THE TIME MACHINE (2002)
Guy Pearce, Mark Addy, Samantha Mumba, Omero Mumba, Orlando Jones,
Sienna Guillory, Phyllida Law, Yancey Arias, Laura Kirk, Josh Stamberg,
Alan Young, John W. Momrow, Max Baker, Jeffrey M. Meyer, Myndy Crist and
Screenplay by John Logan.
Directed by Simon
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 96 minutes. Rated
A couple of months
ago, one of my co-writers, when reviewing the Meg Ryan/Hugh Jackman romantic
comedy Kate & Leopold, said that it was almost impossible to make a
bad time travel movie. To a large extent I agree with that statement.
So it is a little disheartening that this new film version of the granddaddy
of all of them is, while certainly not bad, just so pedestrian. Particularly
since Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H.G. Wells, writer of this
visionary book that pretty much started the whole genre, was brought in to
Actor Guy Pearce is following up his breakout role in
Memento (and this time Pearce certainly made a better choice than when
he followed up LA Confidential with Ravenous.) Pearce plays a
Victorian scientist who becomes obsessed with time travel when his beautiful
fiancée is killed during a robbery. When he finally builds his time machine,
he goes back to save her, but is distraught to find that she dies again in a
different way. Instead of trying again, he decides to use his time machine
to go into the future to find out why he cant change history. He keeps
going further and further into the future in search of this answer.
The Time Machine is in the past or even the immediate future, it is
charming and interesting. It is only when he goes 800,000 years into the
future and finds a civil war between the peaceful tree-dwelling Elois and
the carnivorous Morlocks that the story loses steam. Pop star Samantha Mumba
does a nice job as a Eloi teacher who befriends Pearce. But by the time we
get here, the developments are far-fetched, the science is suspect (are we
really supposed to believe a tile sign for the Brooklyn Bridge survived
800,000 years without getting smudged or buried under generations of
earth?), and frankly the Morlocks are kind of ridiculous looking.
time Jeremy Irons appears as an albino Morlock leader, the story has pretty
much lost us. Its not H.G. Wells fault, but his source material, which was
so revolutionary over a hundred years ago
seems a little tame when compared
to all the innovations that came in its wake. (3/02)
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