Primer

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 121 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 93 out of 121
  2. Negative: 13 out of 121

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User Reviews

  1. ShawnO.
    Aug 9, 2005
    8
    About a year ago I saw 20 minutes of this film online and wanted desperately to see it and then I completely forgot about it until I saw it sitting on the rack at Hollywood Video and again I was very excited to watch it. I've realized something: I really like Independent FIlms. Primer is a great science fiction movie in the truest sense of sci-fi being fiction based upon actual About a year ago I saw 20 minutes of this film online and wanted desperately to see it and then I completely forgot about it until I saw it sitting on the rack at Hollywood Video and again I was very excited to watch it. I've realized something: I really like Independent FIlms. Primer is a great science fiction movie in the truest sense of sci-fi being fiction based upon actual science. Anyone panning this movie just doesn't get it. I will grant you that the techno-babble in this flick is way over the top and more confusing than the dialogue of an episode of 'Deadwood' or the thick brogue in 'Trainspotting' but if you give it time it will come together and your mind will filter out what it needs to. I'm personally going to watch this at least 3 more times, once without commentaries and twice with just so I can try to piece this whole movie together. This film can be very confusing (including the twists) but it is creepy, incredibly exciting, realistic and like all good sci-fi has a strong moral message in the end. I would have given this film a 10 if i didn't think it was kind of overloaded with the technical jargon. Expand
  2. Mar 19, 2012
    6
    Although I feel the movie is rather confusing and unclear at times, overall it was still a pretty decent film. It didn't waste much time to watch and for how little of a budget the film had to spend I can't help but feel impressed by the film. The filmography of the film was great quality, and the acting was as well. Story issues aside, the rest of the film was quite impressive. I don'tAlthough I feel the movie is rather confusing and unclear at times, overall it was still a pretty decent film. It didn't waste much time to watch and for how little of a budget the film had to spend I can't help but feel impressed by the film. The filmography of the film was great quality, and the acting was as well. Story issues aside, the rest of the film was quite impressive. I don't know if I can really say I would recommend this film to most viewers other than general film enthusiasts of a particular kind. Personally, I'm glad I took the time out of my day to view the film, but I have a feeling most audiences will either be bored, confused, or both. For my full review, visit http://visuallyimpairedreviews.blogspot.com/2012/03/primer.html Expand
  3. Aug 10, 2014
    6
    I usually pay attention to details while watching a movie and am able to conclude the story at the end, but Primer is impossibly hard to follow. I could figure out what was going on only after reading a huge explanation article. The story is really complex as it is based on time travels, but I repeat myself, you probably won't dig it if you just watch the movie once. The other problem isI usually pay attention to details while watching a movie and am able to conclude the story at the end, but Primer is impossibly hard to follow. I could figure out what was going on only after reading a huge explanation article. The story is really complex as it is based on time travels, but I repeat myself, you probably won't dig it if you just watch the movie once. The other problem is Primer is really boring, most of the time nothing happens, the characters seem to take their discovery pretty casually. I respect that most of the work was made by one man, but still it could be much better. Expand
  4. Ozy
    Apr 18, 2016
    4
    I could not, for the love of life, understand what was being talked about in the first 20 mins of this movie. The rest of the film was also as confusing, and i kept thinking whether or not i missed something important in the opening scenes. Then, as if i missed the whole plot - i could not understand what happened in the end? So, i had to read about it somewhere. Yes, it was a fantasticI could not, for the love of life, understand what was being talked about in the first 20 mins of this movie. The rest of the film was also as confusing, and i kept thinking whether or not i missed something important in the opening scenes. Then, as if i missed the whole plot - i could not understand what happened in the end? So, i had to read about it somewhere. Yes, it was a fantastic plot, but executed badly. Which is a shame as the two main actors weren't that bad, the script was just too hard to follow. Expand
  5. Aug 27, 2010
    10
    A minor miracle of a film, this movie manages to pull off everything a major motion picture should have (great scripting, amazing acting, drama, etc.) with a mere budget of ~$7,000. It's simultaneously captivating, confusing, frustrating, and in the end, completely gratifying - even if you can't put all the pieces together on the first viewing. I already can't wait to watch it again.
  6. May 18, 2013
    7
    An independent film full of nice ideas but maybe without the budget to fully realise some of their potential. Nicely scripted, although I did find it a little too ‘wordy’ in places. Performance wise; both Shane Carruth and David Sullivan did an excellent job. The film hangs on these two characters and I thought they both pulled it off to an excellent standard! I found the film quiteAn independent film full of nice ideas but maybe without the budget to fully realise some of their potential. Nicely scripted, although I did find it a little too ‘wordy’ in places. Performance wise; both Shane Carruth and David Sullivan did an excellent job. The film hangs on these two characters and I thought they both pulled it off to an excellent standard! I found the film quite absorbing at first; there’s enough mystery there and I know enough about engineering for it to keep my interest. It did, however, become a little wearing towards the end, I think because the film relies so much on the dialogue between Aaron and Abe to tell the story and there is so much to take in that I found I was in ‘dialogue overload’ by the end. I think I’ll probably have to watch it again sometime to fully appreciate it, but well worth a look; it’s an interesting take on the time travel theme.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.1/10
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  7. Printninja
    Dec 1, 2005
    0
    This is one of those movies that has you wondering why... Why would anyone bother to make it? Why would anyone be interested in putting a thoroughly uninteresting story on screen? Why did it receive such positive critical review? It was also one of those movies that you just keep watching, minute after excruciating minute, in the desperate hope that something, anything, remotely This is one of those movies that has you wondering why... Why would anyone bother to make it? Why would anyone be interested in putting a thoroughly uninteresting story on screen? Why did it receive such positive critical review? It was also one of those movies that you just keep watching, minute after excruciating minute, in the desperate hope that something, anything, remotely interesting (or merely comprehensible) will happen. This movie made me feel like I was watching the dramatic version of Revenge of the Nerds. I watched the entire thing without ever once wanting to. Now that's some sweet revenge, but did I deserve it? For the record, I am a technophile, with a pretty good understanding of "geek speak", and I still couldn't get the jist of this train wreck. Another movie made to appeal primarily to the filmakers, and the .00001% of the population who understood whatever the heck it was they were trying to say. In a word, Exasperating. (also, why did they choose to call it Primer? Makes about as little sense as the movie.) Expand
  8. JamesQ.
    Apr 29, 2005
    1
    The most illogical movie I've ever seen in my life.
  9. GordonS.
    Jun 3, 2005
    0
    As a retired engineer with a lifelong interest in physics and metaphysics this so-called movie really was disappointing. This movie made "Blair Witch" look like an Academy Award winner.
  10. CoinneB.
    Mar 13, 2006
    3
    The Blair Witch of science fiction. A celebration of poor professional standards, wrapped in mystifiyng techno-babble and saying very little about anything much. Very disappointing, alhough something about it says it could have been OK-ish. Maybe if the soundtrack wasn't so fuzzy and they had used a tripod now and then? Anyway, I am tired of this "made on a low budget with credit The Blair Witch of science fiction. A celebration of poor professional standards, wrapped in mystifiyng techno-babble and saying very little about anything much. Very disappointing, alhough something about it says it could have been OK-ish. Maybe if the soundtrack wasn't so fuzzy and they had used a tripod now and then? Anyway, I am tired of this "made on a low budget with credit cards" drivel. It was never true. Not in the 1980s, not now. Expand
  11. JacobF.
    Jun 24, 2005
    1
    None of it ever made sense. It was boring. One of the worst movies I have ever seen.
  12. ScottY.
    Jul 15, 2005
    4
    This is not fun movie watching. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, there is no sub-plot, all we are left with is their techo-speak. Sure, it is refreshing to see a movie made for $7,000 and have no distractions that typical sci-fi movies have, such as special effects. But when most of the positive reviews tell me I have to see it multiple times to understand it, then it just This is not fun movie watching. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, there is no sub-plot, all we are left with is their techo-speak. Sure, it is refreshing to see a movie made for $7,000 and have no distractions that typical sci-fi movies have, such as special effects. But when most of the positive reviews tell me I have to see it multiple times to understand it, then it just isn't worth a high review. I want to cash out on the couch with a good sci-fi movie and I'm not against a plot twist or complex plot. However, this was just plain too much work in order to really enjoy watching this movie. Expand
  13. Feb 11, 2013
    8
    Low budget for sure, but they do a great job with it. Creepy, compelling, confusing and paranoiac, a good little movie. Will appeal to fans of Phillip K Dick I imagine. I liked it a lot, the plot I think deliberately confusing and hard to follow, and it works well. That is the nature of time travel I guess, to the rest of us trapped in linear causality type existences.
  14. Jun 22, 2011
    10
    (10.0) Awesome. The best Sci-fi serious in this century. How can you make a great movie with great head and a tight budget.
    Escuchar Waiting eagerly to the new work from me, since I saw this movie, new idol.
  15. Jan 25, 2012
    8
    Unsensational, clever, quietly scary, confusing sci fi with good acting to boot. I can't believe they made this film for $7000. I really liked the direction too.
  16. Jan 26, 2013
    1
    I would echo Printninja's review, but I'm so frustrated that I actually paid money to rent this movie I feel the need to put that dissatisfaction into my own words. From the minute this festering turd of a film starts, one is subjected to a scene with uninitiated characters spouting overly-complex dialogue that makes zero sense to the layperson. Or maybe the biggest problem was thatI would echo Printninja's review, but I'm so frustrated that I actually paid money to rent this movie I feel the need to put that dissatisfaction into my own words. From the minute this festering turd of a film starts, one is subjected to a scene with uninitiated characters spouting overly-complex dialogue that makes zero sense to the layperson. Or maybe the biggest problem was that there was nothing remotely interesting about the story, or any of the characters for that matter, that made me CARE to figure out what they were trying to accomplish. They're computer nerds tinkering in the garage, seemingly trying to come up with some new product to make money. And they accomplish this by constantly, without respite, speaking technical jargon that won't make sense to anyone short of Physics PhDs, experienced Engineers, or Computer Science geniuses. Does that sound like an interesting plot? If so, go for it. But don't say you weren't warned. Expand
  17. Jan 24, 2014
    8
    In today’s day and age, we throw around the phrase “mind-blowing” a lot (Cracked.com probably published three articles this morning that contain the phrase…the other articles are insinuating that you don’t know anything). However, I have to say that “Primer” is as close to a real life instance of my mind actually exploding! The way this film handled time travel came off frighteninglyIn today’s day and age, we throw around the phrase “mind-blowing” a lot (Cracked.com probably published three articles this morning that contain the phrase…the other articles are insinuating that you don’t know anything). However, I have to say that “Primer” is as close to a real life instance of my mind actually exploding! The way this film handled time travel came off frighteningly realistic and, if it wasn’t for the below average acting, you could easily think it was a documentary on the discovery of time travel. Even though the acting isn’t great, the film delivers an incredibly intelligent script that actually challenges the viewer and is, quite possibly, the smartest, most realistic, science fiction film I have ever seen. Expand
  18. Aug 12, 2015
    10
    Primer is one of those movies that you should never watch once, as I fear a confused moviegoer will not understand the movie for their first time viewing, but maybe they may understand it a little bit on the second viewing. If not the second time maybe the third time. If you still don't get then well keep watching, because you might have missed something that's rather brilliant. That'sPrimer is one of those movies that you should never watch once, as I fear a confused moviegoer will not understand the movie for their first time viewing, but maybe they may understand it a little bit on the second viewing. If not the second time maybe the third time. If you still don't get then well keep watching, because you might have missed something that's rather brilliant. That's basically what I did when I first watch this movie as I felt that I came across something unique and something worth talking about. It's a bit like when Roger Ebert first came across 2001: A Space Odyssey and he felt like he came across something that's worth talking about and worth sharing.

    Primer in my opinion is one of the most intelligent and probably the best movie I've seen in years. This isn't the kind of movie where you sit back and turn off your brain, because you're not going to enjoy the experience as you don't understand what's going on and you will leave the movie feeling confused. I won't lie I watch the movie five times to gaps on whats going on and thank god I did because more and more I watch the movie, more I understand it and love it. Primer is worth checking out.
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  19. KenK.
    May 4, 2005
    9
    A very intersting, albeit sometimes confusing, science fiction film.
  20. BrianS.
    Jan 26, 2006
    10
    The best film of 2005. Probably the best sci-fi film of all time. Confusing at times, but that's what re-viewing is for and this movie demands it. Give it time to unfold and let it blow you away.
  21. VinceH.
    Oct 22, 2004
    9
    I had read a lot of film journals and press on this film ever since its premiere at Sundance in March or whenever, and had been highly anticipating it ever since. The reviews certainly did the film justice. This is the most maddening, incomprehensible and brilliant movie since the great year 2001 which gave us Donnie Darko, Memento, and Mulholland Drive. Oh, and this film makes those as I had read a lot of film journals and press on this film ever since its premiere at Sundance in March or whenever, and had been highly anticipating it ever since. The reviews certainly did the film justice. This is the most maddening, incomprehensible and brilliant movie since the great year 2001 which gave us Donnie Darko, Memento, and Mulholland Drive. Oh, and this film makes those as easy to understand as a Hilary Duff movie. Usually when people say you have to see a movie twice to "get it", they usually are being facetious. Primer actually DEMANDS a second viewing and even if playing close attention the film deliberitately plays with plot and chronology by using elliptical editing that jumps all over the place and re-plays certain scenes and moments wrapped up in other scenes that are then wrapped up in a different scene, i.e. you get the point. It is hard to tell when certain scenes end and begin and which characters are talking to others and in what time. All this sounds like crap now but those who have seen the film can relate. I can just imagine chat room and message board geeks analyzing and deconstructing every second of this film a la Donnie & Mulholland. Also, a little clue to help you figure out things in the end: Pay very close attention to when phones ring and who is calling... Expand
  22. PeteM.
    Jun 9, 2006
    4
    Unfortunately it does fail. its all mind bending but not fascinating because there just isn't enough clarity and stability about whats going on. Both the action in almost any given scene and the voice overs are opaque and unresolved. such an (apparently) sophisticated story needs a first rate director and screen writer to be comunicated adequately.
  23. MarilynW.
    Oct 12, 2004
    10
    With a limited budget, the cast and crew did a excelent job with what they had to work with. Had they had the extra money...you would be highly impressed. I think David Sullivan carried the movie the way that Shane Caruth wanted it portrayed. Congratulations all who had a hand in making this movie...it kept my interest and it made me pay attention to the detail, and ask questions and make With a limited budget, the cast and crew did a excelent job with what they had to work with. Had they had the extra money...you would be highly impressed. I think David Sullivan carried the movie the way that Shane Caruth wanted it portrayed. Congratulations all who had a hand in making this movie...it kept my interest and it made me pay attention to the detail, and ask questions and make me want to watch it again to answer those questions. Expand
  24. ChadS.
    Oct 18, 2005
    7
    "Primer" grows increasingly incomprehensible towards the end, so there's really no payoff to the first time we see one of the characters witnessing his double through his binoculars. But still, it's a kick to see a genuine independent film mostly transcend its shoestring budget with smart, albeit colorless dialogue, that doesn't dumb down the genre of science fiction like "Primer" grows increasingly incomprehensible towards the end, so there's really no payoff to the first time we see one of the characters witnessing his double through his binoculars. But still, it's a kick to see a genuine independent film mostly transcend its shoestring budget with smart, albeit colorless dialogue, that doesn't dumb down the genre of science fiction like so many of its predecessors. "Primer" works a filmic primer for people who think science fiction is all about spectacle. It's all about the box. The filmmaker probably didn't have the money to waste film on any filler like romantic subplots and government intervention. Expand
  25. Leo
    May 16, 2005
    8
    Wonderfully made... although it is very confusing most of the time. I actually think I need to see it again just to fully grasp the idea of this film.
  26. charlesc
    May 28, 2005
    10
    This movie takes some work on the part of the viewer to appreciate it. Here is one hint: there is more than one Abe and Aaron traveling in time. The movie is a study of the interaction between two nerdy guys who get into a project over their heads, but the story itself is a puzzle that must be figured out. Ingenious! And to all those aspiring critics out there: do not even think about This movie takes some work on the part of the viewer to appreciate it. Here is one hint: there is more than one Abe and Aaron traveling in time. The movie is a study of the interaction between two nerdy guys who get into a project over their heads, but the story itself is a puzzle that must be figured out. Ingenious! And to all those aspiring critics out there: do not even think about reviewing or critiquing this movie without giving it at least several viewings. Expand
  27. WilliamG.
    Jun 1, 2005
    8
    Made for a mere $7000, PRIMER travels back through time to when science-fiction made the viewer think. By working with the time-travel principle and losing any distracting special effects, the plot is all that matters, and it soon becomes a nearly-indicipherable puzzle. Star/writer/director Shane Carruth has even admitted that he hasn't figured the entire thing out yet. For being Made for a mere $7000, PRIMER travels back through time to when science-fiction made the viewer think. By working with the time-travel principle and losing any distracting special effects, the plot is all that matters, and it soon becomes a nearly-indicipherable puzzle. Star/writer/director Shane Carruth has even admitted that he hasn't figured the entire thing out yet. For being short and cheap, PRIMER manages to provide a buffet of food for thought, and in this day and age, that's priceless. Expand
  28. DavidK.
    Oct 10, 2006
    10
    Primer is a brilliant cinematic science fiction thriller! Unfortunately for the non-science enthusiast, the screenplay dialogue is absolutely overrun with swift moving unexplained techno-jargon that may unintentionally frustrate those viewers to the point of disappointment as they find themselves getting more and more lost between plot lines. But for everyone else, this spellbinding Primer is a brilliant cinematic science fiction thriller! Unfortunately for the non-science enthusiast, the screenplay dialogue is absolutely overrun with swift moving unexplained techno-jargon that may unintentionally frustrate those viewers to the point of disappointment as they find themselves getting more and more lost between plot lines. But for everyone else, this spellbinding sci-fi mystery thriller is a terrific must see film! It is a complete success, and an incredible achievement by both Shane Carruth and David Sullivan. Expand
  29. Susi
    Jul 19, 2006
    8
    Fantastic and demanding. Really enjoyed the visual framing and the very bald acting style/non-style. Even the storytelling, despite the frustrations with audibility and narrative patchiness. Thanks for a film so devoid of sentiment and so full of ideas. Not for everyone, but nor is any film and it's great to see something that credits the audience with a bit of intelligence and a few Fantastic and demanding. Really enjoyed the visual framing and the very bald acting style/non-style. Even the storytelling, despite the frustrations with audibility and narrative patchiness. Thanks for a film so devoid of sentiment and so full of ideas. Not for everyone, but nor is any film and it's great to see something that credits the audience with a bit of intelligence and a few ideas themselves. I'll be looking for Caruth's next outing - and re-viewing this one while we wait Expand
  30. DavidH.
    Sep 24, 2006
    10
    A modern-day masterpiece. The further the film progresses, the more fascinating and innovative it becomes. The this is the first feature film Carruth managed to make, lets hope it isn't the last.
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
  1. The movie may be too precious for mass consumption, but its filmmakers' willingness to assume the best of their audience, combined with its Everyman origins, suggest a movie that deserves a chance.
  2. 90
    A half-baked conspiracy subplot in the last third makes Carruth's knotty narrative even harder to follow, but this is still scary, puzzling, and different.
  3. 88
    It is maddening, fascinating and completely successful.