This Weekend Review takes us back in time a couple years to 2014, when Heinlein’s most notorious time-travel tale made it to the big screen.

Title: Predestination

Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig
Written by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig from the short story “ ’—All You Zombies—’ ” by Robert Heinlein.

Cast

Ethan Hawke as The Agent
Sarah Snook as The Unmarried Mother
Noah Taylor as Mr. Robertson
Christopher Kirby as Agent Miles
Christopher Sommers as Mr. Miller
Monique Heath as 10-year-old Jane
Olivia Sprague as 5-year-old Jane
Madeleine West as Mrs. Stapleton
Freya Stafford as Alice
Jim Knobeloch as Dr. Belfort
Christopher Stollery as The Interviewer
Cate Wolfe as Beth
Ben Prendergast as Dr. Clarke
Tyler Coppin as Dr. Heinlein
Rob Jenkins as Mr. Jones
Elise Jansen as Nurse
Kuni Hashimoto as Dr. Fujimoto
Sara El-Yafi as Lab Technician
Vanessa Crouch as Recruit 1
Eliza D’Souza as Recruit 2

Available from Amazon.

Premise:

After recovering from a dangerous encounter, a time-traveling agent meets an individual in a bar in 1970, hears his life story, and makes him an unusual offer.

High Point:

The movie features a number of High Points. The acting is strong. The bomber threat, which suits the film genre, has been added without significantly damaging the time-bending, mind-frakking source story. However, one interesting High Point is the timeframe. Heinlein wrote the source tale in 1958; he sold it a year later. Most of his story takes place in an imagined near-future which is now our past. The Spierigs maintain the original dates, and what we see are only slightly-altered versions of the history we know, with the addition of top-secret time-travel and a slightly expanded space program. New York in the 1970s has the expected tacky clothing. People in the mid-1960s watch mid-1960s TV programs. The Spierigs actually make the settings work.

Low Points

The adaptation preserves a lot of the original spoken narration, which works fine in a written story but can seem slow-moving in a visual medium.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 Despite the addition of a serial bomber, the story stays quite close to the source material—concepts Heinlein and others had already addressed1 and have revisited many times.

Effects: 5/6

Acting: 6/6 The film received a number of acting-related nominations and awards, and deservedly so. Sarah Snook stands out in a film of strong performances.

Production: 5/6

Story: 6/6 Since I already knew the story, I cannot really determine if the twists, as presented here, are too predictable or not. Does anyone have an opinion on the matter?

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, Predestination receives 33/42

Note

1. Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps” (1941) shares much with this story, although “ ’—All You Zombies—’ ” may be the most bizarre ontological exploration in SF history. David Gerrold’s The Man Who Folded Himself owes much to “ ’—All You Zombies—’ ”.