Well, to be fair, I also watched Logan, but this is not a movie review blog, and that one is totally irrelevant to my point.
First of all, I want to mention that I will mark the section when spoilers will start, so you can safely read until then.
There are a lot of styles of movies that I like. I enjoy, for example, watching an Avengers blockbuster movie, as much as anyone. But after the movie is over, that’s it. I might be hyped for a sequel, I might discuss it a little bit, but usually after a week or two I won’t think about the movie at all except when I see a reference to it.
I have seen many science-fiction movies about Robots and/or Time Travel, since I find those topics extremely interesting. I usually enjoy them, but again, that’s it.
Most of the time, robot movies either have a completely evil robot or AI controlling many robots and the point is to get rid of those, or the robot is nice and a victim of discrimination for “not being real”. Either way, they are either portrayed as a very human-like machine or as a metal monster. Sometimes both.
Time travel movies have, most of the time, very unclear rules.
Time travel, being a completely undiscovered technology, has very unclear rules by itself, but there are three popular theories. The first being Multiverse theory, where any time travelling would create an alternate timeline, and therefore avoid paradoxes. The second one is stable time loop theory, where any time travelling to the past would only contribute to creating events that already happened in the original timeline, since it already contained the arrival and actions of the time traveller himself. And the last one is the “you can change stuff” style, where your actions in the past will directly affect the present you knew and change it, possibly creating paradoxes if the time traveller is not careful enough.
But the problem is, many movies don’t subscribe to a single style. Those theories are exclusively mutual, but the movies switch between them for the sake of plot devices.
A good example would be Back to the Future. At first, it looks like its a “you can change the past” movie, but sometimes Marty’s actions directly contribute to the timeline he already knew, for example when he inspires a “Chuck” by playing the song Johnny B. Goode in 1955. He also inspires a janitor to become Mayor because he saw him being mayor back in 1985.
I didn’t really understand at first why I loved Ex Machina and Time lapse that much, considering that they are two indie movies containing lots of dialogue and little action. But then I realised it. They actually got it right. They did not sacrifice logic and research to, ironically, deux ex machina their way out of plot problems. It felt like the makers actually did research the subject and tries their best to create a fiction that fits the science, instead of changing the science to fit the fiction.
In Ex Machina, a computer programmer, Caleb, works for BlueBook, a tech company owning 95% of the search engine market on the internet, and wins the company lottery and is invited at the Owner’s remote house to see some cutting edge new technology. He then encounters Ava, an artificial intelligence, and has to interact with her to try to figure out if she has a conciousness, or is just a machine.
The next part will spoil Ex Machina
The movie is incredibly accurate in showing us how an AI could probably escape confinement in the AI in a box experiment, no matter how well the box is designed. It also doesn’t make uneducated guesses as to what an ASI-level AI would do once free, since it is literally impossible for humans to guess it by definition.
In Time lapse, three roommates stumble upon an invention of their scientist neighbor, a machine that takes pictures everyday of their living room 24h into the future. They end up using the machine to earn money by gambling, but soon they get in trouble because of it.
The next part will spoil Time lapse
Just to be clear, I am not saying that using a causal loop (stable time loop) is “right” or “accurate”. I’m just praising the commitment to a single time-travel model, and a good understanding of how it would work if it was the “right” one, according to our extremely limited knowledge of time travel, which is basically just speculation.
Obviously, in the future, I’ll be looking for those kind of movies. I think that before, I had sort of given up on ever seeing one of those, because obviously movie-making and advanced science are very different fields of work, so I probably subconsciously thought that no one who would make movies would also have the time to study that stuff enough to make it accurate. I’m very glad to see that this was wrong.
I hear Triangle is pretty good.
EDIT: Triangle is a pretty interesting movie, with plenty of action and msytery, but it doesn’t fall into that “wow, the writers really studied their stuff” category. I was kinda disapointed. The movie is pretty good, but it’s hard not to notice the obvious plot holes. Those plot holes can be explained by speculating about some characters being stuck in limbo or something similar, but that doesn’t make the movie impressively scientifically accurate like the two above.