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Overall Rating
3.63

Awesome41.41%
Worth A Look: 14.14%
Just Average: 17.17%
Pretty Crappy: 20.2%
Sucks: 7.07%

6 reviews, 63 user ratings


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Primer
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by Jay Seaver

"Art-house sci-fi."
4 stars

SEEN AT THE 2004 BOSTON FILM FESTIVAL: Usually, I'm annoyed by comments that you need to watch a movie more than once to really get it. There are other movies to see, and if it's only playing one night of a film festival, well... Still, there's irony to using that claim to describe Primer as it moves from geek infighting to the science-fictional.

It's low-budget science fiction, without anything in the way of special effects, but compensates by paying a little more attention to science and story. As the movie opens, Aaron and Abe are sharing a garage lab with two other techies, trying to supplant their income by making tools for hackers and trying to build the revolutionary, patentable technology that will free them from their boring, unrewarding jobs. Writer/director/star Shane Carruth has a math and science background, and the tech-speak is authentic. Rest assured, though, that when the breakthrough finally comes, it is explained in meticulous detail.

This lends a certain reality to the procedings. Most movies that screw with spacetime use a certain amount of handwaving; the detail Carruth supplies puts clear limits on what the magic tech can do. Also, the characters' less than ambitious use of their new invention fits the characterization; they're too paranoid to use their newfound power to try and rule the world!

You've got to like your sci-fi a lot to get into this, though. No flashy visual effects, lots of jargon, spoken by first-time actors. The film itself is shot an Super-16 and blown up to 35mm, and mostly looks OK, although some scenes (especially night scenes) are extremely grainy. In a couple places it's probably deliberate, but it's often distracting. In his after-film Q&A, Carruth gave the usual responses about how it's the conflict of the characters that's really important, and he does pretty well there. The characters don't change all that much, but they've got a good, creepy paranoia to work with.

This is very much a niche film, and art-house sci-fi is a pretty small niche. If it's one you're into, then Primer has something to offer.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8535&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/13/04 01:05:28
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/25/14 Leo Brim There are answers, you just need to dig deep 5 stars
12/28/13 Marty Never felt dumber in a movie but respect its originality 3 stars
8/08/13 Langano Wow, this movie really sucks. 1 stars
6/17/13 Mark M Good premise but let down by boring execution with unlikable characters. 2 stars
1/22/13 Mike Best (real) time travel movie ever. You'll watch it twice just to figure it out. 5 stars
5/19/11 Mr. Laag Very good, except that It demands at least a second view to fully understand it 4 stars
4/02/11 Vashek Vylet Good idea, but result is sloppy and dull 1 stars
1/18/11 sammyg mind blowing what an amazing film plus when did not understanding afilm mean its bad ? 5 stars
8/21/10 Peepers Sparing, austere, compelling tragedy. Worth repeated viewings. Stellar achievement. 5 stars
8/02/10 mendota "Parts from Wal-Mart," seriously? Mr. McKay was clearly in over his head with Primer. 5 stars
12/06/09 matt completely impenetrable, like wading through a labyrith of molasses in the dark 2 stars
4/07/09 Baloney Better than Timecrimes 5 stars
8/21/08 PAUL SHORTT A SMART, CLEVER TIME-TRAVEL GAME PLAYED ON AUDIENCES AND WITH THEM 4 stars
1/03/08 The Dude What was that all about. I don't really know, but I liked it!! 5 stars
6/05/07 consultation diet pills prescription without diets pill 3 stars
1/24/07 K. Sear The best time travel movie ever. It makes absolutely no concessions to the viewer. 5 stars
11/15/06 William Goss Ow. But a good ow. 4 stars
10/13/06 Oscar Sharp Fascinating movie, especially from a post-heideggerian perspective 4 stars
9/18/06 Mark Keogh Brilliant. A thinking persons film at long last. A movie that bears dozens of viewings 5 stars
9/12/06 Bitchflaps A masterpiece of shoestring budget film-making. Mesmerising! 5 stars
6/05/06 Dean Started off well, but I'd lost the plot by the end 3 stars
5/13/06 jeromebosch garbage 1 stars
12/19/05 patt Just Great 5 stars
11/17/05 Steven Haunschild Brilliant achievement. If you don't have praise for Primer, you don't understand it. 5 stars
10/08/05 justin pynchon+PKD on film; forces you to pay attention; mulholland dr was simple compared to this 5 stars
9/18/05 SY Very good for the director's first feature. Don't be put off if you don't understand. 4 stars
8/25/05 D Buckley This movie is not very good. 3 stars
8/19/05 Terri Sullivan reminded me of Nightingale in a Music Box 5 stars
8/18/05 ALDO hey, it's brilliant, because you don't get it, right? Wrong, but better than Garden State 3 stars
8/12/05 Lily What the hell happened? Attractive lead though. 2 stars
6/25/05 Indrid Cold Brilliant, fascinating, baffling. I didn't know they still made scifi like that. 5 stars
6/16/05 K. E. all over the place 2 stars
5/22/05 y2mckay Pretentious wankfest full of laughable technobabble and sloppy storytelling 2 stars
5/21/05 Cham Looked interesting, but it's utterly pointless, boring, and without any social value. 1 stars
10/31/04 jean-carotte Primer might be the most pretentious and stupid movie ever made. 1 stars
10/05/04 RW I need to see the last 5 minutes again (is this a marketing device to sell more tickets?) 4 stars
9/24/04 durden i got most of it... errr... some of it....i think i need to see 3 or 4 more times 5 stars
9/19/04 denny very enjoyable; needed subtitles to catch all the dialogue; must be seen again 4 stars
6/14/04 Stob this movie was the best independant movie I have ever seen 5 stars
6/05/04 van bullock wow! This was on the genius level 5 stars
6/01/04 Mellifluy It made think, what the *#@!? and then I walked out. 2 stars
4/12/04 Christian Abbott Is the absolute best time travel film I've ever seen. VERY original & thought-provoking 5 stars
3/29/04 bmo brilliant and whole heartedly original 5 stars
3/29/04 Megan Made NO sense to me, but I understand why it won the award (b/c it was made for so little) 2 stars
2/08/04 PIKE David Sullivan is the next Brad Pitt !! 5 stars
2/05/04 Kris M. I was confused from the start and the characters were not engaging. YUCK. 2 stars
2/05/04 ann I can't believe this won the jury award for Sundance. 1 stars
2/01/04 bill sullivan great. 5 stars
1/29/04 Angela Hehner Wow! Can't wait till it's theatre arrival 5 stars
1/28/04 Josef Wells Great Movie. If you have the brains to follow it, you will love it. 5 stars
1/28/04 Rod Barnes An excellent movie... it makes you pay attention the entire time. 5 stars
1/27/04 Matt Smith Great Movie!!! 5 stars
1/27/04 Nancy Dredcoe A $7000 film competes with multi-million dollar films. Says it all. 5 stars
1/26/04 Jon Casey I have much respect for Mr. Carruth. this is the first fim he's EVER made, with little $$ 5 stars
1/26/04 Bob Maplethorpe Absolutely brilliant! 5 stars
1/26/04 Billy Chowder I can't wait to see this Directors' next movie. Amazing 5 stars
1/26/04 Trevor Can't believe this won best film at Sundance 1 stars
1/25/04 John Beakley I thought the movie was very well done and the story line hid the ending well 5 stars
1/25/04 Joe Horn It won Sundance BITCH! 5 stars
1/23/04 David Joyner An excellent story ... don't be misled by the reviewer's narrow minded idea of a good story 5 stars
1/22/04 Neal Dutton Loved it -- from a non geeks perspective -- acting and actors very natural 5 stars
1/21/04 brent kinder I thought it worked, considering what Shane was working with. 4 stars
1/21/04 John Peters Truly unique... refreshing and thought provoking. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Apr-2005

UK
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