The Time Machine begins in the late 1800s with a professor at Columbia University, Alexander Hartdegen (Pearce; Memento). Alexander is a mathe-matical genius who gets caught up in his work and with his fellow professor and friend, Dr. David Philby (Addy; A Knight's Tale) who keeps Alex up to speed with reality. One night Alexander meets with Emma, his girlfriend, to propose to her after which they are mugged at gun-point. . .and you can figure out the rest. So, to bring her back he works tirelessly over 4 years to make a time machine so he can go to the past and change her fate. When he goes back, he takes her away from where the crime occurred but she still suffered the same fate.
With this turn of events he goes overboard by going into the future (to the year 2030) thinking they may have the ability to really change the past. At a museum he asks the question about changing the past to Vox (Jones; Evolution), a library hologram who gives information to the patrons. After a brief conversation about H.G. Wells' novel, the 1960 movie and "The Time Machine" The Musical, Alexander finds out that it is not possible and decides to return in a few hundred years. But during his journey to the future there's a big catastrophe that leaves him unconscious and thrown 800,000 years into the future. In this future he meets Mara (Mumba) and the people of the new Earth who speak their own language. Mara is a teacher who teaches them the old English. After some lousy conversations, we discover there are two species, the humans and the Morlock's who feed off of humans (lovely).
This entire film was pretty bad. It had a terrible screenplay complete with atrocious dialogue and cardboard characters.John Logan who has produced a mixed bag of films wrote the screenplay. On the one hand he contributed to the 2000 Oscar winning film, Gladiator but he also is credited with Any Given Sunday, the football flop starring Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz to name a few. Not all the blame can be placed on Logan given the bad direction, but he is responsible for fleshing out especially the main character so the audience has someone to root for.
Simon Wells, H.G. Wells' great-grandson, mainly directed The Time Machine. I say 'mainly' because Gore Verbinski (The Mexican) was brought in to finish the final 18 days of shooting when Wells left because of "extreme exhaustion". I don't blame him, either. Wells had previously directed feature film cartoons like The Prince of Egypt and Balto. It was obvious that Wells is not the type of director that can helm a big budget action/ science fiction film like this. He messes up a premise that could have been good and heartfelt but was left with emptyness. Wells (or Verbinski) uses fast motion camera shots and can never grasp what the new Earth was really like. He obviously took something from Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes with the jungle sets and nasty looking monsters taking control of the humans.
I have enjoyed Guy Pearce's performances over the years including Rules of Engagement but most notably he came to stardom in Memento. His role as a mad scientist never really took off with me and even his more emotional scenes concerning the death of his fiancée was empty and needed more for me to feel sorry him. Pearce was a part of one of the best film's of 2001 and now he will most likely be associated with one of the worst of 2002. Every good actor has a bump in the road so hopefully he won't fall in with the likes of Kevin Costner after 'Waterworld'.
Jeremy Irons' role should have gone uncredited because he appears in a total of one scene. Sadly it was the best of the movie, but it could not revive this film. Irons does what he could with the role and make the most of the short screen time he had. Irons plays Uber-Morlock, the leader of the Morlock's. He has the ability to control the savages and also to read people's minds, looking into their pasts.
The supporting cast consists of Samantha Mumba and Mark Addy. Considering the screenplay the two actors do an ok job but add little to the story and to the movie as a whole. I was surprised that Samantha could act and take on a supporting role rather than some other singer turned actresses (right, Britney?). While this is not a great first outing for her, she is not to blame and should be able to get some good parts in the future.
Now, to be perfectly honest there were three particular elements I liked about this film: 1. There were no obligatory Pepsi or Coke ads in the future portion of the movie (you know, nifty technology with adver- tisements of current products to finance a film), 2. Sienna Guillary, the actress who plays Emma, does a laughable death scene (thankfully we are spared the second time around), and 3. I love the notion of a time machine that can take me to the past so I can stop myself from buying tickets to movies like The Time Machine.
What do you think of The Time Machine
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