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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: In Time

January 31st, 2012

In Time - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

In Time is a movie that can be seen as a box office bomb when you look at the film's domestic numbers, as it only made $37 million on a $35 million budget. If you take into account the film's Prints and Advertising budget, plus the exhibitioners' share, the film lost quite a bit of money domestically. On the other hand, it made more than $100 million internationally, which is more than enough to pay for its production budget, and to put a serious dent of its global P and A budget. Is there some reason it didn't work here while it worked internationally? And should domestic audiences give it another chance?

The Movie

In Time takes place in a world where genetic engineering has conquered aging. Once people reach 25 years old, they stop aging. However, because this would lead to a population explosion, every person dies one year after their 25th birthday and they have to buy more time. To cut out the middleman, time has become the currency of this society with the time left printed out on your arm and when you hit zero, you die immediately. The rich can effectively live forever in 25-year old bodies, while the poor struggle just to make it one more day.

Will Salas as he says happy birthday to his mom, Rachel. He spent a lot of his time on some fancy champagne to celebrate, but first she has to go to work for the next couple days, while he's got to go to the factory where he makes Time Capsules. (Think of them as dollar bills, only you have to charge them before you spend them.) After work he heads off to a bar to retrieve one of his friends, Borel. Borel has been having a good night, because a very rich man, Henry Hamilton, has been buying drinks for everyone. He has more than a century on his clock and has been flaunting it. This attracts the attention of Fortis, a member of a gang called The Minutemen. Despite Henry's near-suicidal lack of concern for his own safety, Will helps him evade his pursuers.

Will and Henry talk about the time they have left. Henry's 105 years old and has 116 years left; however, while he's physically fit, he's grown tired of living forever. It's not just that he's lived too long, he can't deal with the guilt anymore. He knows that for the few rich to be effectively immortal, many people have to die young. This is why prices keep going up, to kill off the poor. If the system were fair, no one would have to die before their time. That night, they sleep in an abandoned warehouse, but when Henry wakes up before Will, he transfers all but five minutes of his life to Will and writes a message in the dirt on the warehouse window. "Don't waste my time."

The first thing he does is give Borel a decade, so he can spend more time with his wife, Greta, and his new kid. He then plans to get to his mom and get to New Greenwich, where all the rich people live. However, the bus fare went up, and his mother doesn't have enough to pay. She tries to run to him in time, but dies in his arms. He still plans to go to New Greenwich, but instead of living the good life with his mother, he decides to get revenge on the system.

At this time, we see Raymond Leon, one of the Timekeepers. The Timekeepers are cops that deal with time related crimes and they are very interested in the theft of more than a century. It's not long before he sees the security tape with Will on it right after Henry died and he quickly deduces that Will's first move will be to get out of his time zone and into a more expense one. Once he has Will's face, he quickly gets his name.

Once Will is in New Greenwich, he attracts the attention of a few people for his strange behavior. For instance, he runs. He eats fast. He does (nearly) everything fast, because he's used to not having enough time. He heads to the casino and ends up winning 1100 years in a poker hand with Philippe Weis, whose daughter, Sylvia, whom Will had seen previously, invites Will to a party Philippe is throwing. Will gets to know Sylvia, but their romantic evening gets interrupted when Raymond shows up to question him. He also confiscates all but two hours of his life. But this is when he decides to go on the run, but to get away, he'll need a hostage. Sylvia.

I've said it before, and I'll likely say it again. Watching a movie that is close to being great is much more frustrating than watching a movie that is really bad. In Time is very close to being an amazing movie. It takes an excellent premise, making the "time is money" metaphor literal, and turns it into a film that is, at times, a rather scathing attack on our current economic / political system. However, it is also, at times, a rather generic action movie, while the storytelling is a little too forceful and on the nose at times. And I don't mean the time related puns in the movie. Well, I don't just mean the time related puns in this movie, as there were a lot of them. (Time Zones, Time Capsule, etc.) "For a few to be immortal, many must die." is a phrase we hear a few times in the movie, and while it would certainly be true given the world we see, when we hear it and see the effects too many times, it does come across as too preachy. Also, and I think this is a bigger sin, the film doesn't use this idea effectively. Too many of the characters are poorly defined, or seem unnecessary for the plot. And not enough ideas are fully developed.

Overall the film is worth checking out, but there are enough flaws that it won't be a fully satisfactory experience.

(On a side note, hearing Philippe Weis talk about evolution drove me nuts. His philosophy was based on such a massive misunderstanding of the science of Evolution is was painful to hear. What he was talking about was Eugenics, which is selective breeding and the exact opposite of Evolution.)

The Extras

There are only two extras on the Blu-ray. The first is called The Minutes, and it is a 16-minute in characters documentary featurette on the ideas from the movie. There are also nearly a dozen deleted / extended scenes with a total running time of 13 minutes. The Blu-ray also has some BD-Live extras, but it is limited to Live Look-up and that's it.

The Blu-ray does look and sound great. There are strong details, solid colors, etc. There are quite a few scenes that are very dark, but also some that are washed out by the bright Los Angeles sunlight, which adds to the variety of the look of the film. The audio is solid with clear dialogue, while there are some scenes that will put your surround sound speakers to good use.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack costs $5 more than the DVD, which is an acceptable price to pay.

The Verdict

In Time missed expectations at the box office, but while it is a flawed film, it is worth checking out. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray Combo Pack, so I think a rental will be enough for most.

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Filed under: Video Review, In Time