Netflix’s ‘The Discovery’ premiered at Sundance and popped up on my list of recommendations. I didn’t watch the preview (available below) before starting it up, which is an oddity for me because I hate wasting my time with bad movies. This one started with a bang! The first few minutes of the movie kick off with an interview with Thomas Harper (played by Robert Redford) in which he discusses his undisputed scientific proof that upon death, a person’s consciousness leaves the body and continues on to another plane of existence. Consequently millions of people begin killing themselves to escape this life and “get there.” At this point, I was hooked and truly looking forward to seeing how the movie unfolded.
Next, we flash forward two years to a scene where Will Stevenson (Jason Segel, best known for his role as Marshall on ‘How I Met Your Mother’) meets Isla (Rooney Mara) on an empty ferry on the way to somewhere and begin debating whether “The Discovery” (the fact that there is another plane of existence after death) is actually real, with Will taking the contrarian view. They part, as strangers do, and we soon learn that Thomas is Will’s father. Whaaaat?
I have a self-imposed rule that when I watch movies for reviewing on ScienceFiction.com, I will always watch at least the first 30 minutes of a film, no matter how bad it is. But if it’s bad, I have enough self-respect that I won’t force myself to finish it. I’m truly disappointed to say that ‘The Discovery’ was so slow and so boring after the scenes I described above, that I couldn’t even make it past 27 minutes. I was so disinterested that I had my Netflix timer up on the screen so I could watch as the seconds passed agonizingly slowly so I knew when I could stop watching. After the initial hook with Redford’s opening scene, I was really looking forward to getting into this film, but it never materialized.
I was quite interested in seeing how it all played out because as a man who was raised to be a conservative Christian, the idea (and excuse) of an afterlife drove most of my actions as I was growing up and finding my way in the world. As an adult on a different trajectory, I was looking forward to a thoughtful exploration of the theme (I would have settled for something cheesy too), and ended up with a ultra-slow-played reveal that made me wish I’d never hit my remote’s enter button on this title.
Should you check out Netflix’s ‘The Discovery’? I would say the only way this movie is watchable is if you’re doing something else and need some noise in the background (but definitely not if you’re “chilling,” it would be a buzzkill because they talk about suicide a lot).