Review for Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
There’s nothing that makes me shudder more when it comes to entertainment than hyperbole. It’s part of the business of course, the curse of advertising, of getting bums on seats. But the more a film or show gets hyped, the greater that expectations are raised, and the more crushing the eventual disappointment. Decades of sequels and prequels, for franchises like Star Wars and The Matrix and countless others have made me distrustful of hype, and even when it’s word of mouth rather than a hefty marketing budget. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is surfing a wave of hype as it comes to the UK, with comparisons being drawn to One Cut of The Dead. One Cut of the Dead itself was hyped to the max when it was first released, and that hype juggernaut continues to this day. To my wholly pleasant surprise, One Cut of the Dead not only matched the hype, it exceeded it. And now Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is here, “A massive Japanese hit, acclaimed by ONE CUT OF THE DEAD director Shinichiro Ueda as a worthy successor to his continuous one-take sensation”. Surely lightning can’t strike twice, can it?
A cafe owner suddenly receives a message from himself on his bedroom monitor from two minutes in the future. Apparently it’s linked through time to the television screen downstairs in the cafe. It’s a curiosity that fascinates his friends, but when their ambitions predictably turn to profit, he realises that curiosity may prove fatal. And things get even more complicated when they realise that by placing the monitor opposite the television, they can access a time loop that stretches infinitely into the future.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese and with English subtitles. The image is clear and sharp, although digitally shot with the limitations of that format. The few darker scenes thus suffer from a lack of contrast, and overall there is a slight softness, but the film is more than watchable. The audio design is subtle but effective, and the subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos.
The disc boots to an animated menu.
You get the trailer, which lasts a finite 2 minutes.
The Director Junta Yamaguchi Interview lasts 14:07.
The Making Of lasts 18:28.
While the inclusion of these extras is great, I don’t want to know how this ingenious film was made. I want to watch the film a few more times and just enjoy the brilliance of it before I succumb to the ‘magician’s secrets’.
However the Howling – Short Film (10:52) is well worth a watch, a prototype for the main feature.
Google tells me that the odds of being struck by lightning twice are 9 million to 1. But what do I know? Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is brilliant, it’s engrossing, wholly entertaining, and utterly satisfying. It’s an inspired, original concoction that indeed does for independent sci-fi cinema what One Cut of the Dead did for independent horror. And thankfully, this time I can talk a little more about it without flirting with spoilers.
Time travel is hardly a novelty in sci-fi, and there are plenty of touchstones to reference. There are aspects of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes that may seem familiar, but the overall package is unlike anything I have seen before. The main character, cafe owner Kato accidentally discovers a cut-price form of time travel when he has a conversation with his future self on his computer monitor. His future self signs off by urging him to go downstairs to the television to have the same conversation from the other end. And we do indeed follow Kato downstairs to repeat that conversation. Thus the rules of time travel for this story are established, and strictly adhered to, lest a paradox arise.
There’s a whole lot of fun to be had as Kato’s friends turn up to play with this time travel gizmo, and they realise that when the TV and monitor face each other, it becomes like standing between two mirrors, an infinite recursion of images, only this time they stretch in two minute increments from past to future. And when they decide to use the gizmo to make money, they wind up getting into more trouble than they anticipated, requiring a lot of courage and ingenuity to escape.
It all sounds great and pretty run of the mill for a time travel adventure. But Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes plays out in real time. It feels like it is shot in one cut, which given the complexity of the plot, the recursive imagery on screen, obviously can’t be true, lest the cast consists of identical twins, triplets and so on. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes takes a fiendishly complex and razor sharp logical script (this is a time travel movie without any plot holes), brilliant actor performances, and genius editing to deliver a breathtaking movie experience. I’ve been reminded once more just why I love film! Don’t miss Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. You’ll regret it.