“Another Earth” (2011) Trailer: Plot Fail

Another Earth recently released its movie trailer after doing well at the Sundance Film Festival. From the title of the film, you can gather it has to do with another planet earth and the implications which ensue. That being said, the Facebook page for Another Earth outlines the story as:

Rhoda Williams, a bright young woman accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. A brilliant composer, John Burroughs, has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child with his loving wife. On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined. Estranged from the world and the selves they once knew, the two outsiders begin an unlikely love affair and reawaken to life. But when one is presented with the chance of a lifetime opportunity to travel to the other Earth and embrace an alternative reality, which new life will they choose?

The stars of the film are newcomer Brit Marling, who was also a writer for the movie, and William Mapother, who you may recognize as Ethan from Lost. There is a lot of hype around the movie right now, and because it was on the IMDb homepage, I watched the trailer, and at first glance it seems pretty solid. Now, before I give my take on the trailer, if you’ve yet to see it, I’ve included it below.

Now after watching that, you may have been swept away by the concept of another you and another world altogether. I know that the first time I watched the trailer, I wondered what the “other me” would be like, how he would look and act and everything. After that wore off, I watched the trailer again and realized that there are likely huge plot holes.

I’m going to ignore the entire concept of a planet, identical to our own, appearing in our solar system within human sight. They could address that with some kind of sci-fi line very easily. Next, there is life on this other planet earth advanced enough to communicate with us through space. But they don’t stop there, they go on to say there is “another you” on that planet, and that is where the entire story will likely fall apart. Given the millions of years that the planet was in existence and the limitless decisions that people have made, the forces which acted upon them, and the random events that cause countless chains of events each day, there is no chance of there being another version of “you” on that planet. The possibilities are literally infinite. That planet could have entirely different life forms. Dinosaurs may not have gone extinct from a massive asteroid, there may not have been an Ice Age–your imagination can run wild with the various events that could or could not have happened. Even if humans became the dominant species, there could be entirely different countries and cultures. There is zero chance of there being a different you that made different decisions. I’m not even sure how they can, or if they do, rectify such an obscene notion.

What is somewhat disheartening, is I would not be surprised if they expected you to just “go with it.” Because it is an independent film, I don’t expect them to focus much on the actual science fiction. I know I’m generalizing, but most independent films are character studies that try to analyze or make some point about society. The general public isn’t interested in watching those kinds of movies. Sony Pictures spent more than $70 million on Battle: Los Angeles but an independent production company picked up Another Earth. If Another Earth was something that mainstream moviegoers would enjoy, it would have been produced by a major production company.

Getting back to the trailer, it’s incredibly clear that Rhoda gets into an accident with John, and kills his wife, unborn child, and possibly his son. Whether she was drunk, or distracted, or whatever is unclear, but she apparently flees the scene, or at least never meets the man she made into a widower as the person responsible for the accident. She then is unable to tell him that she is the one who ruined his life and ends up having a romantic relationship with him? But then struggles with the relationship and the guilt with what she did. She clearly wins a trip to the other earth, and we are left to wonder what she will do.

That’s not really a movie I want to see. In the trailer Brita Marling says it’s “about a girl”, “and her issues” is left out. It is clear that this is not at all the sci-fi movie the title would lead many to believe. While I doubt I will see this in theaters, critics and user may very well sway me. Looking at the YouTube stats for the trailer above, it has been viewed just under 100,000 times and 96% of the 700 people who voted, voted thumbs up. At the same time, on IMDb, the movie currently has a 6.3/10 based on just over 100 votes–presumably from those who saw it at the Sundance Film Festival. In the end, I don’t think that this film will have any kind of mass market appeal and believe that those who see it not knowing exactly what they are getting into will leave very disappointed. The film is set to release July 20th,a poor time-slot given it will almost certainly be obscured by the releases of Captain America:The First Avenger  and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2. Whether or not it deserves to be overshadowed by blockbusters and the like remains to be seen.

6 Responses to ““Another Earth” (2011) Trailer: Plot Fail”
  1. Gotham says:

    So aside from the plot failure you pointed out, I just have to say, how in the world is Another Earth different from an alternate reality?! It sounds exactly like the same thing except that you can, I guess, see this alternate reality as opposed to going through some other sci-fi device like time-warp or universe-jumping. Your point about independent movies being mostly character-driven plots is totally agreed upon on my part. I honestly would’ve loved to see this as a big budget movie about actually discovering another Earth, and not one where another one of us exists! We’ve already got Fringe for that.

    • D King says:

      It is an alternate reality, only like you said it is one which coexists within our own reality. I was reading some reviews from people who saw the movie after I did this post, and it turns out the entire movie takes place on our earth. That is an instant buzz-kill in my mind. That removes much of the sci-fi aspect and completely confirms that it will be “about a girl” like I said above.
      I don’t know if you’re a fan of Fringe, but I really like what they did with the current season. It’s vastly superior to the previous season imo and I’m looking forward to finding out where it all goes.

      • Gotham says:

        I wouldn’t call myself a true fan of Fringe, more like an occasional viewer. But every time I do jump back in, it blows my mind straight out of my skull. Alternate reality travel, evil-character swapping, world-destroying machines – that’s the kind of thing I want to see when I hear “another Earth”, not a girl drama.
        “Buzz-kill” was the perfect term.

  2. Hero says:

    I dont believe the movie is intended to be a science fiction fixated movie about another Earth. It is using the sci-fi possibility of Another Earth to set off the exploration of a troubled and traumatized girl. Perhaps if one does not go see the movie with the intention and anticipation of seeing an intriguing and unique movie about this other Earth, people will be able to enjoy the higher concepts and vicissitudes of society, humanity and the protagonist. I myself truly hope to have it focus on the girl instead. But no matter what your opinion on the movie is, I do agree with you that it will probably be overshadowed by HP and other big movies, though I really hope more people will see this movie!!!

    • D King says:

      Like I said in the post, the trailer says it is “about a girl”, so I doubt there will be much science fiction. But I would rather it was the opposite and that there was little drama and full character-driven plot. I think a sci-fi film with this idea could do very well.

  3. Garret says:

    At first I thought this was a pretty cool trailer, but after watching I agree with you. There are too many plot holes and I’m not really interested in watching a movie about a girl. The Sci-Fi aspect, if they did it properly, would be way more interesting. You made some good points. Cool looking site btw.

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