from Film Forum, 10/31/02
The latest Christian movie,Time Changer, is written and directed by Rich Christiano. It's a sci-fi adventure about a time traveler who discovers that morality is meaningless without belief in God. The hero, Russell Carlisle, is a Bible professor sent from 1890 to a present in which society has fallen into immorality and chaos. For example, he walks into a movie theatre and hears God's name blasphemed, so he runs screaming out of the building. Later, he admonishes a doorman when he finds out the man is divorced. Will Carlisle ever get back to 1890, a place where such abominations are hard to imagine?
Those Christian film critics who tend to applaud any movie that affirms Christian values are, of course, enthusiastic. But some Christians are not entirely impressed with its message.
Bob Waliszewski (Focus on the Family) says, "Time Changer is built on a foundation that some Christians (myself among them) will dispute. It links America's spiritual decline directly to the teaching of morality apart from the authority of Jesus Christ. Do we cease all moral instruction unless we are allowed to include Christ's authority? Focus on the Family believes it is valuable to encourage teens to be abstinent even if God isn't part of their education. The same goes for teaching such values as honesty, fidelity, the sanctity of human life, etc. I like Time Changer, not for splashy effects, A-list acting or even theological accuracy, but because it provided my family a unique opportunity to discuss several critical issues within a 'movie night' framework."
Holly McClure raves, "This is a thought-provoking journey that reveals how relevant God is for today and boldly explores the importance of God in our culture. Time Changer is an interesting look at the timeless importance of God with a timeless message that could change your life!"
Movieguide's critic says that while "the story sometimes lags in dramatic tension … Time Changer [is an] imaginative and courageous step into feature filmmaking."
Mainstream critics don't find it very interesting, timeless, or even worthwhile. Joe Baltake (The Sacramento Bee) calls Carlisle "a judgmental pest, constantly eavesdropping on private conversations and intruding upon them with unsolicited, admonishing advice and pontifications about how to live."
Keith Cassidy (The Miami Herald) writes, "The strong Christian message and denouncement of sin in Time Changer will give many ministers and Bible-study groups hours of material to discuss. But mainstream audiences will find little of interest in this film, which is often preachy and poorly acted. Christiano has a feel for visual storytelling and uses the camera well, but the script is pretentious. His desire to spread his message overrides the story, and some scenes seem so staged that they might just as well carry subtitles declaring: Film's Message—pay attention!''
Lawrence Toppman (The Charlotte Observer) muses, "I wonder how many people will accept his premises that divorce is not only undesirable but wicked; that any scientific knowledge not verified by the Bible is false; that Christian religion should be taught in public schools, not just permissible as personal prayer." He is also bothered that the hero doesn't recognize a telephone or baseball terms, "both of which were common knowledge before 1890."