Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Einstein’s God Model: The Physics of the Afterlife
turns out mad scientist movies had it all wrong. It is physicists not
biologists who will unlock the secrets of the afterlife. Technically, they will
not cheat death, because there is no death—just different membranes of
existence. It might sound exciting, but there will be a cautionary note
supplied by none other than Albert Einstein. Superstring Theory and M-Theory
will get radical new science fiction applications in director-screenwriter
Philip T. Johnson’s Einstein’s God Model (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in Los Angeles.
from the death of his (hoped to be) fiancée, Brayden Taylor latches on to something
a colleague told him about Ketamine use in some sort of near death experiment.
Unfortunately, Dr. Carl Meiselhoff, the physicist running the studies has
recently passed away. However, his widow is willing to let Taylor take all his
weird looking analog gear. That would be the God Model Project, a shadowy
venture apostolically linked to Thomas Edison.
is not prepared for his solo test drive through parallel membranes, but Meiselhoff’s
former protégé Louis Mastenbrook [PhD] detects the disturbance in the Force
just in time. He is a cold fish, but at least he understands the physics. He
also has some bitter personal history with Craig Leeham, one of Meiselhoff’s
former test subjects, who has reinvented himself as an Evangelical Christian psychic
after a session in the God Model helmet left him blind, but partially able to
see into alternate membranes. Leeham has no affection for Mastenbrook, but he
has his own reasons for joining their efforts.
generally have to respect a film that name checks Niels Bohr, Edward Witten,
and Nikola Tesla, but creating an entirely convincing Einstein lecture for its
own purposes is truly impressive. Johnson is probably glossing over volumes of
contradictory theory, but he gives viewers enough detail and grounding to make
the quantum physics (and metaphysics) of EGM
feel completely real. Granted, there are also religious implications to the God
Model Project, which Johnson acknowledges, but diplomatically opts not to dwell
upon. Ironically, his only mistake comes in incorporating too many special
effects. Arguably, this is a case where we would intellectually engage more, if
we saw less.
the ambition of EGM is quite laudable
and Johnson’s screenplay hangs together with greater consistency than many less
complex, theoretically-informed genre films. In selling the film’s concepts, Kenneth
Hughes and Darryl Warren also help tremendously with their authoritative
performances as Mastenbrook and Meiselhoff, respectively. In contrast, Aaron
Graham is achingly earnest but somewhat awkward on-screen as the bereaved
Taylor. However, Andy Hannon gives the film a humane anchor as Taylor’s
disbelieving colleague Devin and Brad Norman’s Leeham makes quite an intriguing
opening credits might be the best of the year.
They reflect the film’s smart, big picture, quantum sensibility. It is exactly
the kind of science fiction film that deserves support when it opens this
Friday (8/19) in Los Angeles, at the Arena Cinema.
Labels: Sci-Fi films