Science fiction is an interesting genre. Though the films have found mainstream appeal with franchises like Star Trek and movies like The Martian, there is still an odd stigma attached to it. The genre is often treated as a joke that only nerds are really into. Being interested in sci fi is fodder for sitcoms and supporting characters in lowbrow comedies. In other words, sci fi is popular, but it is not cool.
The irony is that most sci fi movies are content to play to the lowest common denominator. As fun as movies like The Terminator and The Fifth Element are, they will never be accused of being deep think pieces. The most watched movies of the genre are the ones that keep the science part to a minimum. To that end, most sci fi provides visceral fun that scratches an immediate itch in the quickest fashion.
Then, there are movies like the recently released Minor Premise. The plot follows a neuroscientist named Ethan. In order to live up to (or escape) his father’s legacy, he begins conducting experiments on himself. As any fan of sci fi or horror will tell you, it is never a good idea to experiment on yourself. This is also the case here as Ethan soon finds out.
The premise sounds familiar. Along with the father issue dynamic, there is also the cautionary tale about taking risks with your own body. Minor Premise goes much deeper, however. The story delves into ideas of time and identity that are touched on in these types of movies but rarely explored. This is more than a tale of good Ethan versus evil Ethan. The plot has the audience ask about reality and self worth.
This is easier said than done. There are plenty of movies that have dealt with alternate realities and selves. While these movies can be enjoyable, they tend to lack true thought. The audience is told what is happening and to accept it without question. Minor Premise invites them, drawing the audience even deeper into its fantastic story.
From a technical standpoint, when the audience is engaged in the film, other things are noticed. For example, the use of clocks and watches in Minor Premise adds a layer of tension. The dialogue is sharp and the direction adds to the movie’s mind bending tale. The characters become more interesting and the story seems less haphazard.
This does not mean that a movie should try to go over the audience’s head. Primer is a great example of this. On first viewing, the realistic nature of this time travel flick is impressive. It has a documentary type feel about it. Repeated showings will reveal a generic time travel story that uses scientific language for window dressing.
Minor Premise is an intelligent science fiction story that gets the balance right. The movie never talks down to the audience and instead presents an intriguing tale about a person with relatable motives. The movie is more concerned with impressing audiences with its story and ideas. It is a rewarding watch that proves it is possible to be popular, cool, and smart.
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