Sunday, February 13, 2005

SFC Original Movie: Slipstream—Jiggy, Zig-zaggy Time Travel

WASTE OF TIME [TRAVEL]
PROMO TAG: He's got 10 minutes to change the past, or his future is history.
Slipstream, an original film starring Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings' Samwise) and Vinnie Jones (Swordfish and Gone in Sixty Seconds), debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel last night. Despite my reservations. because original movies on commercial stations are usually overhyped, I bought into the tease of the trailers, and tuned in.

Besides, I was stuck yesterday afternoon and this morning with no computer access. By 6 PM yesterday, I was aching for some passive excitement from sofa-central.

Slipstream certainly gave me that. I was never emotionally or mentally engaged, but there was plenty of action. In fact, the chief method used to illustrate the future history, past disaster time manipulation of the plot seemed to be to replay conversations in a jumpy, deja vu montage, with the characters in radically different locations as they repeated their lines.

To jump back, the story involves an underfunded genius physicist, Stuart Conway (Astin), who either is now stealing or has in the past stolen some information from a government project. We never find out the sequence, but there are two FBI agents following him as he takes his paycheck to the bank.

Jump sideways now, because a van-load of bank robbers lead by Winston Briggs (Jones) is arriving at the same bank where Conway is ham-handedly trying to sweet-talk a pretty teller. She reacts as if she's being stalked, and throws a slurpee on young Stuart, just as his stolen Slipstream device (looking like a slightly-futuristic Compac iPAQ PDA) hits a functional 100%, and time slips backward just enough to let him begin again.

Of course, eventually the robbers enter the bank, shoot it out with the FBI, and Conway gets shot. When he asks the female agent (Ivana Milicevic, "Stacey" from Love Actually) to help him reset his time-twisting device, she realizes the implications. Plus, time twists back just enough to negate the advantage the agents had in the first second go-around, and her partner (a poorly-developed love interest) dies in the gunfire.

Okay, now jump forward to a plane coming in for a crash landing, Milicevic gets shot and so does the PDA with the Slipstream program. Jump back. Jump sideways. Do a little dance, make a little love...

Sorry. I just found the unrelenting back-and-forth unhelpful to the story, and very distracting. Contrast it with the elegant science fiction mystery involving time effects as told in Frequency. In this story, action in past and future take place synchonously; when a change is made in the past, its effects propagate forward into the future. Objects around the future observer morph from their previous into the new state as he watches. No jump-jump, no zig-zag. Just story.

In future, I will remember this past wasted hour and a half, and take along the Frequency DVD when we travel to computer-deficient boonies. And I've just got to quit paying attention to original made-for-TV movie promos!
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1 Comments:

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