JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

Predestination

My two favorite science fictions authors when I was a teenager were Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. Actually I think they still are.

Anyway, one of my favorite short stories by Heinlein was “—All You Zombies—”, which despite the title has absolutely nothing to do with zombies. It was perhaps ten pages long and packed a lot of story into that short space. I don’t think I ever imagined it would be filmed, or if it ever was converted into a movie, surely Hollywood would totally mess it up.

Happy to report that I was wrong. I just watched the 2013 movie Predestination, and it’s about as faithful a rendering of Heinlein’s story as is possible to do. So faithful that it uses many bits of Heinlein’s dialog (which I still recall even though it’s been years since I last read the story), and even includes a jukebox song that Heinlein references during a key scene. Of course, it's not really a product of Hollywood, having been made in Australia.

Clearly it had to expand on the story a bit to fill out its 90 minutes, and that’s the source of both its greatest strength and its one weakness.

Its strength is that it humanizes Heinlein’s major characters by expanding on their motivations and letting their emotions show through. The initial meeting of two of the characters, which occurs more than halfway through, was a very moving moment. Sadly, by adding one additional plot thread, the movie also loses a bit of the tightly controlled logic of Heinlein’s original; but since the movie does so many other things right, I can’t get too upset about that.

Its a time travel story, and that's all I'm going to say about the plot; if you plan to see it, I recommend not reading anything else about it.

Currently its only available on disc and pay per view, but I do recommend it highly.