Movie Review

The Time Machine

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence.

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 36 min.

Starring: Guy Pearce, Mark Addy, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Philip Bosco | Directed by: Simon Wells | Produced by: Walter F Parkes, David Valdes | Written by: John Logan, Simon Wells, H G Wells | Distributor: Warner Brothers, DreamWorks SKG

In 1733, Samuel Madden wrote a book entitled Memoirs of the Twentieth Century. It was the story of an angel that brought back a document from 1998. Madden’s story launched the science fiction trend of blending time travel with utopian literature. H.G. Wells captured this concept in 1895 in his science fiction classic The Time Machine. Wells was not the first one to contemplate the idea of time travel, but he was the first to advance the idea by using a machine. His ideas received even more attention in 1905. Albert Einstein, just seven years later, proposed his Special Theory of Relativity. He stated that “time is not separate from space, but bound up with it, and flows at different speeds depending on how fast you’re moving” (this is the premise used for the upcoming film “Clockstoppers”).

There now exists a strong attraction between physics and fiction. I know that I enjoy the theme of time travel and it was Wells’ book that hooked me as an avid Sci-Fi fan. This theme has found its way through comic story lines and on to the big screen.

V.T. Hamlin’s character Alley Oop in 1933 traveled through time thanks to Doc Wonmug’s time machine. In 1949, Kurt Godel, a mathematician, using Einstein’s equations realized that a spinning universe does allow for the possibility of time travel. There are some scientist that have devoted their lives to Quantum Physics and declare that time travel is no longer a matter of “if” but “when”.

It is fitting that Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H.G. Wells, is chosen to direct the remake of the 1960’s classic. This is Simon’s first live action feature. He is best known for his work in the area of animation. Mr. Wells directed “Balto” and co-directed “The Prince of Egypt,” “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West,” and “We’re Back!: A Dinosaur’s Story.” Gore Verbinski (“Mousehunt”) supplied the filming. John Logan (“Star Trek: Nemesis,” “Gladiator”) is the screenwriter. This team has joined together to bring a very compelling drama to the big screen.

A Morlock on “The Time Machine” Wells has added his revisionist spin on H.G.’s Eloi and Morlocks. The evolutionary split of the sociological ideas of “hunters” and “gatherers” may be unsettling to many. These ideas converge at the end just as the plot is rising to its climax.

Most of the ride is extremely tame for a PG-13 film, but this rating should be strongly observed. It well earns its rating during the final lap of the movie. I will not spoil it for you, but parents with young children you have been WARNED!

Simon’s work reminded me a lot of a blend between “The Planet of the Apes” (2001) and the TV series “Earth2”. There are many similarities in the special effects. Our story has been moved from London to New York. Here a professor named Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) tries to travel into the past in order to correct a tragedy. On the eve of Alex’s engagement, his fiancé is accidentally shot. Professor Hartdegen spends the next five years perfecting his ideas of time travel. No matter how many times he goes back, the love of his life still dies. He then decides the answers are not in the past, but in the future. Alex leaves the comfort of 1899 New York and ventures into the unknown. In the middle of the 21st century, Alex encounters an event similar to the original 1966 nuclear war catastrophe in the 1960 version.

We now fast-forward 80,000 years into the Polynesian world of two very pronounced species. Alex is helped by an Eloi woman named Mara (Samatha Mumba). It is not long before the pasty death-masked characters of the Morlocks from underground confront our hero. Jeremy Irons does turn in an outstanding performance as the leader of the Morlocks. Most Sci-Fi fans will be pleased with the trip.

There is very little language and no sex in this film. There are several scenes of Mara in revealing clothing. The violence in the end is intense and at times disturbing. (Once again parents—you’ve been warned!) These scenes outside the context of the story will be offensive to most Christians. I do recommend this film with the above cautions.

Year of Release—2002

Viewer Comments
Neutral—Hollywood still doesn’t get it. They seem to think that if they throw enough special effects at us that we’ll think it’s a good movie. They don’t understand the necessity of Story and Character(s). TM is a pleasant enough movie, but neither captures the audience’s imagination or intrigues us with plot twists. The character’s are flat and one-dimensional. “Will the leading man get the girl?” In this case, “who cares” is the response. There are many interesting sub-plots this film could have taken us, but never does. Basically, this film is an innocent enough movie but never really takes off or captures the audience.
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—Ron Reames, age 55
Positive—WOW! The time machine was great! It had such good action scenes and suspenseful moments it kept me on the edge of my seat. I really thought it was good! There was very little objectional material in it (which is extremely rare). I definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes action/suspense.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—John, age 20
Positive—I liked the movie. The plot was a little weak. I do not recall any cussing at all and other than some violence and some evoloutionary ideas the movie is good. No sex but Mara wears a little to revealing clothes.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Megan, age 18
Positive—…it was pretty good… it’s kinda spooky though, so if your kids get scared easily I wouldn’t recommend it… overall it was a very good movie.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—April, age 15
Positive—The Time Machine was a flashy, fast-paced special effects filled ride. The action was fast enough to take the mind of the load of plot holes and weaknesses of the movie. Guy pierce did a great job as Alexander and the special effect and directing were superb. The only offending thing to a Christian audience would be the intense violence and some ridiculous talk about human evolution. The story isn’t near plausible, but do we go to the movies for plausibility or do we go to be entertained? This is not a children’s film due to the nature of some scenes.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—L.S.Loewen, age 15
Neutral—This movie is okay. It’s not great, but it is not terrible. I left the theater feeling as though the story should have been developed more. It felt as though something was missing. From a Christian perspective, time travel is always kind of loony. But (without giving anything away) I was reminded of the truth of Hebrews 9:27 while watching this movie. After you have seen the film, look that verse up, and you will make the connection ;-) There were a couple scenes that I found objectionable. One being a scene where a female character had on a net-like shirt that was rather revealing, and the other being the brutality of the other race. But with all of that said, the movie was okay. I would say catch it at the matinee price. It is a matinee kind of flick.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Rena, age 36
Positive—I really liked the film the film, Not sutible for children. A must for a science fiction fan! No swearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain. One I would see again the movie is way to deep to digest in one viewing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Cyndi Rosenthal, age 26

Decent movie with good special effects but the plot is kinda weak, much more could have been done with this movie. Violence is present in areas and I don’t recall much profanity, but there is not sex or nudity. …With how the two “species” of humans came about kind of eludes to evolution but how they come about is not explained at all. There is no intense violence and no blood or gore. though some of the special effects at the end when somebody dies could be a little disturbing to younger children. This is an OK movie. It is worth watching but not great. It is not too offensive as long as you can handle some violence. (only in two or three parts in the movie).
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Jon Zenor

Movie Critics
…pure science fiction and not intended to be taken as real, but some violent scenes are certainly not appropriate for young children…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Violence consists of various deaths… instances of non-lethal fighting or attacking are also present…
—ScreenIt!