The Time Machine

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0 to 800,000 years in 1.2 seconds.


Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Orlando Jones, Jeremy Irons, Mark Addy

Sci-Fi, Adventure

Alexander Hartegan (Pearce) is a professor in Victorian England with a penchant for inventing things. After his fiancee Emma is murdered, his hobby turns into an obsession and he spends years developing a way to change the past. He finally creates a time machine and travels into the past to prevent Emma's death. Here, Alexander learns the cruel fact that he cannot change what has already happened.

It is then that his true adventures begin as he journeys into the future to resolve the past. Along the way, he encounters shortening hemlines, a falling moon, and a cynical computer simulation containing all of humanity's knowledge (Jones). Alexander eventually ends up 800,000 years in the future. There, he meets Mara (Mumba), a member of a peaceful community that lives above ground in a futuristic pastoral world. It isn't long, however, that the idyllic surface of the community is shattered when an underground species called the Morlocks invade and kidnap Mara. After a failed rescue, Alexander meets the leader of the Morlocks (Irons) and discovers the truth about the future of humanity and his place within it.

I was really surprised when I first began reading reviews of this movie and found many of them to be less than favourable. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed The Time Machine, and I think was due to two reasons: 1) I have never read the original novel by H.G. Wells so I did not compare this movie with the book. 2) I do not really remember the 1960 movie as I was about 6 when I saw it so I did not compare this movie with that one.

As a stand alone movie, The Time Machine was enjoyable and impressive. The beginning sequence set up Alexander's personality and obsession quite well. Pearce was perfect as the time travelling professor. He looked like an intellectual, but it wasn't too far-fetched to see him become a bit of an action hero at the end. He brought some class to a role that could have easily been camped up.

Despite Pearce's formidable acting skills, the main draw of The Time Machine is undoubtedly the special effects. We've all seen time-lapse photography before on The Discovery Channel, but this movie blends it seamlessly and beautifully into the story. I especially liked the scenes around Alexander's house as he travelled into the next century. The plants grew, the dust collected, and the skirts in the mannequins of the shop across the street shortened. Quite nifty stuff actually.

The special effects within each time period that Alexander visited were also nothing to scoff at. The falling moon, Mara's aboreal village, and the Morlocks' underground hell were all visual treats. My favourite effect had to be Orlando Jones though. Ok, so it had nothing to do with his holographic tendencies. It was the fact that his character injected just the right amount of slightly insane and cynical humour into a movie that otherwise lacked it.

Of course the science in this movie, and indeed H.G. Wells original novella, is a bit sketchy. I think it's a bit silly to think that humans as we appear now will still be on Earth in 800,000 years. But, hey, we're not watching this to get a grip on evolutionary theory. We're watching this to be entertained, and this movie certainly does that.

Point Blank:
Don't be influenced by the comparatively snobby reviews out there. This movie is just fine and dandy. Watch it, and enjoy the ride.