Needle in a Timestack review: A time-travel romance about messy men

“Why are men?” seems like a provocative question, but it’s an incredibly reasonable response to John Ridley’s sci-fi romance Needle in a TimestackIt is. Film introduces time travel to a different world but quickly rejects it. (Who cares?) Other people(You know?) Ridley instead offers a spiritual successor for stories such as The Time-Traveler’s Wife The TimeIn which time travel is used to enhance sentimental ideas regarding soulmates, monogamy or fate

Admittedly, that’s an appreciable change of pace from the doom and gloom usually associated with time-travel, as in the Terminator franchise, The Tomorrow WarOr 12 MonkeysIt is. However,Needle in a TimestackThis movie is lacking in the internal worldbuilding needed to convey its heartstring-tugging intentions. The result is a film that accidentally confirms just how bad it is for men to refuse to be left alone with women.

Robert Silverberg’s adaptation of an old short story (reprinted in this issue). The Time Traveler’s AlmanacAnn VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer edited this book. Needle in a TimestackRidley won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award. Twelve Years as a Slave. This is Ridley’s first foray into sci-fi after a career spent primarily in drama (Three Kings Ben-HurThe TV Series Anthology,. American Crime) and comedy (Martin Bel-Air: The New Prince Barbershop Series( Maybe that’s why the film lacks so many of the genre details that would make this world seem real.

It’s impossible to decipher how any of the time-travel works in Needle in a Timestack. Rich people can time-travel easily, but they’re not supposed to change the past, because time-cops will punish them. However, this isCompletely It’s a story of someone who is enviously trying to change the past without any consequences. If this is meant to be a commentary on the wealthy operating by different rules than everyone else, the film doesn’t make that clear — the lack of accountability feels more like a dropped plot point. But what’s even more detrimental to the film is the confusing way Ridley handles the effects of time-travel.

Nick is an architect who will soon be a part of the future.Hamilton Miami: One night Janine (photographer Janine) and Leslie Odom Jr.Bad Times at the El RoyaleCynthia Erivo (breakout star) and Nick are now happily married. “If I didn’t know you, would I still fall in love with you?” Nick wonders while watching Janine at a dinner party. It is clear that he thinks so. But Nick is also obsessively worried about Janine’s ex-husband, the wealthy Tommy (Orlando Bloom), who has used time-travel three times to try and change the past and get Janine back.

Whenever a “time shift” hits, imagined by Ridley as a wave-like whoosh of air that crashes over and through people, Nick is consumed with fear — and then anger when he learns that Janine has secretly met with Tommy since their divorce. He suspects that she’s hiding more from him. Meanwhile, Tommy enlists Nick’s ex Alex (Freida Pinto), to help him alter the course of all their lives. Once, these four were friends, but now they’re trying to reverse and unravel each other’s choices.

Cynthia Erivo as Janine and Leslie Odom Jr. as Nick have a nice, pre-time-crisis candlelit dinner together in Needle in a Timestack

Photo: Cate Cameron/Lionsgate

In some scenes, “time shifts” or “phases” create broad changes for everyone in the present, while in others, effects are only temporary, or only have an impact on one person. These differences are caused by what? This technology is controlled by who? Is it controlled? What is the best way for this future version of America to be able to access time travel but not have any clear ways to secure memories? Also, in the hazy future of sci-fi, malls are still possible. Is that really true?

Those questions might sound nitpicky, but they stand out because the film’s inconsistencies severely complicate the romantic relationships that are meant to be the story’s center. The four main characters are clearly Ridley’s primary narrative focus, and he bumps them against each other in varying ways to explore the suspicions, regrets, fantasies, and desires that go along with marriage.

Janine and Alex, however, are barely drawn-out enough to be considered equal weight. This is it. Needle in a TimestackIt becomes tedious and repetitive recounting the insecure struggles of two men over women. Cinematic sci-fi can and should be populated with smaller-scale, intimate stories to balance out the genre’s endless space-opera epics and dystopian blockbusters, but Needle in a TimestackThis is a hollow effort to meet personal emotional stakes in a sci-fi concept with high concepts.

After introducing these characters, Ridley swiftly cordons them off into varying pairs, so it falls on the actors to imbue his self-serious script with the emotional grit he’s so desperately attempting to achieve. Scene by scene, the results can be mixed. Problem is that the movie portrays Odom and Janine as different characters. As Nick, Odom is believably anguished and protective of his wife, but his clear lack of respect for Janine’s agency and choices isn’t the loving gesture the film suggests it is.

Cynthia as Janine and Orlando Bloom as Tommy  stand outside with their eyes closed and foreheads pressed together in Needle in a Timestack

Photo by Cate Cameron/Lionsgate

Bloom plays Tommy on a single smug register, and although he perfects the art of having a punchable face, he doesn’t pull off the wounded fragility Needle in a Timestack Later in the movie, he demands. Unfortunately, Nick and Tommy’s unresolved tension is never resolved in a timeline. Pinto and Erivo’s characters are flat and the movie pays little attention to the details. TheyWant. Alex is missing Nick. Why did Janine first fall for Tommy? Where are the details of these women’s lives? Pinto and Erivo, who are normally charming and charismatic, have lost any spark they might offer. Their position in this story is that of objects which can be traded between themselves men. Dialogue like “Every time we fall in love, we’re just stealing a person from someone else” makes this cringeworthy point particularly clear.

Needle in a Timestack It is repeated over and again that certain love can only be true, regardless of how the world operates. (More than one character solemnly intones the line, “Love is drawn in the form of a circle.”) Certainly one common trope of time-travel stories is that nothing anyone does in the past can ever completely change the present. But Ridley’s unwillingness to meaningfully grapple with that ideological stance, and his seeming inability to see that his male protagonists are actually exhausting, makes Needle in a TimestackIt is difficult to lose yourself in.

Needle in a TimestackIt will debut in limited theatrical release, and on digital and On Demand rentals starting October 15, along with a Bluray and DVD release Oct. 19.

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