[IMDB link] [Netflix link]
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Time traveler fails to save his fiance.
PEOPLE: Directed by Simon Wells — H.G Wells great-grandson — who didn’t get another directing gig for 9 years. That might be a good thing. He also had “extreme exhaustion” and caused them to have to bring in another director for the last 18 days of shooting. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Screenplay by John Logan, who did a much better job on Star Trek:Nemesis, The Aviator, and even Gladiator than in this. In this case, he took a literary masterpiece and made a mockery of it.
Starring Guy Pierce (Memento, The Hurt Locker, Ravenous, L.A. Confidential) as the time traveler. The future love-interest / native woman / “new Weena” is played by Samantha Mumba (a Black-Irish singer). Honestly, I thought she was Zoe Saldana from Avatar the whole time. But no. She’s actually hotter than Zoe Saldana, now that I’ve performed some “research”.
And keep a lookout for Alan Young, the original Filby from the original Time Machine (1960). He is the flower store clerk who says, “Can I help you?”, when the main character goes back in time and sees his fiance for the 2nd time, right before [highlight for spoilers]→ she gets killed in a horse accident. And the Uber-Morlock was played by Jeremy Irons, who was in The Colour Of Magic, Inland Empire, Die Hard:With A Vengeance, and The Lion King.
QUIRKS: Time travel remake, Hollywood-ized.
VISUALS: The main boss melting away into time was one of the most creepy awesome deaths ever. It was done soooo well, even if it was just cgi. We had to watch it twice in a row. It was creepy and chilling. This may be what pushed the movie, BARELY, into 3-star territory for us. Seeing it in HD made it a better movie than when we watched it in 2003 in sub-dvd quality. The visuals are, as a whole, far better than the quaint and laughable visuals of the 1960 Time Machine movie. The vision of the world 750M years from now was pretty awesome too — with the sun going red, and the earth’s surface mostly a charred rockscape that looked like someplace Skeletor would like to live.
SOUNDTRACK: VERY cheesy Africa/Lion King-esque music/”make us feel hope” music. So, so, so incredibly lame.
WILHELM SCREAM: Only the one in my head when I realized what they’d done to Welles’s story.
MORALS: Don’t let Hollywood remake your movie.
POLITICS: Release was delayed by 911. So friggin’ lame. Bin Laden made this movie come out later.
BAD STUFF: All Hollywooded up. The original was better — and I often prefer remakes to the original.
VERY cheesy romance at the beginning.
VERY cheesy “ooh look at the hopeful natives and their peaceful society” plot device. The moral ambiguity has been removed, in place of clear “good guys” and “bad guys”. This is the emotional string-pulling that I think Ian B hates so much :) The Eloi from the 1960 Time Machine were far, far more interesting. It seems like they made these guys look African as some kind of “affirmative action” to rail against the original “Aryan” look of the Eloi in 1960s, complete with the most cheesy music ever. Fact of the matter is, they are supposed to be fair skinned and are supposed to NOT look human. So an Aryan depiction is closer to the original book. It’s not necessarily racist, like so many people thought. Changing them from white to black also erases some of the original social commentary about class warfare.
Also, why the fuck is this Avatar? It even has a white guy going into a black/blue culture, learning their ways, and falling in love with a Zoe Saldana-type character. I know Avatar didn’t come out until 7 years later, but still: When I watch The Time Machine, I don’t want to watch Avatar! This isn’t fucking Avatar, It’s the fucking Time Machine goddamnit! Avatarded, mang!
And what’s with the ending? The time machine is a literal deus ex machina now?!?! It’s a time machine. It’s also a WMD! It slices, it dices, it travels through time, it [highlight for spoilers]→ explodes and kills all the bad guys.
And it all boils down to a fist fight? And not a fist full of hope, like the first Eloi to make a first in the first movie. Mankind is not really redeemed here. It’s just the main character punching a “boss”. Pffft.
ON HAVING SEEN IT BEFORE: Carolyn: Damn, dude, i had NO RECOLLECTION WHATSOEVER. Except for those mountain buildings, which i thought was from some other movie (Avatar was the one i got stuck in my mind). You at least said, “Hey, I’ve seen this scene before” about the holograph [Orlando Jones] scene.
Clint: Yeah, I did say that. My assumption was that I had turned it on in a hotel on vacation or something, realized what it was, and said, “Oh, we’re gonna watch this at some point in the future, so let’s not spoil it”, and then turned it off. I guess, really, that was the only scene I remembered. The rings from the original movie were much cooler.
CONCLUSION: This movie took EVERY point of the first movie and threw it out the door. The only redeeming quality to this movie is the eye candy, especially the “boss death” which is one of the coolest deaths I’ve ever seen — even if it seems to be lifted right out of Cube 2. They took a literary masterpiece, threw everything away, made a mockery of it, and came out with a generic Hollywood film. We actually watched this all the way through without realizing we’d seen it 7 years ago (though we both commented “i’ve seen this scene before” at 2 different places; I thought I’d seen a scene flipping channels; Carolyn thought she was confusing it with another movie). I guess not remembering having watched it in 2003 is a commentary on how generic this is, compared to the original. I had previously rated it 2/5 stars, but upgraded it to 3/5 stars based on the quality of blu-ray vs dvd. Being able to actually see the effect in detail increases their value just enough to increase this to a “barely, barely, barely passable movie”. This is probably still in the lowest 10% of movies that we watch, but I also tend to choose movies I enjoy, and still didn’t mind seeing this (again, apparently). Fans of the original movie, BEWARE. This is a pale echo of the original movie (which I give 5/5 stars).
Clint: Netflix: 2.6/5 stars. IMDB: 5.6/10. Basically, as low as can possibly be while still rating it 3/5 stars, 6/10. In 2003 I rated this 2/5 stars. It’s only passable in bluray.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 5.6/10, Netflix: 3.3/5 stars.
RECOMMENDATION: For completists only. Otherwise, just watch the final fight.
SIMILAR MOVIES: The original (1960), as well as 2 made-for-TV versions (1949, 1978). If anyone knows where to get the made-for-TV versions, I’d love to see them.
MOVIE QUOTE: Uber-Morlock: You built your time machine because of Emma’s death. If she had lived it would never have existed, so how could you use your time machine to go back and save her? You are the inescapable result of your tragedy, just as I am the inescapable result of you.
RELATED: Want to see some crazy shit? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268695/board/nest/142566670. Okay, it’s actually kind of lame, nevermind.