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The Time Machine (2002)

Guy Pearce discovers you can’t change the past – and changing the future’s none too easy either.

Directed by:

Simon Wells

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 92 minutes

UK Certificate: pg

On DVD

Country: United States

You'd imagine Simon Wells, being the great-grandson of original "Time Machine" novelist H.G., would be fairly well-placed to piece together a fitting homage to the legendary writer's work. Unfortunately, director Simon's skewed revamp of the time travel classic falls flat on its face all too often.

Guy Pearce plays sickeningly-romantic scientist Alexander Hartdegen, who builds himself a time machine in an attempt to turn back the clock and prevent fiancée Emma (Sienna Guillory) from being murdered. Upon finding himself unable to change the past, he heads for the future in search of answers, stopping off briefly in 2030 and then 2037 before nodding off at the controls and ending up in the year 802701.

Here he's taken in by a tribe of jabber-mouthed cliff-dwelling pacifists, and is befriended by the beautiful Mara (Samantha Mumba), who fortunately speaks perfect English. But things start to seem a little less idyllic when Alexander and his new pals are attacked by Morlocks – a gang of super-strong Iggy Pop look-a-likes – and Mara is dragged down to their underground lair for "breeding purposes".

Disappointingly, it follows in the footsteps of tripe like "Tomb Raider" and "The Mummy", substituting substance and character development for extravagant special effects and skimming over the top of blatant plot-holes in the hope that none of us will notice. You'll have a hard time believing Alexander is intelligent enough to change a light bulb, let alone invent a fully-functional time machine which works perfectly at the very first attempt. The film takes place in New York, yet everyone seems to have British accents. And the obvious problems of time travel – such as the likelihood of bumping into yourself – are never even touched upon. Simon Wells should have left his great grandfather's work well alone.

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It's Got: Jeremy Irons in an extremely limited role as the ultra-brainy Uber-Morlock.

It Needs: To spend less time trying to impress us with special effects, and try just telling us an entertaining story instead.

DVD Extras Two choices of audio commentary, hunt sequence animatic, opening deleted scene, visual effects how-to DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Planet of the Apes (2001 Version), The Time Machine (1960 version)

Summary

Entertaining in parts, but shallow and nonsensical in far too many others. Not bad for filling an hour-and-a-half – but only if you’ve got a time machine of your own handy so you can then go back and watch something better.

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