The Time Machine



USA 2002
dir. Simon Wells
script: John Logan, David Duncan (based on the book by HG Wells)
cinematography: Donald McAlpine
editing: Wayne Wahrman
lead actors: Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Orlando Jones
96 min

It is a shame that this film obviously not benfitted from the director’s gene-pool (he is in fact the great-grandson of the prophetic writer HG Wells) but instead the sibling curse has reared it ugly head. This time though it is not diluted by the four generation gap but purified and concentrated into a brand new category of film-making.

But, what is that category? Well with all these amazing special effects spiralling around it can’t be straight-to-video. That’s right, it’s straight to DVD! As the final credits roll you can almost smell the plastic shrink wrap drying on the DVD’s as the crew put the finishing touches to the behind the scenes vignettes… But enough about that, what was it actually like?

Well, not bad. At least not really bad. The plot, for those of you who skipped four generations goes Prof meets girl who dies, can’t change past despite building time machine, goes to future for answers, wanders about, bump on head, goes too far, bumps into Samantha Mumba and rent-a-villain Jeremy Irons (see also Die Hard With a Vengence). Hang on – Samantha Mumba???!!!

The first thing I thought after seeing this was – this is the vehicle Guy Pearce will use to break into the Holywood big time (see also the similarly themed Count of Monte Cristo). He acts well, interacts well, looks great on camera, oozes ‘I can do action as well as serious and I might even be worth $25 million a film soon’ after proving his indie-cred in the untouchable Memento and all this while playing opposite a girl who is a very, very poor pop star back here in Blighty. And her baby brother. Let’s face it Mumba just about measures up there with the star of Wells’ first outing: Fievel the mouse in An American Tail : Fievel Goes West.

Personally I think that Wells should have pulled a Quentin Tarantino / Kevin Smith relying on actors he has used previously – just look at the list: Helen Mirren, Ralph Fiennes, Steve Martin, Val Kilmer and um… Felicity Kendall. Well maybe not but this is Wells’ first live-action.

If you have seen everything else at the multiplex, go and see this because it is rainy-Sunday afternoon fodder, perfectly enjoyable with great effects but never really getting off the ground. Guy Pearce is excellent and even the Mumbas can’t ruin his performance, just beware the straight to DVD aspects of it.

23rd April, 2002

by Adam Maxwell
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