If you are a devotee of time travel...

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Needle in a Timestack: Find It

For some reason, I just saw something about Needle In A Timestack earlier this evening.  It's been streaming on something called Amazon Instant Video -- apparently since the end of this past October -- and it costs 99 cents to see.  It will be on Amazon Prime Video, presumably for free, on January 28.  Now, ordinarily I'd wait the two weeks and see it on Prime Video.  Readers of my reviews will know I'm a cheapskate.  But, by my reckoning, not only does time wait for no one, neither does time travel, or at least time travel narratives should not be obliged to wait. That, and the fact that the movie is based on a story by Robert Silverberg (which I haven't read), a great writer whom I not only admire but know fairly well, tipped the balance.

And I'm glad it did.  Needle in a Timestack is a thoughtful, high intellect movie, very much in the Philip K. Dick tradition.  Time can not only be traveled through via "jaunting" (a term made famous by Alfred Bester for teleportation in The Stars My Destination back in the 1950s), but at least one person can cause "phases" in time that can change everything in big or small ways, depending upon who gets caught up in the phasing.

Into this set-up we find Nick (superbly played by Leslie Odom, Jr.) in a less than totally happy marriage, with no kids and a cat rather than the dog he feels he'd like to have as a pet.  Part of his problem is he's pretty sure his wife Janine (well played by Cynthia Erivo) is still in love with her first husband and Nick's old friend Tommy (Orlando Bloom, always good to see).  I'm going to abstain from spoilers here, so the only thing more I'll say about the plot is Nick via shifting and jaunting goes through a variety of realities until ... [see the movie].

I will say, though, that I always have the greatest respect for time travel stories that stick to the logic and necessities of the presented structure of time and time travel.  Needle in a Timestack does that quite well.  For example, if someone is caught up in a "phase" shift, there's no reason that phasee will recall elements of the first timeline not present in the second.  Further, an organization that purports to be able to save memories via photos and videos from one timeline to another is bound to be not very effective, if not an outright fraud.

Another appealing aspect of this movie is the way it portrays a slightly into the future time.  These backgrounds provide a nice physical context for what is also a superior love story.  Given time, I'll predict that Needle in a Timestack (directed by John Ridley) will take its place along with Time Traveler's Wife as a very memorable time travel romance -- in this "phase," or any other.


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