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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Time Machine

MOVIE REVIEWS

THE TIME MACHINE (2002)

Starring 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 Jeremy Irons.

Screenplay by John Logan.

Directed by Simon Welles.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  96  minutes.   Rated PG-13.

The Time Machine

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 be director.

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 can’t change history. He keeps going further and further into the future in search of this answer.

While 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.

By the time Jeremy Irons appears as an albino Morlock leader, the story has pretty much lost us. It’s 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)

Jay S. Jacobs

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