The Time Machine
A Good Time Lost
Written by David Duncan
Based on the novel by H.G. Wells
Directed by Simon Wells
Starring Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Orlando Jones, and Jeremy Irons
So it’s full of one dimensional characters, unexplained time paradoxes, and cheesy science jokes, but much like a real time machine, this film does make two hours seem to fly by in seconds. Unfortunately, as a whole, that’s about the best thing that can be said of Simon Wells’ version of his great-grandfather’s classic novel.
Our protagonist Professor Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce), the 19th century counterpart to the absent-minded professor, has his life shattered when his fiancÉe (Sienna Guillory) is shot dead in his arms by a mugger. Driven by obsession, he creates a time machine to go back in time and prevent the tragic event from ever occurring. Unfortunately, he discovers that no matter how he interferes with the past, his fiancÉe is somehow always killed. Thus begins his fantastic journey into various moments in the future to discover the answer to his question, why can’t the past be changed?
During the course of his journey, he discovers that a moon mining operation will go awry and destroy most of civilization. Traveling 800,000 years beyond this event, he finds himself in a strange world where evolution has had a few interesting effects on the survivors of the human race.
With the notable exceptions of Orlando Jones as Vox, the hilariously sarcastic computer generated librarian, and Jeremy Irons as the wickedly twisted Uber Morlock, the acting is this film is mediocre. Guy Pearce perhaps does the best with what he’s given, but his character’s progress through the film makes little sense. Imagine watching a movie starring Russell Crowe where he starts off acting like John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind,” and ends acting like General Maximus Meridus in “Gladiator.” Pop singer Samantha Mumba makes her film debut as Mara, but much like the rest of the cast, she simply walks through her part without really adding much to the film.
The most disappointing part of the film is its lack of focus. The second half of the film is an entirely different story than the first half, with very little to connect the two plot-wise, or even thematically. Hartdegen seems to almost forget about his fiancÉe altogether during the latter half of the movie, until one scene at the end attempts feebly to tie everything together. Also, the movie seems to preach that when humans shouldn’t mess with the course of nature, but then the last fifteen minutes of the movie entirely defies that idea.
Though far from living up to its classic predecessor, the movie is enjoyable if you’re willing to not think too hard. However, if you’re going to see it, save yourself the time and money and rent it on video.