Our rating: 3 out of 5
reviewed by Dallas Shipp
Our rating: 3 out of 5
Once upon a time there was a man named H. G. Wells. He was a pioneer in science fiction, and wrote many books. Classics like The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. When I was younger, Wells was definitely one of my favorite authors. His stories were wondrous, vivid, and oh, so very mysterious. Wells happened to have a grandson that went into film making. Simon Wells started the Time Machine film project a while ago. Being a fan of the story, I was anxious to see what he came up with.
Alexander Hartdagen is an absent minded inventor whose friend and colleague Philby must remind him of his appointments constantly. At the beginning of the film, Alexander proposes to his sweetheart Emma, who is then murdered in a botched robbery. Stricken with grief over her death, Hartdagen confines himself to his workroom for the next four years, shunning his friends. During that time, Alexander constructs a machine that can transport men through time. He built it in order to rescue Emma from death, but discovers that no matter how many times he tries to save her, she always dies. Searching for closure, Alexander then travels into the future. He makes two strange stops in a futuristic New York City and then zooms 800,000 years into the future. There he meets Mara and Kalen, who call themselves Eloi, and are part of the last remnants of human civilization on the planet. They live in constant fear of attacks by morlocks, mutant beings that hunt the eloi for food. Alexander is baffled by this strange society, and tries to rally them to organize themselves against the morlocks.
The Time Machine seemed to borrow the wardrobe and makeup from The Mummy, and The Fellowship of the Ring. The morlocks looked very much like orcs with dreadlocks. They also carried blowguns, which made them nearly identical to the zombie-pygmies from The Mummy Returns. The people from the far-future wore costumes and sported tattoos that could have been taken from both films. Too little imagination and too much overkill drive this one right into the ditch of classically bad examples of filmmaking. The acting was not anything remarkable. Guy Pearce is thoroughly awkward through the first act of the film but then progresses to be steadfast hero by the last act. He manages to do this without our seeing progression in his character; only in his actions. His love story was touching but very brief. Jeremy Irons gives a decent performance as the ghostly leader of the morlocks. Orlando Jones plays a computer generated character named Vox, who turns out to be one of the more interesting figures in the film. It was too bad he had so little screen time.
The sets and props were my favorite part of the film. What you saw of them, anyway. The Time Machine itself was pretty cool. It was made of brass and silver wheels and a stand. Combined with the special effects, it was very neat to watch. The scenes from New York City in the near future were heavily cut due to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, which made it somewhat hurried and awkward. The little of the sets you actually see make you ask more questions than you get answers to. I was very frustrated by this. I was looking forward to some eye candy, and at least a little interaction by the time traveler with the strange world, but there was none. The Time Machine is rated PG-13 for gore. There was a tiny amount of language. Some of the costumes were slightly questionable but nothing too immodest. The gore was very bad. We see an area where the morlocks butcher the humans, complete with bloody meat hooks. Our hero then falls into a pool filled with bloody skeletons. The leader of the morlocks is nauseating. (You might not want to read this.) The bones on his spine stick out of his back and his brain is literally sticking out of the back of his head. For this alone, I think The Time Machine could have earned an R rating. People are shot with darts and carried away. A woman is shot with a gun and we see blood on the snow she falls on. A character falls out of the Time Machine and ages rapidly. We watch him decay into a skeleton.
I was quite disappointed with the film overall. It had great potential but fell incredibly short of my expectations. The gore is very nasty and the story probably isn't worth a second viewing anyway. I wouldn't recommend it.