Primer (2004) Review

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Primer (2004)

Directed by Shane Carruth

Starring:
Shane Carruth
David Sullivan
Casey Gooden
Andand Upadhyaya

Running time: 77 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.

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My Opinion:

What. The. Hell. Seriously – if you’ve seen this movie & you’ve come here looking for answers, you’ve come to the wrong place! I’m far too stupid for this movie. Don’t get me wrong – I love movies that make you think. Believe me, I get bored with all the braindead Michael Bay blockbuster type shit that keeps being made but Primer just made my head hurt.

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First of all, anyone who reads my stuff often enough probably knows that I have a tendency to fall asleep anytime I try to watch a movie at home. Hey, I’m tired & old & have a young child – give me a break! I’ve never fallen asleep during a movie as many times as I did while trying to make it through Primer, though. Holy shit! I think it took me about seven separate attempts to finish it plus I had to keep rewinding the bit where they “time travel” (or whatever the hell it was that they did) for the first time & the one guy was explaining to the other guy how it works & I was trying to wrap my little brain around his explanation. That bit was complicated enough as it was but then they kept doing the time travel thing and trying to undo things and, I dunno, undo things undone and, like, try to stop someone being shot or something and make money off the stock market or some shit like that and double selves talked to past selves and past selves talked to double selves (is that right??) and they did all this while lying around in this time travel box thingy that they created in this one dude’s garage. And they talk & talk & talk about scientific gobbledegook the entire time. Blah blah blah. At least I found one of the main two guys (Shane Carruth – also the film’s writer & director) kind of sexy in that “really smart guy who wouldn’t talk to me because I’m a complete idiot compared to him” kind of way. I love smart dudes!

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Anyway, these two engineer dudes create this time travel box by accident while working on some other confusing scientific thing. This is one of those movies where, unless you’re Einstein, you have to go reading about it online afterwards. Normally I enjoy having to do this but I couldn’t be bothered this time. The first place I go if I want to refresh my memory before I do a movie review is Wikipedia just to read the full plot summary (here’s the one for Primer). Hahaha! Well, I can’t even make it through that without getting confused all over again so I gave up on reading anything further about this film. And this is the first time I’ve seen Wikipedia include diagrams to help explain a movie. I’m going to include the one that explains how the time travel works in Primer. I don’t consider this a SPOILER but I’m putting a little warning here just in case you want to watch this movie without knowing anything beforehand. I think seeing this diagram first may help, though – I wish I’d actually seen it before watching the movie. If you like the look of this diagram & if it actually makes sense to you, please watch the film so you can explain it to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Link to the diagram on Wikipedia

Oh, that’s the simple one. Here’s a chart that apparently explains the whole movie (link HERE to be able to view it properly. I got it from THIS article, which gives a fairly simple overview to help you understand Primer. But I still don’t!):

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Summary:

From what I could gather, Primer is about time travel. It was directed by, written by, produced by, edited by, scored by, and starring Shane Carruth, who is clearly some sort of can-do-it-all genius. He also managed to make this on an extremely low budget and, although it seems low budget in some ways, it’s also pretty damn good for the small amount of money Carruth had to work with. It has lots and lots of technical mumbo jumbo that went way over my head but, from the tiny bit I’ve read online, it’s all accurate scientific stuff so boy genius Carruth obviously knows his stuff. I’d maybe hate him for being so perfect if he wasn’t so cute and if I didn’t find guys with big brains a total turn on. I’m never watching another movie of his again, though. Screw Upstream Color – I’ll stick with things like Back To The Future. I can follow that. Oh look – it’s now Lone Pine Mall! Haha! I get stuff like that! Plus a DeLorean is way cooler than a stupid box.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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YES! The smart dudes in Primer use a Weeble in their first time travel experiment (well, they don’t know the Weeble is time travelling at first but figure it out because some sort of shit accumulates on it. Or… something. No idea). Anyway! Weebles were awesome. It gave me very fond memories of the two cool Weebles sets I had as a kid (the circus and the haunted house).

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I really wanted to know which Weeble was used in Primer. From the movie photo above, I’d say it looks like the boy in the circus set:

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It was quite a while ago that I watched Primer so I can’t remember if they used more than one Weeble in their experiments. Maybe. Yes, I spent longer researching Weebles than I did researching an explanation of the movie. This is how my brain works. But I had a lot more fun reminiscing about Weebles than I did watching Primer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

By the way – I think these UK Weebles looked really weird compared to the American ones I grew up with:

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**Feel free to try to discuss Primer with me in the Comments but I’ll be just as happy (happier) if you want to discuss Weebles and any other retro toys instead** ๐Ÿ™‚

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59 thoughts on “Primer (2004) Review

  1. Those Weebles are creepy!!! I have this on my Netflix list but I am kind of scared now. I get confused by confusing plots very, very easily!

    • Lol. Yeah… I suppose I gave the impression that this was rather confusing. It’s probably just me being stupid, though. Please watch it & explain it to me! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Did you have Weebles as a kid? It’s weird how the American & UK ones were so different…

      • I grew up in South Africa and I don’t think Weebles were a thing. We didn’t have loads of toys as kids though mostly just LEGO and a few dolls.

      • It wasn’t a bad thing. We did loads of arts and crafts instead. My mum was a Kindergarten teacher so she was all about imaginative play and creativity. Plus the minute I could read I completely lost interest in playing with toys… or other humans.

      • I don’t know if it works if you really have to push plus spending all my time with books meant I didn’t have very many friends.

  2. I LOVED Weebles! “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” was a popular catchphrase from the commercials. Oh that takes me back. Thanks for the nostalgia! Great review too by the way.

    • Thanks! The review sucks but I really was hoping people would talk to me about Weebles instead. Lol! You’re welcome for the nostalgia. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love to reminisce about my old toys (which my mother sold at garage sales – I’m still mad about that!). ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I actually hated this movie (I just watched it recently) I’ll give you one guess why : )

    #youwanker

    P.S. Upstream Color is good – it’s fucking weird but good –

    • I agree – I wish MORE people would watch movies like these & give them more of a chance. Even though this one was totally over my head, I still appreciate it when stuff like this gets made. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lol! I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one confused by this movie! You’re way smarter than I am so if you don’t understand it, there’s no hope for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Watch it! Watch it & explain it to me! It’s kind of annoyingly indie, though, so I don’t know if you’d go for it. I’ve not seen Timecrimes but I just looked it up & it sounds interesting! Sounds better than Primer. And… I think eating a dozen Weebles is probably not a very good idea! Did they eventually… pass….?

    • Timecrimes is probably one of the darkest black-comedy time-travel movies ever made. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I even reviewed it in more than a few sentences โ€” http://jayceland.com/blog/archive/2009/01/25/timecrimes-at-the-dryden/ ).

      I saw Primer a while ago and rather liked it. I haven’t picked-apart the technobabble, nor read much about it, but my gut instinct was it was extremely clever but essentially meaninglessโ€”maybe I’ll check to see if someone deciphered it. I kind of appreciated that since it helped me suspend disbelief. And I think the first 15 minutes or so might be quite boring (a few guys discussing the details of a small tech business) but I thought the scenario was extremely realistic. But then the whole rest of the movie is practically comic with its temporal muddling.

      And I used to write snarky one-line plot summaries for my events blog, and when Primer came out in 2004, I wrote, “Impossible to comprehend plot about a time-altering device that affects the plot.” That is, coincidentally, my feelings afterward.

      • Oh, the first 15 minutes were boring as hell. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I did enjoy it, though. Or… Appreciated it at the very least. Yeah, I’ll probably check out Timecrimes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hahaha this movie has had semi-joke diagrams made about it to try and explain it all. No one gets this movie mate, you’re not alone! I for one loved it though, have watched it several times. Its short and no matter how many times you watch it you’ll always come out thinking ‘What the heellllll…’ ;D I still have no idea how it all works either and I’ve watched it at least ten times!

      • I need to rewatch Enemy and write about it, I was too stoned when I watched it when it first came out. I remember liking it, and liking how Gylenhaal played the two characters so differently. Eisenburg does that surprisingly well in the Double, its actually a great dark comedy. Inspired by Dostoyevsky, dunno if The Enemy was too.

  5. Saw this a few years back and thought it was a bit interesting, but yes, it does get extremely confusing. Maybe I’ll watch it again one of these days (if I ever find time to watch a movie…I’m swamped ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Love the diagrams and of course how you can turn a review about time travel into one about loveable weebles.

    Nice job c….. (nah, I wont call you that again) ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. My boyfriend loves this film but he’s got a scientific brain haha. I’ve only watched it once and I enjoyed it but I found it SO confusing!!!!!! Even if you have good intentions to sit there and pay attention to everything, it soon gets really fuzzy lol.

    Great review ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. It is the most awesome, unbelievable sci fi movie ever made. I am totally hooked on it and have been watching it for a couple years. (I always watch my favorites over and over, that’s how I know a movie is good.)

    Yes, it is impossibly complex and I even recommend you read about it before you watch it because no one can follow it the first time (prolly not even Einstein).

    BUT, what is so impossibly great about it in my opinion is it shows some really smart guys who accidentally invent a thing they can’t possibly hope to control. SPOILER the very first time they use the thing they spin hopelessly out of control but even they don’t know it. That is why IMHO he made the movie so hard to follow because the main characters in the story could not follow what was happening to them.

    It’s SO mind numbing that now there are two of you (you think, but are not sure) and you have no way of knowing what the other one (two three etc) are doing or thinking or time travelling or coming after you …

    Brilliant, so good, and you never get tired of watching it because you’ll never fully understand what happened because the guys in the movie don’t. (and like you said in your article they are way smarter than most of us. : )

    Thanks for your review.

    • Thanks for the comment! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry I’m so late to reply – just catching up on things after Christmas now. Glad to hear from such a big fan of this! I’d have to say this movie has gone up in my estimation since I wrote this & I was thinking that I really should watch it again sometime. Although I know I’ll never fully understand it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I may check out his Upstream Color movie now to see if that’s less or more confusing!

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