Tenet

Tenet ★★★

Nolan's Final Fantasy VIII, in that your whole opinion hinges on whether you accept the contentious fan theory Rinoa = Ultimecia. For the uninitiated, you just need to know two things. First is that the plot of VIII revolves around a lot of predetermination-style time travel and a sorceress from the future who wants to compress time into a singularity (i.e. the exact plot of Tenet). And two, that the two main female characters of the game, one from the present, one from the future, are pretty flat and questionably written--but this is solved by the R=U theory by claiming that one is just a far future self of the other and allowing their half-characters to reflect back on themselves. Note: although we can speculate that R=U may have been an intended takeaway of the story at some point in development, the finished product contains no firm indications that the two characters are the same. Although we can speculate this concept may have been explored in earlier drafts, the finished work provides no obvious or intended indications--but nearly all of the story's themes are improved for believing it.

Regarding the second parallel, Kat is an almost comically flat character who constantly threatens the fate of the world with her single-minded obsession over her son. This contrived, soulless mother-mongering is cinematic dead weight, unless you subscribe to the Neil = Max theory, whereby she is transformed into a savior of young Neil for the sake of existence. N=M arguably brings everything full circle and bookends Tenet with Neil's entire career, perhaps even showing how his mother started his path toward Tenet on the same day he died. That is an extremely elegant interpretation which we have virtually no evidence to believe was intended by Nolan, but the film is vastly improved by such a small concession.

Regarding the first parellel, Clemence Poesy is absolutely the sorceress who came up with the algorithm in the future. Clemence Poesy = Ultimecia.

And yes, I am absolutely making excuses for Christopher Nolan's inability to write self-realized female characters. But even a mediocre Nolan time puzzle is more socially justifiable than far emptier and equally chauvinist blockbusters. So, in conclusion, Final Fantasy VIII is better than VII.

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