The Time Machine
Simon Wells and H.G Wells, what's the connection? One is the writer of one of the best science fiction novels ever and the other is his great-great grandson who's just directed the latest film adaptation of that novel, The Time Machine. Unfortunately the story telling genes seemed to have skipped more than one generation.
Alexander Hartdegan (Guy Pearce) is a brilliant but absent minded 19th century professor who is exhilarated by scientific discoveries in applied mechanics and physics. He's engaged to Emma (Sienna Guillory) but one unfortunate day she is accidentally killed in an incident.
Alexander's exhilaration turns into obsession and he focuses his life to conquer the forth dimension, time. Years later he finally achieves his goal and creates the Time Machine. However his success is short-lived, as no matter what he does to save Emma, he cannot change the past. As a result Alexander decides to go into the future to seek answers to the past.
His first future stop is the year 2030, where Alexander discovers that humans have colonised the moon - unfortunately due to their careless use of nuclear power during excavations, the moon crumbles and begins to fall to earth, destroying all life.
Through a series of accidents, Alexander lands himself into the year 802701 where life has returned to a much more primitive state. His discovers two tribes (No Frankie Goes To Hollywood puns please) and their relationship to one another. On one side, there is the beautiful Eloi; a tribe of children and young people living in peace and harmony. The other tribe is the Morlocks, and underground dwelling tribe, who occasionally come to the surface to hunt Eloi as their primary food source.
Alexander discovers the horrors of the Morlocks and when they kidnap Mara (pop singer Samantha Mumba), his contact with the Eloi, he decides to go after her. Venturing into the murky depths of the Morlocks caves, Alexander realises the true horror of mankind.
The biggest problem with The Time Machine is that much like the recent Planet Of The Apes remake -it really wasn't necessary to do. It's the Hollywood life sucking Remake Machine™ in action again. It's a glossy shallow version that relies on special effects to entice the audience. As mentioned before in other reviews, you need more substance and story to have an engrossing adventure than just Computer Generated Images.
The performances are good - Guy Pearce is reliable as ever and makes the transaction from absent minded professor to man of action well. Unfortunately this does tend to make the film feel like two films stuck back to back. Samantha Mumba does a good job in her first major role and is extremely easy on the eye (some outfits leave little to the imagination). Orlando Jones provides much needed comic relief as a holographic representation of a sentient computer called VOX. Even Jeremy Irons pops up at the end as an ϋber Morlock, dressed as a reject from The Rocky Horror Picture Show - unfortunately totally wasted in the role.
There are too many coincidences in this remake. For example how can VOX, the computer, still function in the year 802701, when there is no power? Are the batteries in it really that good? Also, how come only Samantha Mumba's character and her brother speak perfect English while everyone else grunts and talks gibberish?
Some of the effects are good, especially the transition during time travel, watching the landscape change and alter at high speeds. The Morlocks are weak, especially seeing that they were created by Stan Winston, the special effects guru behind The Terminator and Jurassic Park. They look as if they were knocked up during the lunch break.
The novel and to some extent the campy 1960 film, examined the class distinctions and social consciences, which are sadly lacking from this remake and as a result the film is turned into another computer effect showpiece. A film about time travel that leaves you wonder how you can get the time spent watching it back - irony at a base level.
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