Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
Keeping it in the family is a popular phrase, and one which Simon Wells took to heart when he decided to remake his great-grandfather’s book, The Time Machine. Over forty years after the original movie, it was obvious that the rookie director would have to revamp the storyline in order to appeal to audiences now. He brought in a mixture of experience (Jeremy Irons) and youth (Samantha Mumba) to spice up the story. Would this be enough to have audiences flocking to see the movie? Well that’s a hard question to answer, as the jury is still very much undecided with this remake. Some people consider it a worthy attempt while others regarded it as nothing more then a cheap special effects movie. Now with the release of the region two version, we get another chance to decide for ourselves.

Time Machine (2002), The
Film
Life for Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) revolves mainly around work. He is a lecturer who spends his spare time playing with gadgets. Alexander is adamant that time travel is possible, and spends every moment calculating formulae to prove his theory. David Philby (Mark Addy) is Alexander’s worried friend, who believes Alex should be spending more time socialising. Taking his friend’s advice Alexander organises a date with his long-term girlfriend. He plans to ask her to marry him, and hopes that she will prove to be his soul mate. His hopes for a bright future are quickly shattered when a romantic walk in the park ends in the tragic death of his bride to be.

The movie then transports us four years into the future. Alexander is predictably still affected by the death of his true love, and decides to dedicate his life to building a time machine and travelling back in time to that awful evening. His hard work pays off, and the inventor travels back in time with the intention of stopping the murder. He soon learns that you cannot change the past. This obviously bemuses him, and he decides to travel to the future to see whether that is any better. After several stops he finds himself in 800,000 AD, where the Earth has evolved. The inhabitants have now been split into two races, which vary in friendliness! The Eloi are a friendly human race, who live sheltered lives away from the other inhabitants. Alexander befriends Mara (Samantha Mumba), an English speaker who finds the time traveller intriguing. Just when Alexander starts thinking that the future isn’t too bad, he stumbles across the Morlocks who are ugly creatures that hunt the Eloi. They live underground and are led by the Uber-Morlock (Jeremy Irons). Alexander finds it hard to accept that the Morlocks are the dominating species, and sets about persuading the Eloi to fight back.

Guy Pearce stormed onto the big screen with the release of LA Confidential. Before that he was better known for his role in Aussie soap Neighbours. He is now firmly established as a Hollywood actor, and has starred in films such as Memento and The Count of Monte Cristo. Therefore, the main role in The Time Machine should have been a piece of cake for the talented actor. Unfortunately I don’t know what went wrong! He is never convincing in the role, but that may have more to do with the lack of character development in the film than his acting abilities. We never really get to know about the character’s past, and after the murder of his fiancée, his character seems to do things on the spur of the moment. A couple of British actors are given essential role in this movie, with Mark Addy and especially Samantha Mumba coming out of the movie with credit. For anyone who is not aware, Samantha Mumba is a British pop singer, but she puts in a performance which defies her experience. If truth be told, her character is not a particularly hard one to get to grips with, but nevertheless she does well, and sets herself up for a promising career. Jeremy Irons is also billed as one of the main actors but has very little time onscreen.

Time Machine (2002), The
The Time Machine is a strange film to review. Simon Wells does a good job of recreating the Victorian era, which makes for a very interesting first twenty minutes. The opening is also thought provoking and riveting, with good character development. Sadly, the story takes a dramatic turn as soon as Alexander starts dabbling in the future. Once the Morlocks are introduced into the film, it turns into a poor monster movie. I suppose poor isn’t the best way to describe it, but I was certainly left disappointed. The Morlocks’ entrance is actually quite exciting, but that is not built on and the pace of the film peters out. The movie ends too suddenly, which made me feeling hugely dissatisfied. The Time Machine is not a bad film, but it is probably a remake which should have been directed by a more experienced person. The promising opening should have been built on, but what we are left with is an average time travelling movie, which offers nothing new to the genre. The film does however have its good moments. The time machine itself is well portrayed, and some of the chase scenes involving the Morlocks are exciting, so bearing that in mind this is a film which should keep you entertained. However, there is nothing here which will keep you coming back for repeat viewings.

Video
The Time machine is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Recently I have had the chance to review quite a lot of Warner releases and this is probably the best. There is a small amount of grain, but is very occasional and that is the only complaint I have! The colours are vibrant and true, with the beautiful scenery towards the end of the movie portrayed precisely. The image quality is crystal clear, and sharpness is also spot-on. This is probably as close to perfect as you would expect from a recent release.  Black levels are excellent and withstand the dark cave scenes towards the end of the movie. If you are looking for a demo quality transfer then you could do a lot worse than this one.

Audio
Sadly missing from this disc is the DTS soundtrack which is present on the region one disc. What we are presented with is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track which is quite a good effort. There were certain points in the movie where I would have expected the rears to spring into life though this was not the case, but most of the time they were used well. When we are introduced to the time machine for the first time, I was amazed by how well the soundtrack dealt with the many noises produced during time travel. Also, the chase scenes are portrayed accurately with Morlock noises coming from all directions. Dialogue was dealt with expertly, with the scenes involving Jeremy Irons being clear and precise. Overall a very reasonable track with should keep you engrossed. To make up for missing DTS track, region two fans will be happy to hear that there are also German and Spanish 5.1 tracks included.

Time Machine (2002), The
Extras
Warner have once again provided us with a good selection of extras. Its nice to see the region two disc getting identical treatment to that of the region one version. First up are two feature length commentaries. The main commentary is with director Simon Wells and Wayne Wahrman. The pair start off by talking about the deleted scene which was cut from the opening sequences. They discuss their love of the original film, and also give a good insight into technical aspects of the remake. The second commentary is with David Valdez, Jamie Price and Oliver Scholl. This is less interesting and is a case of having too many voices. There is no fluidity, with the commentators acting as if they are having a general conversation. Sometimes this can be good in a commentary, but I found it to be less informative, compared to the other one on this disc.

Probably the most impressive section included on this disc is the documentaries. We are treated to four mini documentaries which have a total running time of just over fifteen minutes. The first is called ‘Creating the Morlocks,’ and gives us a brief rundown of how the creatures were created. Director Simon Wells talks about how the Morlocks exist. Apparently there are two types of these monsters, the spies and the hunters, which is something I didn’t notice when watching the movie. Jeremy Irons also makes a brief appearance in this documentary and talks about his character. The documentary lasts for just under five minutes. Next in this section is ‘Building the Time Machine,’ which demonstrates how the time machine was brought to the big screen. In this documentary we get brief explanations from Guy Pearce and Samantha Mumba. It has a running time of just over five and a half minutes. The third documentary in the list is called ‘Visual Effects’ and is slightly disappointing. I was hoping for a more elaborate discussion about how the special effects were created, but sadly we are only shown five brief scenes from the movie, and there is a vague commentary about how the scenes were created. Heading up the selection of documentaries is ‘Stunt Choreography’ which is a fifty second clip of the final fight scene with stunt actors playing the main characters. This documentary is quite amusing.

A deleted scene can also be found in the extras section. It is entitled ‘Dean Fulton Deleted Scene’. A few seconds are included either side of the scene so we get to see where it would have fitted into the final cut. The scene lasts for about seven minutes and would have been included right at the beginning of the movie. The scene introduces us to Alexander, as he takes a class in the university grounds. It ends with the principal of the college telling Alexander off for all his bizarre articles regarding time travelling. This would have been a useful scene to add, but I can see why it was left out of the final cut. Due to the positioning of the scene it would have been too much information too soon, and would have probably spoilt the flow of the movie.  We are also treated to three trailers. The first trailer is the theatrical teaser which is quite amusing to watch. The teaser creates the impression that you are watching a trailer for a car movie, but then at the end the time machine appears. A class bit of advertising! Also included are theatrical and international trailers, which are very alike.

Time Machine (2002), The
Finally the disc also has a production gallery and a ‘Hunt’ sequence animatic. The production galley shows twenty-one photographs from the movie, and the hunt sequence is a brief storyboard from the first meeting with the Morlocks.  

Overall
This DVD release of Time Machine should please fans of the movie, as it offers an excellent transfer and an active soundtrack. Extras are also top notch, with something for everyone. As for the movie, I was left slightly disappointed. I remember seeing the trailer in the cinema, and had high hopes, which were never reached. The movie does have its moments, but a disappointing and abrupt ending has the effect of undoing all the earlier good work. The movie is by no means a disaster, but could have been so much better. However Warner have to be complimented for supplying a quality disc which deserves a better movie. If you’re a fan, then don’t hesitate to buy this, otherwise maybe a rental viewing would be advisable first.  


Links: