The Time Machine (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I liked the first half of this movie, which is a loose adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel. The scenes set in a wintry pre-automobile New York possessed some real charm, and Guy Pearce brought some earnest enthusiasm to his interpretation of the grief-stricken scientific genius. The scenes set in 2030 and 2037 also held some interest, especially Orlando Jones's take as a holographic assistant in the New York Public Library.


Samantha Mumba parades around for a while in a sorta see-through net top, but nothing is really visible except the precise outline of her breasts.

The scenes set 800,000 years in the future, however, broke down completely. That section was CGI for the sake of CGI, filled with high-tech monsters and Jeremy Irons as a futuristic talking mime. It's good to see that mimes make progress over the centuries, even if the rest of humanity does not. If mimes can learn to speak, then perhaps we can all learn to get along. Or not. Maybe he was supposed to be a future member of KISS. In which case, perhaps we can all learn to like heavy metal.

Conveniently, both the peaceful surface dwellers (who seem to be Polynesians living in a tropical paradise, even though the physical setting is a future New York) and the underground Marcel Marceau impersonators (most of whom seem to be related to Taz from the Warner brothers cartoons), continued speaking some English in the far flung future. The pace of linguistic change really settled down. Although the English of 1400 would be just about incomprehensible today, a mere six centuries later, the English of 802701 is unchanged from today's speech, except that contractions seem to have been eliminated, indicating that these future earthlings learned to speak our language from watching old tapes of Kim Darby in True Grit. 

DVD info from Amazon

Commentary by director Simon Wells
Theatrical trailer(s)
Deleted scenes
Making of Morlocks
Making of The Time Machine
Widescreen anamorphic format, 2.35:1

The plot is filled with the usual inconsistencies inherent to time travel movies, but I think you pretty much have to expect that. That bothered me some, but not much. The real disappointments are

  1. that they couldn't imagine a distant future any more compelling than the one shown here
  2. that they couldn't come up with a real point to the entire film.

The movie was directed by H.G. Wells's own great grandson, Simon Wells 

The Critics Vote ...

  • General consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 1.5/4, Berardinelli 2/4, 2/5

  • General UK consensus: one and a half stars. Daily Mail 4/10, Independent 4/10, The Guardian 4/10, The Times 4/10, Evening Standard 4/10, The Express 4/10, The Mirror 6/10, BBC 2/5


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.8/10, Guardian voters 5.5/10
  • with their dollars: it grossed a fairly respectable $56 million, but the production budget was an outlandish $80 million, and it appeared on a blockbuster level of 3000 screens, so it disappointed, and the ledger is currently negative.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Just an OK remake of a movie that was below average to begin with. What else can you say?

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