Yippee Ki-Yay Younger Looper

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Looper was… [ehem] SUPER DOOPER! Sorry, I had to. Thanks for being a trooper. Pooper scooper, Sterling Cooper.

Seriously though, Looper was exactly what I want from a stand alone sci-fi movie. It brings you into it’s world, quickly establishes why it’s different, how it’s futuristic, etc. then it tells a human story with the gimmick (in this case, time travel and a bit more) as the back drop. The futuristic aspects of the story are small elements of the narrative and while they make it possible, they do not overtake or even lead the story as it progresses. In Looper the characters (FANTASTIC performances by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Emily Blunt and a stunning/terrifying young boy) and their choices are the focus. So many one-shot sci-fi films get this formula backwards. It’s like someone writes a cool idea on a napkin (100 years in the future, money is all gone and people use hip hop dancing as currency), then scrambles to write another 119 pages just to make that idea take 2 hours to play out on screen.

My favorite part about Looper is that it was filled with actual “nearly didn’t see that coming” surprises. This was due mainly to the fact that the first round of trailers fooled you into thinking they were serving up the entire plot (young Bruce Willis has to kill old Bruce Willis from the future) on a silver platter, when in fact that only covers about the first half of the movie. The main story is much smaller, much more character-centric, and has nearly nothing to do with time travel. The current trailers are showing more of the 2nd half plot, but nothing that actually clues you in as to what’s going on.

As far as original sci-fi stories go, I have absolutely nothing but praise for this film. SURE, if you question the time travel premise even a little bit, the whole thing falls apart, BUT that’s why we have the old saying, “You can’t spell TIME TRAVEL BULLSHIT without BULLSHIT.” Leave it alone. Let it be. Enjoy the movie. It’s great.

Side note: The makeup effects better win somebody an Oscar. You don’t really get the full impact of JGL’s transformation into young Bruce until the two are face to face on screen for the first time. It’s rather shocking.

ADDITIONAL Side note: If you HAVE seen Looper, go read this interview with the writer where he explains many of the loose ends that might have nagged at your geek-brain.

UPDATE: 

COMMENTERS: What did you think of Looper? Also, what is your favorite/least favorite stand alone (non franchise, series, tv spin off, etc) cinematic sci-fi situation?

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36 Comments

  1. One of my favorite things about Looper was that it explicitly avoided technobabble. They never attempt to explain the mechanics of time travel (or anything else). So, my geek brain was never engaged to pick it apart. My suspenders of disbelief stayed well intact, and I could just enjoy the hell out of the story.

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  2. Hell YES that was an awesome movie! That kid is even scarier than Damien from the original Omen! JGL's acting was perfectly nuanced and Willis' action hero abilities brought just enough beef to the movie – though maybe a little too much in the big shootout scene, that felt the least credible part to me. Also Emily Blunt, 'nuff said!

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  3. Bruce Willis looks a little like John McCain, if we dressed him in his POW clothes.

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  4. Not my usual choice of movie, but I was intrigued by the trailer, make-up, and premise. Was not disappointed! Trailer did not spoil stuff, either! *gasp*
    AlI your comments are worthy to agree with, Joel!

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  5. It was great, but I wish they hadn't cut all the scenes with Admiral Calavicci arguing before the senate committee to keep the Looper project alive. It really would have tied everything together.

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  6. It was a great movie, the only thing that bugs me about it is how did Emily Blunt's character know about loopers. It's a minor plot hole, but it still took me out of the movie for a few minutes.

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    • She explains how she gave up Cid as she was too much of a party girl and from what we can tell in the first half of the movie is that loopers love to party. It also explains how she knew he was withdrawing from the eye dropper drugs.

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      • I had the same complaint until my wife pointed out the party girl thing. They seem to run in the same circles.

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  7. Cheer up Bruce Willis! The odds of Ben Savage finding employment in a full-length feature approach zero!

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  8. It was said, not by me originally, but Looper and 12 Monkeys now officially make it mandatory that all GOOD movies with Time Travel in their plot MUST include Bruce Willis. Please inform the people claiming to revive Bill & Ted… it's Bill & Ted & Bruce now.

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    • Bruce is going to be playing the younger version of George Carlin's character. They are already working on the makeup.

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  9. I loved the scene where Young Joe starts to talk about Time Travel Bullshit, then Old Joe just cuts him off and they never get into trying to explain it.

    Made for a much more entertaining movie than if they'd tried to explain everything.

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    • I also thought the particular brand of causality in this film (the limbs, the memories, etc) hasnt really been tackled in that way in a movie before. It was refreshing.

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  10. I thought the kid was fantastic, in the "power" moments as well as the character bits with Joe. The two Joe's in the diner was very well done as well. The time travel stuff you just have to accept – in this world, these are the rules. Move on to the actual story. I liked how it showed what the future is like without explaining it, mainly the shortage of oil (guessing what is left is really expensive now) and solutions to that problem being patchy solar panels everywhere.

    The one bit that did confuse me was the way it went back a bit to start Joe's progression into old Joe, if you know what I mean but the link provided by Joel up there does help explain the decision behind that.

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    • Yeah, I thought it was pulling a groundhog day instead of a flashback at that point, then I caught on.

      I think of the various holes I saw 95% are "it's a time travel movie. If it's not Oedipus Rex, there will be holes." The 20th is "wait, why'd the truck flip engine over trunk from a single gunshot?" It was going solid, then that one flip just drew me completely out of the action because it was so ludicrous.

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      • SPOILERS If you're talking about the one at the end where Bruce willis shoots at the truck with the lady and the kid, I think the kid flipped the truck over with his psi powers, not the gunshot. END SPOILERS

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        • It was definitely the kid, because he apologises immediately after (while they're still in the car).

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      • I thought the same thing. I thought we were seeing a NEW time stream instead of the same one from a different perspective.

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  11. Hopefully going to see Looper this weekend. Favorite standalone movies? Princess Bride, Big Trouble in Little China, and Time Bandits. Could also say Buckaroo Banzai but the intent was to have a franchise.

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    • I hate to say this, while I agree with you on your selections there, Time Bandits is not standalone…

      Believe it or not, Time bandits is actually part of a hidden trilogy. You can ask Terry Gilliam!

      Time Bandits
      The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
      Brazil

      I know, ridiculous sounding, but its true I swear!!!

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    • Princess Bride is fantastic. I'd add, in similar genres and all around the same time period (it was really cool for fantasy in the mid-Eighties) Ladyhawke, Labyrinth, and Legend. And Willow, too, I suppose, because we can never have too many Eighties fantasy movies. Oh, and the Dark Crystal, although I don't watch that one too often because despite being a big fan of The Walking Dead, my kid is terrified of that show. And also the goblins in Labyrinth. Heh. Muppets > zombies. Lolll…

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  12. I really enjoyed the movie, even though the time travel did make my brain go sad. But yeah, great performances especially from Emily Blunt.

    Also, I htink my favorite stand alone sci-fi movie is Moon. Just absolutely fascinating and Sam Rockwell is at his best.

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    • Moon was just terrific. Not sure if I could watch it twice, but it was great.

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  13. If you haven't seen Time Crimes, I highly recommend it. It's a foreign film, also on time travel, but the time travel is so tight with everything just fitting into place, it's one of the best uses of time travel ever and it's a great thriller.

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  14. I haven't seen it yet but looking forward to it. I heart time travel stories and 12 Monkeys is my favourite film of all time. Another Bruce Willis time travel story… awesome! Hopefully it won't disappoint.

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    • I have always felt that 12 Monkeys is half of Brad Pitt's best work.
      I've always kinda thought Tyler Durden was actually Brad Pitt's character from 12 Monkeys, just a little older. Regardless of what the story of Fight Club tells me to believe.

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  15. I really liked Solaris (the original two-VHS-long Russian version). Thought-provoking, at times darkly humorous.

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    • The George Clooney remake was the most god-awful pile of shit I've ever come across. I took my then-girlfriend (now wife) to it and she has never let me forget it. I had thought a SF film with Clooney? Everyone wins! SF for me, eye candy for her! Little did I know how mind-fuckingly dull and pointless the film was. Arghhh! Just the memory of it makes me want to punch the cat.

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  16. like the original terminator, and to a lesser extent terminator 2, and let's pretend t3 never happened, and then kiiiiiinda sorta salvation (only they forgot the lasers)

    but honestly, i think the original terminator coulda been a one off

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  17. Bruce Willis kind of looks like Sen. John McCain. But since he plays John McClain I'm OK with this.

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  18. Cid reminded me of a younger Tetsuo from Akira.But the sacrifice of young joe erked me for some reason…not for what he did,but the cause and effect aspect of time travel….or I might be just over thinking it too much.

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  19. I'm wondering if the Rainmaker was really such a bad guy. Yes, his methods are extreme, but all we hear about him doing in the future is eliminating crime syndicates and getting rid of their professional killers. Maybe if you're not a criminal (or closely associated with one) he's actually working on improving things.

    I'm also wondering what happened that caused Pepsi to keep the same logo for more than 30 years, but I guess not everything can be as plausible as time travel.

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    • To be fair, Coca Cola's has barely changed in over a hundred years. But, yeah, Pepsi does like to update theirs kind of more often, don't they? Maybe it's actually a retro look for them? The one guy was talking about late 20th century things like ties being back in style briefly. So probably Pepsi's logo changed a bunch between now and then, and then they changed it again to catch the latest fad.

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  20. I had one major gripe with the movie, and it came from the very end.

    SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
    Just exactly how could Young Joe have been doing the end scene narration, under the circumstances?
    END SPOILERS! END SPOILERS! END SPOILERS! END SPOILERS! END SPOILERS!

    Just doesn't make sense.

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  21. I find it strange that I seem to be in a minority of people in that I rather hated Looper. There were too many genres and it failed to do any of them well: it was a bad noir film, a dumb sci-fi film, a terrible time travel, and an irritating Cronenburg-wannabe horror film. There were a couple of good lines, but the second half of the film felt so inordinately plodding that I spent most of the movie wishing I had just watched 12 Monkeys again…

    Now, I am a huge fan of time travel stories and can be extremely forgiving, but Looper felt like it absolutely wasn’t even trying: it possibly the worst time travel film to date… For me, I saw Jeff Daniel’s entire character as one enormous plot hole by himself before getting into any of the other issues with its failed time travel “rules”.

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  22. entertaining, but the time travel wasn't well executed.

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