MOVIE: * (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I’m a huge science fiction fan, and it’s not just because I grew up with a steady diet of “Star Wars” in the 70s and 80s. I read science fiction. I enjoy science fiction television. I think it’s one of those genres that can really go places that normal drama cannot.
Speculative fiction, on the other hand, blows hot and cold for me. While some speculative fiction pieces have fascinating potential, the genre can often get stuffy and pretentious, using a sci-fi concept as a thin veil to just have another weepy character drama.
“Another Earth” is a great example of speculative fiction gone wrong. The movie follows a young woman who causes a car crash that kills a man’s wife and son. Her once-prosperous life is cripple by a stint in juvie and a loss of her Ivy League scholarship. Once free, she becomes a janitor and seeks out the man whose life she ruined, without his knowledge that she’s the other driver (because she was a minor when it happened). This is set against the backdrop of astronomers discovering a second Earth in orbit around the sun. As the world looks to this new Earth with hope, they plan a mission for people to travel their and possibly start a new life.
My problem with “Another Earth” is that the entire science fiction element of the plot is unnecessary. I suppose the writers and director felt it was to show a hope for the lead character to leave and start a new life, but how is that not accomplished with a trip to Europe instead of an interplanetary journey?
One of my main beefs with speculative fiction is that it is often written by people who aren’t well-versed in the science fiction field, and this yields stories that became hopelessly cliche as far back as the pulp EC comics and “Twilight Zone” episodes.
The science behind “Another Earth” makes no sense, which leaves us to wonder if the writing was just so lazy the filmmakers just wanted us to go with the subject without question. And it’s a concept I’ve seen over and over and over again.
To make matters worse, the filmmakers in behind-the-scene interviews talk about how unique and brilliant this is. Some performances are decent, but others (particularly the secondary roles) are wickedly bad… I’m talking community theater bad. Existing on a ludicrous pretense and masquerading as a daring piece of fiction, this becomes nothing more than an utterly trite kitchen sink drama.
Packaged with the DVD and a Digital Copy disc, the Blu-ray includes deleted scenes, a music video from Fall On Your Sword and three specials from Fox Movie Channel called “Direct Effect with Mike Cahill” and “In Character” with Brit Marling and William Mapother. Finally, there are the featurettes “The Science Behind Another Earth” and “Creating Another Earth.”