Movie: Particle Fever
My Rating: 3 stars
I hardly know how to describe this movie. It’s nominally a documentary about the creation of the Large Hadron Collider. But, it’s really about the personalities that surround the project—the scientists who get really worked up about the ideas and implications, and who pull their hair out from the stress of the whole undertaking. There are many technical setbacks and political roadblocks that had threatened their work during the early stages. Although, some of the tension is diffused for the viewers, since we already know from all the news coverage that the venture was a success. But, it’s still fun to watch all these adorable scientists get really animated discussing the project. I like watching stories about just about anyone who loves what they’re doing.
Of course, I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for scientists, and that definitely came from being raised by them. So, I really have empathy for these super-awkward kids. Not that the individuals in this documentary are youngsters. They’re all fully-grown adults, and some of them are even elderly. But, they do exhibit a kind of child-like wonder and enthusiasm that feels very youthful. These scientists can’t wait to tell us all about their experiments, and they seem really excited that we’d even be interested enough to ask. It’s charming, even if I didn’t fully understand all the implications of the numbers and charts they were thrusting into my face. Of course, I understood the general concepts that these guys were discussing, but since the documentary had to fit into the standard, ninety minute format, there was only so much detailed explanation and clarification that they could go into. So, they had to settle for a bare-bones outline. But, I still feel like I appreciated what this film was about. We live in a world full of jaded hipsters these days, so it’s really fun to see people without a hint of cynicism. And, it’s nice to celebrate people with an actual skill, rather than just a carefully crafted image.
This is a pretty interesting documentary, but it isn’t exactly the most action-packed film in the world. I don’t think I’d recommend it to you unless you’re already a little curious about science news and principles. If you don’t really care about that kind of thing, this film isn’t exactly going to wow you with either revelations or cinematography. But, if you are interested in learning more about the creation of the Large Hadron Collider (and the secrets of the Universe, by implication), definitely seek out this documentary. Of course, I do like that kind of material, and I enjoyed it very much. So, I’m not trying to warn you away from this one. I’m just trying to help manage your expectations.