Monday, April 18, 2011
Serious Sci Fi: The One
Modern audiences have very little problem with some version of multiverse theory, which teaches that there are a variety of different universes where the world has changed because someone somewhere made a different decision. Sometimes this is the result of time travel and past intervention (Star Trek) and sometimes the different decision merely creates a tangent universe that cannot be sustained for long (Donnie Darko), but sometimes the universes have presumably always existed (Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy) and the multiverse is either infinite (Sliders) or finite (the DC multiverse is comprised of 52 universes). My point is that your ordinary, everyday citizen of the USA is likely to seriously consider that we live in a universe that is part of a multiverse. Maybe this same citizen believes that there is a nexus of all universes, a place that connects one universe to the next (The Dark Tower series, Captain Britain). As a result, audiences might even take the premise of The One seriously.
This leaves us with a universe where everyone is born and dies at different times. For the sake of simplicity, however, let us line up every birth on a number line; let us assume, for this argument, that every version of an individual is actually born at the same time. According to a bell curve, a few will die far too early, and their power will, almost immediately, disperse to the others, and then much later they will start dying out more consistently. Even if we let each individual die naturally, which is a stretch, there will necessarily be one who dies last. Retirement homes would be packed with superhumans, and if the elderly wished to leave they could easily overpower their captors. Armies wouldn't employ the young anymore. After all, one seventy-year-old could potentially overpower an entire platoon of eighteen-year-olds. The oldest individuals would rule the world, not because of respect or experience, but because nobody could defeat them. Because we do not witness these things, the science behind The One seems to be lacking.
Even putting aside the difficulties of travel between universes in the multiverse, The One simply seems a little too far-fetched to be considered serious science fiction. Of course, that doesn't make the film any less interesting. As you can probably tell, I found Jet Li's The One incredibly interesting. The One is at least interesting enough to give rise to the preceding essay, and that's more than I can say for a lot of movies!