even out focus, with its 16 mm film camera, it looks grainier, continuity errors, lighting is odd, etc. But if you want out of the Box, a different experience in the Sci-fi genre, Primer doesn’t disappoint you. Primer didn’t try to please every kind of audience. With its puzzling plot structure, sometimes confusing, complicated, it’s not for everyone. But can be respected for its originality and its accomplishment in making this movie in the minuscule budget.
Cons: in some scenes, I didn’t find any propose of using complex, technical dialogue rather than a simple one; it didn’t add any weight to the scene. Mainly in the first 15 minutes, even in the second viewing.
Some incidents are not shown, kept open interpretation makes Primer a mysterious spectacular movie. But some of the unexplained incidents didn’t work; for example, we don’t know the motivation behind why Aaron was consumed to reshape the party event, where no harm was done and want to become a local hero. For that, he went such a significant length of challenges don’t know whether its director’s intention or lack of footage because of limited production.
Conclusion: It’s just too complicated for the average viewer and super flawed for an artistic movie. A thoughtful, captivating, grounded Sci-fiction movie made with only 7000 dollars. If you are looking for an original, puzzling film, out of box experience, Primer will satisfy you. And definitely, multiple viewings are required to understand—my rating 7/10.
Other Recommendations: Steins; Gate(26 episodes)
-Mind-blowing Masterpiece, the best take on time travel My rating 10/10
Back to the Future (1985)- A timeless classic family entertainment. My rating 9/10.
Other greatest movies Interstellar 9/10, Donnie Darko 8.5/10, 12 Monkeys 8/10, , Looper 8/10, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 8/10