Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fire Burns. Water Flows. Ellison Sues.

Folks in my circle who fancy themselves fans of serious science-fiction movies are seriously excited for Andrew Niccol's "In Time;" set in a world where they've cured aging. To keep overpopulation from being an issue, nobody physically ages past 25... but all hearts are on a "timer" and "minutes left to live" is now the sole form of currency - rich people get to be immortals, poor people live day-by-day. Justin Timberlake is the hero, a working-class schlub who winds up with a suicidal rich guy's massive time-surplus and ingratiates himself into wealthy-immortal society, ultimately becoming a Robin Hood-esque figure stealing time and giving it to the poor. I like this concept because it's the best kind of "idea scifi," using a "what if?" hook as a metaphor for something relevant to the real present (in this case, social-economics.) Hollywood, on the other hand, no doubt likes this concept because it provides a story-driven excuse to cast every single role with model-gorgeous twenty-somethings (Olivia Wilde and Amanda Seyfried co-star, so... there ya go.)

Now, as if the incidental tea-leaves weren't already looking good for this one, the film has now crossed into a potential-scifi-blockbuster rite of passage: Being sued for copyright infringement by Harlan Ellison.




Ellison believes that the film shares enough similarities with his 1965 short story "Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman;" and is suing to block the film's release and for compensatory damages. This sort of thing happens a lot in genre film - typically it's quietly "taken care of" by a settlement to avoid bad press. Ellison, however, prefers to go big with this stuff - famously, he sued "The Terminator" for similarities to two of his "Outer Limits" episodes.

FWIW, "Repent" is prescient less of this film and more of "V For Vendetta" - the main character dresses like a clown and commits acts of vigilante nuisance in order to disrupt a dystopian society where timely schedule-keeping is federally-enforced and punishable by lowering life-expectancy.

11 comments:

The Offender said...

This could be alright. I doubt it, but it could be.

kevmon1116 said...

Okay, this just jumped to the top of my must-see list this year.

Joshua the Anarchist said...

I've been excited for this one for a while, far enough back to know it was originally titled "Im.mortal". I'm a big Andrew Niccol fan, and this is his first sci-fi film since S1m0ne...let's just hope it's a hell of a lot better than THAT film was. I doubt it'll top Gattaca, but fingers crossed.

jojjo said...

Could be a lot of fun. Could also be heavy handed, pretentious and stupid. If we're lucky it's the generic version of District 9, if we're unlucky it's Avatar without the visuals.

David (The Pants) said...

This trailer is WAAY better than the one I remember seeing a while ago (At Cowboys And Aliens, I think?) because there is the plot shown as well as the concept. I'm excited.

Sylocat said...

Ellison sues, and Orson Scott Card writes thinly veiled Chick tracts...

Dave said...

Hate to be the vocab nazi, but "prescience" means the foreknowledge of events and/or actions before they occur (i.e. precognition). Seems Bob was looking for a different word there.

Normally I wouldn't bitch about these sorts of things, but come on...... look at that whole last paragraph of his, filled with loads of big words. I know what they all mean, and I have nothing against one's use of SAT vocabulary words. I mean, Christ, I use the words "minutia" and "infinitesimal" in day-to-day conversation.

What I am against is when people just toss in loads of big words into a sentence like it's a salad, to make themselves seem as though they're much smarter or intellectually-enlightened than they really are. The author comes across as pompous and silly rather than smart when read by someone who actually has a better grasp of the English language via an intensive college education.

For those of you who lack the attention span to read through my own verbiage - or those of you who just want a laugh after watching three seconds of footage - watch this to get the gist of my point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_mDTLphIVY

Baconchest said...

Really Dave other than dystopian are any of the other words in that paragraph even that complicated? I wouldn't consider myself pompous and I talk like that all the time....you are right in your correction though, the usage of prescient was a little off.

Back on topic: Loving the look of this, especially since Timberlake has been in such good form recently.

Joe said...

This also reminds me of a West German sci-fi film from the 80s, Morgengrauen (with the nonsensical English title "Time Troopers"). In that post-apocalyptic dystopian society, your lifespan was your currency so those with lavish lifestyles were "retired" earlier while those who lived frugally lived much longer.

I usually cringe at "idea" sci-fi films, because for the last 10-20 years they've almost always been done poorly. Most are just old hat "new technology is bad" stories, and most don't take their premise to its logical extremes. Surrogates was really bad for that. And I take it this happens because the "idea" also has to frame a thriller, mystery or action movie. Sometimes these parts are good in and of themselves: I didn't care for the execution of the big idea in The Adjustment Bureau, but the acting was great and refreshingly, it was a story with no real villains. But more often you'll get something like Limitless or Vanilla Sky, which pretend to have something deep to say but are really stories about nothing with unsympathetic characters.

Kyle said...

Timberlake? Seyfried? Yeah, I'm in.

Phildog said...

I love the idea for this movie because it basically is an allegory for socialism and "spreading the wealth". How it shows that extreme wealth requires extreme poverty, and the rich do not understand, as a by-product, do not care about the lives their greed and status destroys and oppresses.

This is going to be so awesome.