Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Needle in a Timestack (2021)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Needle in a Timestack (2021)
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance
Length: 1h 51min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Ember20, Montana North Media, Lionsgate
Director: John Ridley
Writer: John Ridley, Robert Silverberg
Actors: Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto, Cynthia Erivo, Orlando Bloom, Jadyn Wong, Ulka Simone Mohanty, Elizabeth Weinstein, Gourav Shah, Laysla De Oliveira
Blurb from IMDb: Nick and Janine live in marital bliss until Janine's ex-husband warps time to try to tear them apart. As Nick's memories disappear, he must decide what he's willing to sacrifice in order to hold onto - or let go of - everything he loves.

Selina’s Point of View:
There was a lot to like about Needle in a Timestack, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
At the very start of the flick, I got a distinct ‘commercial’ feel from it. The way the cameras zoomed in on the various pieces of technology felt more like they were trying to sell something than tell a story. That’s something Black Mirror (2011-2019) also does a lot of to showcase whatever tech they’re using in the plot. I understand why it’s done, but there’s got to be a better way. It takes me out of the story, at least a little, every time.
The feeling didn’t last throughout the whole movie. When the first time event hit, it caught me off guard. I loved what they did with it. Not only did it look cool, but they managed to explain the entire situation without making me feel like I was sitting through a ton of exposition. That’s impressive for a science fiction.

You also can’t fault any of the acting, either. Leslie Odom Jr. (Central Park, Glass Onion, Harriet), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Luther: The Fallen Sun, Roar), Jadyn Wong (Debug, Scorpion, Cosmopolis), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Mr. Malcolm’s List, Hillbilly Elegy) and Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Outpost, Unlocked) played their parts perfectly. I didn’t see any of their past performances while I was watching, they became their characters completely. That’s saying a lot because I’m a huge fan of Hamilton (2020). To not see Odom as Burr is usually an issue for me.
That’s where the good news ends. The story behind Needle in a Timestack was just kind of mid. It wasn’t bad, but it also didn’t grip me like a good story should. It was a lot of romance tropes, and a very familiar plot, with some interesting sci-fi aspects tossed in. They could have done so much more with the concept.
As a romance, Needle in a Timestack is watchable, but it doesn’t really stand out as much as one would hope.

Cat’s Point of View:
Needle in a Timestack had an interesting concept. I haven’t read the Robert Silverberg (The Twilight Zone: To See the Invisible Man, Amanda & the Alien, Bicentennial Man) short story it was adapted from, but it intrigued me. I adore sci-fi and playing with time and technology are some of the cornerstones of the genre. I mean, I am also a die-hard Whovian so the concept of time travel and its inherent quirks is something that feels very familiar.
Alas, while the sci-fi element was certainly not amiss from the story, it was more heavily leaning on the dramatic side of romance and relationships. Time travel was more like a set piece as a fixture already well-established in the film’s world. There were some thought-provoking moments, however, and the characters were portrayed well. It was just hard to keep my attention because the drama pulled out the time to where I felt like I spent well over 2 hours watching Needle in a Timestack.

I did love how much care went into the characters. You got a good window into how each of them worked so that each shift in the story hit just right. Time shenanigans were subtly worked into the environment through the character connections as well as the surroundings. Needle in a Timestack also handled doling out a serious case of Deja vu to its audience, as well.
I just wish that it had more to offer in the excitement department to help me not play “The Room Where it Happens” in my head over and over when I saw Leslie Odom, Jr. on screen.
While this production doesn’t have me jumping at the chance to watch it again, I did like it. Fans of single-genre romantic dramas might get significantly more out of this story than I did.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 37%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 54%
Metascore – 42%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –5.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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