starring Leslie Odom, Jr., Freida Pinto, Cynthia Erivo, Orlando Bloom
written for the screen by John Ridley, based on the short story by Robert Silverberg
directed by John Ridley
by Walter Chaw A cautionary tale about writing something whilst in a state of forced, artificial love-drunk, John Ridley's Needle in a Timestack is this year's Serenity: a film so intensely invested in its adolescent feelings that it's headed towards a specific state of camp immortality. Nick (Leslie Odom, Jr.)--because "Nick of time," get it?--is married to Janine (Cynthia Erivo), and they're that kind of The Notebook couple who speak to each other as though they were scripted by Nicholas Sparks, who, let's face it, on the Stephanie Meyer scale of cultural whoopsies, can barely string three words together. "Dance like no one's watching," someone moans in a high state of agitation. "Love is a closed circle," someone else declares; between that and "True Detective"'s "time is a flat circle," circles are doing a lot of heavy lifting in the realm of purple overwriting. In this future as imagined by a perfume commercial, time travel is a recreational lark indulged in by the hyper-rich, causing occasional "time waves" that wash over the world like the exact same visualization of the exact same concept in A Sound of Thunder, a film so terrible that your body's autonomous defense mechanism has already largely expelled it from your memory. That film, like this one, is based on a classic science-fiction story: Ray Bradbury there, Robert Silverberg here. The concept of "based" is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this instance, too.