Machine Might not be the Best Use of Your Time
- Tuesday, February 19, 2002
The Time Machine - PG-13
Best for: Mature young teens.
What it's about: When scientist and inventor Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) loses his fiancee, Emma, to a tragic accident, he invents a time machine to go back in time and change the future. At first his experiment proves successful, but when tragedy strikes, the grieving professor jumps into his time machine and sets off for unknown lands, hurling 800,000 years into the future. There he meets an Eloi tribesman who takes Alexander in and teaches him how to survive with Mara (Samantha Mumba) and her brother Kalen (Omero Mumba). Orlando Jones plays a hilarious computerized hologram named Vox who escorts Alexander through time. Jeremy Irons plays the head of the Morlocks, who feed on the Eloi for food and sport.
The good: This is pure popcorn entertainment, with a little bit of romance, lots of action and plenty of special effects. A couple of scenes will have you jumping out of your seat. The time machine looks like a magical work of art that wouldn't disappoint H.G. Wells himself; I just wish we got to see more of it. The sets are unique and colorful, but it's the creepy Morlocks, with their ghostlike demon leader, that will give you the biggest thrill. Wells was a man ahead of his time, weaving into his story issues of futurism, class-consciousness and socialism.
The not-so-good: The story feels incomplete. Certain scenes work, but the film just whets the appetite for adventure.
Two scenes depict a woman's violent death, but the audience I watched the movie with laughed at the circumstances of the second death. A couple of characters are hit by blow darts and dragged under the earth by the demonic-looking Morlocks.
Offensive language: None that I caught. The Time Machine is an English classic.
Sexual situations: A couple of kissing scenes.
Violence: Morlocks attack the villagers and eat human bones.
Parental advisory: Nathan (my son) and I were grabbing each other all the way through the chase scenes. I must have squeezed his hand too tight because he teased me afterward. If you think your little ones can handle demonic-looking monsters who hunt humans (grabbing a few women and children) and jump into sand pits to take them to the center of the earth to eat them . . . be my guest! But I predict your kids will have bad dreams for weeks.
Bottom line: This is a good movie, but it's not a great one. A more extensive script, with more scenes of time travel and more scenes of Irons battling it out with Pearce, would have taken it to the next level. Nate and I agreed that the ending could have been better.
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