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Primer  (2004)


Rating: PG-13

Distributor: New Line Home Entertainment

Release Date: April 19, 2005
Review posted: April 27, 2005


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




While conducting experiments in a garage, two brilliant engineers (Shane Carruth, David Sullivan) who lead double lives accidentally discover that their project enables them to travel back in time. Each man's curiosity leads to experiments without the other's knowledge, some with serious consequences.




Filled with technical jargon and some impressive props (simple yet very effective) for a low-budget film, Primer presents an interesting and intriguing story that soon evolves into a type of mystery and puzzle. The script starts off pretty slow as it introduces the characters and their situation, which is that these guys want to create a product or idea they can later sell for big profit. As the movie seemingly creeps along (the pace is quite slow for the first hour) the story begins to unravel turning into somewhat of a mindbender. That is, once the two guys realize they have built a time machine of sorts (it requires they enter a large box with an oxygen tank), they begin to experiment with time and opportunity, meaning investing in stocks. However, their situation soon becomes complicated and even dangerous, which creates a good amount of tension.


Despite an intriguing premise, after it was over I had a hard time trying to figure out what exactly happened. I couldn't grasp the idea behind the time traveling, or how they achieved it, which is somewhat of a setback. Parts of the movie are kind of confusing and not fully explained. On the other hand, Primer is well done for a low-budget production, I especially liked the cinematography and the mood of the score. Shane Carruth's direction in interesting as he achieves some good moments of tension and intrigue. The acting by Carruth and David Sullivan is fairly good.




New Line presents Primer in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video isn't the best quality (it was shot with the most affordable film - meaning Super 16mm - the director could afford) as there is lots of grain throughout the picture, as well as a lot of natural light. Some specks and dirt appear also. Colors look okay, they're mildly well saturated. English and Spanish subtitles are available.




New Line presents Primer in English Stereo 2.0 Surround. Dialogue is sometimes easy to hear but other times it's very hard to make out, so subtitles sure come in handy. The music and few sound effects are presented rather nicely through the front speakers.




Two commentary tracks are included with this release. Commentary by writer/director Shane Carruth is informative and interesting for most of the duration. He shares some stories from the production and also explains several scenes in the movie but sadly doesn't go into much detail about what is really happening in the story.


The cast and crew commentary is more entertaining as the participants tell a few good stories and chat about various things, but it's not as informative as the first track, plus some information is repeated.


Also available is the theatrical trailer and previews for other New Line titles. An interview piece would've been nice.




Primer is an interesting movie to look at even though some story elements are a bit confusing. The DVD is decent so I'll recommend it as a rental.




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