Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Millennium (1989)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Warning:  I’m going to give away major details about the movie, including and up to the end of the movie.  If you’re not into this sort of stuff, now would be a good time to stop reading.

I saw Millennium a long time ago.  It’s one of those movies where I remembered a few key scenes, but not much else.  I think I may have watched it at a friend’s house.  What little I remember, I remember having questions about, which I’ll get to later.

The movie starts with two planes colliding.  It’s scary enough to be piloting a doomed aircraft, but the navigator goes back to check on the passengers to find that they’re all burned.  This wouldn’t be unusual, except that the plane hasn’t crashed yet.

Enter Bill Smith.  He spends long periods of time going around investigating plane crashes.  This one shouldn’t be that unusual, except that the navigator was heard on the black box saying how all the passengers were dead.  Was he hallucinating from the stress of being on a doomed flight?  Maybe they heard wrong.

That alone wouldn’t be that suspicious, except that that this scientist, Dr. Arnold Mayer, is nosing around.  He seems to have a thing for plane crashes.  He investigates them hoping to find something.  In any event, they have a lot of wreckage to go through.  In fact, someone comments on the fact that they have flight attendants serving coffee.  When Smith asks for some coffee, the flight attendant he calls for runs away.

Well, it doesn’t take long for her to approach him and set up a date for that night.  They spend the night together and in the morning, she asks him not to go in to work.  They won’t miss him for a day.  Right?  He leaves for work, but realizes that he’s forgotten something in his room.  When he goes back, she’s not only gone, but the room looks like it was just made up.

It turns out that mystery woman, Louise Baltimore, is from the future.  In the future, humanity is on the brink of extinction, having run the planet into the ground.  She and her team are coming back in time to take people that won’t be missed to help repopulate the world.  The idea is that since the people are going to die on plane crashes anyway, no one will notice that they’re gone if you replace them with a dead body of similar size and makeup.

The trouble is that her team is kind of sloppy.  Not only does Louise lose her stunner for Smith to find, but a member of her team loses a stunner for Mayer to find as a child.  Yes, Mayer was the lone survivor of a plane crash.  He found a stunner and was able to keep part of it.  When Mayer and Smith meet, Mayer is able to put together a complete stunner and accidentally kill himself.  This causes a massive time paradox, which forces the future people to send their kidnapped people into the distant future to repopulate the world.  Baltimore and Smith end up going with them, presumably to live happily ever after.

I have several problems with the movie.  First, the team of time travelers don’t seem to be that good.  Yes, I realize that humanity’s population has dwindled and it’s possible that this is the best that humanity has to offer, but you think they’d at least know better than to leave technology which doesn’t belong.

Also, the movie seems to take both sides of predetermination.  Baltimore can look back into her past, but there are certain parts that are censored so that she doesn’t know what her personal future holds.  Thus, there is some sense that she’s destined to go back in time.  However, it’s still possible to screw things up royally.  You could leave parts of a stunner for someone to find and assemble only to have them cause a major paradox and destroy everything.

This leads me to the third in this chain of questions.  If it’s possible for the future society to quickly make a hotel room look like it was made up, couldn’t they have a way to track and recall their own technology?  You’d think that as Baltimore’s team was being recalled, they’d be like, “Oh, she dropped a stunner.  Let me just get that and…done.”  Instead, they set up several paradoxes that they attempt to fix, only to make things worse.

On this note, one thing that I remember wondering is how the kidnapped people were able to be sent into the future.  If you can change the past and affect the present to create a paradox, wouldn’t that mean that the entire operation would go away?  It does, which means that there would be no machine to take people from the past and no machine to send them into the future.  I can see that they’d at least take the chance, but what’s the point?  It seemed like they were certain that the people would survive.

Also, you’re sending all of these random people into an unknown situation.  At least in those hypothetical situations you had in school, you had several useful people to chose from, like a doctor and a lawyer.  Here, they’re just sending in whoever they have and hoping for the best.  Yes, I realize that it was kind of rushed.  They were probably planning on having more time and they probably were looking for particular people.  If you’re going to take one person from a doomed flight, why not just take all of the passengers?

One big thing was why they had to go so far back.  I guess they wanted to make sure that they had people well before any catastrophic event that decimated the planet, but they had to replace the people with bodies that were genetically the same and probably even had the same fingerprints and personal items.  How did they know?  How were they able to get DNA to create a clone?  How did the get fingerprint records?  Did they have to make another trip that we never saw?

The movie is based on a short story, which may explain some of this.  I’d have to read it to know for certain.   This is one of the few cases where I could see a remake being an improvement.  It has some interesting aspects, like getting people from planes to repopulate the planet, but doesn’t put them together all that well.  It’s one of those things that would have been better if more had been explained. 

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