The Last Mimzy

The central idea in The Last Mimzy–of the future calling upon the past to save it–is one of great potency and emotion. That this takes the form of dozens (hundreds?) of rabbit dolls sent back through time is potentially sentimental, but also deeply strange, in a good way.

For the first half of The Last Mimzy, which focuses on two children discovering a rabbit doll and accompanying marvels, has a kind of innocence and simplicity that is deeply appealing. The way that this future technology makes them see the world is deftly conveyed.

The problems occur as soon as Homeland Security comes knocking due to a power outage created by the children’s experiments with the technology. From this point forward, the movie operates at the level of a Lifetime movie or an afterschool special. The characterization of pretty much everyone but the children is perfunctory at best and there’s a flatness to the dramatic tension throughout most of the rest of the movie to the unsurprising ending. Even worse, when the children are imprisoned by Homeland Security, you really don’t believe in any way, shape, or form that they could escape…or that there wouldn’t be more security cameras and personnel around, especially in the laboratory. At this point, the plot just drags the characters along.

Compounding this problem is the view of the future, which needs to be horribly real–like the brief glimpses of the future in Terminator–but comes off more like the discarded sets and costumes from a bad Dr. Who episode or a canceled Nickelodeon series. Whoever designed the future in The Last Mimzy has never seen a good SF movie.

Both Ann and I were deeply disappointed by the movie because we really thought after the first 40 minutes or so that we would like the whole thing.

Comments

  1. says

    Have you read the short story this is based on? (Mimsy were the Borogoves by Lewis Padgett). I liked it very very much, but from what I understand the movie is only loosely based on it. I am still curious, but given your opinions I probably won’t bother seeing it at the cinema… Too bad, the story has real potential.

  2. says

    I hate to disagree, Jen, but I recently re-read the Padgett story and found it suffered from many of the flaws that sf had to shake off to come out of the 1950s. It’s a great concept and it’s written with an admirable toughness, but it belongs in the sf pantheon mostly by dint of its historical importance rather than its timelessness.

    Having said that, I think this is *exactly* the sort of material Hollywood should be adapting to screen. It allows ideas in sf literature to percolate across to sf cinema. And being far from perfect source material it gives the filmmaker an opportunity to work on a new narrative based on the ideas in the story rather than having to slavishly follow a classic that everyone knows and loves. (If “I, Robot” had been an original screenplay it would have been just another mediocre film; but it was made almost unbearable by its failure to explore a single thought from Asimov’s original). Sadly, just because “Mimsy” is the perfect adaptation material doesn’t mean the filmmakers actually knew how to adapt it.

  3. says

    I haven’t read it–will seek it out.

    Yeah–I thought there was no reason it couldn’t be a great movie. They just needed to tame their big-budget Hollywood plot-holes-at-expense-of-reason tendencies.

    JV

  4. says

    I too was disappointed by The Last Mimzy. The concept looked good, and the allusion to Lewis Carrol made me excited. However, it did fall apart in the second half with the ludicrous elements of a pre-teen boy stealing a car and escaping from the government. Still, I though the tie-in with mandalas was particularly inventive.

    I have not read the short story, but now that I’ve heard that it’s worthwhile, I’ll have to search it out.

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