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'11 A.M.' review: Generic time travel for dummies

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11 A.M.

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"11 A.M" was released in Los Angeles on November 29, 2013. The film currently has no US release; theatrical, on demand, DVD, Blu-ray, or otherwise.

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A physicist named Woo-seok (Jung Jae-young) is driven by grief after his wife dies and works on making his life's work, a time machine, come to fruition. That dream becomes a reality three years later when Woo-seok is able to create a worm hole inside of a black hole in a laboratory built underwater. Woo-seok's work is dubbed the Trotsky project, but unfortunately is only capable of sending a person 24 hours into the future. The financial backers of the project require some sort of proof that Woo-seok and his team can actually jump forward in time in order to keep their funding. Woo-seok brings Young-eun (Kim Ok-bin) along with him. Their time jump is a success and they arrive at 11 A.M. the following morning, but the lab is in ruins and there doesn't seem to be any survivors. What could possibly happen in the next 24 hours that would cause this much devastation?

Time travel is always a tricky subject when it comes to film. There's always a chance that it could become a classic like "Terminator 2" or "Back to the Future," but it usually ends up being extremely chaotic and sloppy like "Prince of Persia" or "The Jacket." "11 A.M." falls into the latter category and isn't necessarily a total waste of time, but is far from worthwhile. The science fiction thriller has an atmosphere similar to Danny Boyle's "Sunshine," in the sense that it's a team of scientists in a confined space setting off on this spectacular mission. Those feelings of claustrophobia and uncertainty are still there as characters in the film begin to lose their sanity thanks to the disastrous and uncontrollable events that take place. The concept is slightly intriguing when it's first introduced, but it doesn't take long for everything to feel familiar as if you've seen this all before.

After that sense of nostalgia wears off, there isn't much else to get excited about with "11 A.M." Something happens to Woo-seok in the future that is extremely predictable. Not only is it expected, but it's also incredibly cliche of the sci-fi genre. It's something that the film "Oblivion" made the same mistake of. Young-eun's encounter with the future leaves her unconscious. When she wakes up, she's wearing a pink turtleneck sweater for seemingly no other reason than the big reveal later on. Most of the cast seems to just be bait for other characters and it's extremely foreseeable early on.

Dialogue and story points don't add up either or are just so blatantly bland that it's sickening. While Moon (Lee Geon-joo) and Sook (Shin Da-eun) are discussing where they want to go on their vacation, Sook says that, "curiosity killed the cat." Woo-seok's work all revolves around the lost sock in the dryer concept of one sock traveling to an alternate dimension whenever someone does laundry. The time machine itself is shaped like a giant black soccer ball where up to two people can be inside and strapped in like a roller coaster. Its doors open up like a DeLorean. It gets some credit for being a unique design, but at the same time you're wondering why a giant black soccer ball is being kicked through time.

The message "11 A.M." attempts to portray is incredibly convoluted, as well. There's this underlying feeling of grief and depression around every corner in the film and fate is apparently inevitable despite what anyone says. The past can't be altered no matter what, but people can still run away from explosions in slow motion. When you consider that the characters break the one rule of time travel and everything goes wrong, then the haze isn't quite as thick. But by the time the film gets to that point and the realization sets in it all seems to be for nothing.

With all of its talk of being stuck in a constant loop forever, "11 A.M." is no "Looper" and it doesn't come close to the excellence that is "Timecrimes." "11 A.M." falls somewhere between being in "Men in Black 3" and "Timeline" territory. There's something to appreciate buried deep within the film somewhere like the concept or the overall vibe of the film, but nothing else is really able to come together since the special effects are either overdone or sloppily executed and the reasoning behind every character's actions seem juvenile or illogical. You've heard of a wrinkle in time, but "11 A.M." is more like the cellulite on that wrinkle in time piggybacking for your attention.

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