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The Time Machine

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Time Machine

Starring: Guy Pearce, Mark Addy
Director: Simon Wells
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: March 2002
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: Jeremy Irons, Philip Bosco, Samantha Mumba

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Starting with GROUNDHOG DAY whimsy and ending with PLANET OF THE APES dark intensity, THE TIME MACHINE is a mixed bag but an entertaining picture, although it's scarier than its PG-13 rating might lead you to believe. Based on the H.G. Wells novel as well as the original 1960 film, this version stars Guy Pearce (MEMENTO) in a part played by Rod Taylor in the original.

Professor Hartdegen (Pearce) is a scientist who experiences a tragedy that causes him to invent a contraption that's a whirling combination of polished brass and shining glass that looks like a cross between a horseless carriage and a planetarium projector. Of course, it's a time machine. Hartdegen's all consuming passion becomes using his machine to venture into the future to find someone to answer his big question: "Why can't I change the past?"

The first part of his journey is fun, thanks especially to stirring music and charming sets -- the background of director Simon Wells (THE PRINCE OF EGYPT) is all in animation direction. An especially nice scene from this part has the professor watching skirt lengths change over time. This first part is quite funny, featuring large Lunar Leisure Living ads that look straight out of STARSHIP TROOPERS. The film's funniest character is played by Orlando Jones (EVOLUTION). As a literary and scientific know-it-all named Vox, Jones is a holographic card catalog to die for. Of the movie's many self-referential jokes, none is funnier than when Vox plays for us the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version of THE TIME MACHINE.

The less successful second half of the picture is set in the far away future. Using the typical cinematic rule, the future looks more like the past than, well, the future. We also learn a twist on the old rule about not messing with Mother Nature. We also shouldn't mess with the moon. Diehard fans of the original film may be angry that anyone would dare mess with their movie, but I'm here to report that I enjoyed this version.

THE TIME MACHINE runs 1:36. It is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of action violence" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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