Particle Fever (2013)

While I'm not a scientist, I am definitely a fan of quantum physics. As a result, I was really looking forward to this movie. This was essentially supposed to be a dumbing down of what the Large Hadron Collider does, who the people are that are using it, and its significance in the universe (or our understanding of it). This movie appears to have gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews from every place I've looked, so there's no reason for me to not be nuts about it.

I didn't like this movie. Like a reality TV show, this movie seems to generate drama between the theoretical physicists and the practical physicists that doesn't seem to correlate with the little bit that I knew going in. On top of that, it is more of a dumbing down than it needs to be for the relatively intelligent audience that is going to go see it. I can't say I came away with a greater knowledge of how the collider works, what it has found, or even much insight into the people who were running it.

It's hard to make math interesting, I get that. It's also hard to make it interesting for a bunch of really smart people sitting down and having meetings on a regular basis. But the audiobook for the Martian demonstrated that you can have enjoyable math, and I don't know how many movies about government intrigue, stock scandals, hostile takeovers, or other such topics have had meetings galore and still been interesting. It feels like the documentarians really didn't have a lot of confidence in their source material, so they glossed over the really interesting stuff and tried to highlight things that they essentially were making up.

This was really a letdown for me. I wanted this to be fantastic, and it was basically okay. You can't say that they went overboard with trying to sell it, as I don't remember ever seeing a single commercial for it, they didn't build any kind of elaborate set pieces, and they didn't even get a big celebrity to do their voiceovers. Instead, it's a documentary that doesn't seem to document much. This was 1 hour and 40 minutes long, and it had no more useful scientific information than I might have read in an article that would've probably taken me 10 minutes (if I read slowly).

Audio was pretty good for a documentary
Video was kind of lousy
Direction was a shame
Content was weak
Lighting was good

Bottom Line: Go read a Scientific American article, and you'll have learned more and likely enjoyed the process more. This wasn't so much bad, though, as it was a letdown.



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