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Dream Works and Warner Bros. Pictures
Official Site
Directors: Gore Verbinski, Simon Wells
Producers: Walter Parkes, David Valdes
Written by: David Duncan, John Logan; adapted from the H.G. Wells novel, The Time Machine
Cast: Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Orlando Jones, Mark Addy, Jeremy Irons

Rating: out of 5

Going to see the new Time Machine there were two major pitfalls that I was sure the filmmakers would inevitably slip into, so right off I feel I need to compliment them on avoiding one of these mistakes so common to modern science fiction films. So kudos to them, for not spending an enormous amount of time trying on an elaborate pseudo-scientific explanation of how the time machine works. No, instead weíre simply told that Alexander Hartdegen (Pearce) is a genius, who can build a time machine, nuff said.

Alexander builds his time machine so that he can go back to save his fiancťe, Emma, (Guillory, who looks a lot like a young Jessica Lange) from the thief who shot her. Unfortunately she just gets killed again, leading Alexander to conclude that even though he can travel back in time he canít affect whatís happened. Itís interesting that he comes to this conclusion after only one try. I mean he spends four years making this contraption; youíd think he might try going back a couple more times. Oh well, I digress.

To solve his problem Alexander travels into future to try and find out why he canít change the past. He runs into a sarcastic computer genie, Vox, (Jones, much better than Robin Williams in A.I.) who tells him that time travel is impossible, so he goes a little further in time only to find that the moon has broken leading to the destruction of civilization. Again he travels into the future, way into the future, while simultaneously managing to honor the cherished sci-fi tradition of getting his dumb ass knocked out so that he can wake up in a whole new world.

In this particular case the whole new world is a village of sort of new Indians called the Eloi, who, luckily for Alexander, understand English. There he befriends an Eloi English teacher Mara (Mumba) and her little brother. This neo-native paradise does have a catch though óthe subterranean, humanoid Morlocks, who hunt the Eloi for food. Naturally our hero has to travel underground to confront these monsters, where he runs into their albino overlord, the Uber-Morlock (Irons). This all plays out pretty predictably, but how exactly the ending works is sort of mystifying.

Which brings me to the second major problem that I alluded to. The Time Machine makes no sense. Too many whys? Why didnít he try to save his fiancťe byÖ? Why the hell was there so much Lion King music in this movie? Why can he do this, but not that? Granted, this is a problem for most time-travel movies and it would be forgivable if the film werenít so otherwise mediocre. Lacking most of the charm and wonder of George Palís original adaptation, this Time Machine is slick, sentimental, and ultimately pretty forgettable. Probably not worth your time.

Edward Roles

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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