The Time Machine (2002)
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Review Date: March 04, 2002
Director: Simon Wells
Writer: John Logan
Producers: David Valdes, Walter Parkes
Guy Pearce
Orlando Jones
Jeremy Irons
A scientist who doesn't like to wear bowler hats like everyone else in his day, creates a machine to travel back through time in order to change a certain occurrence, which took a loved one away from him. Once caught up in the machine, the poor bastard is taken to a place that he never imagined, and unfortunately for the audience, takes us with him.
Whatta friggin' mess! I'm really not the type of person to knock movies just for the hell of it (I generally always find something nice to say about any film), but what the hell is going on this year? It feels as though it's turning into the dumping year of the crappy movies. Here's another film that was delayed from the fall of 2001, and given what I saw on the screen this morning, they should have kept this puppy under wraps for a lot longer than that (I only wish I could use the contraption to travel back in time and get my money back!) What the hell happened here? The movie starts off pretty good, with a good setup via a romance, authentic old-time settings and Guy Pearce looking a lot like Tom Cruise in VANILLA SKY, while still coming through as per his usual style, but as soon as the man gets into that gleaming time machine...the movie careens into shitsville and makes no pit-stops to wipe. Wow, what a letdown! And what exactly are the film's many, many problems? Well, let me count the ways. First of all, the film loses its motivation. Pearce's character starts off on a journey to reinvigorate someone who was lost to him in the past, but it doesn't take long for him to land on some "monkey island", on which he inexplicably forgets all about his previous years of hard work, dedication and passion, and decides that getting involved in the lives of some jungle-people, who he only met for one evening, is suddenly the greater priority. Needless to say, the rest of the movie is spent on "monkey island" (I know it's not an island but it just reminded me of another crappy flick, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU), and little ol' scientist guy somehow turns into action-hero dude with the hots for a jungle-maiden with firm breasts (dude, they were nice tits but how about trying to follow up on those ambitions which you laid out for us in the first half hour of the movie?)

Which leads to the film's second big mistake and that is not knowing what kind of movie it wants to be. It starts off in the romance arena, downshifts into a sci-fi flick, which was cool and to be expected, but it isn't long before monsters are scattering about, trying to cage humans (perhaps they thought they were shooting a sequel to PLANET OF THE APES?) and all of a sudden, it's a plain ol' action/horror movie, with little originality, enthusiasm or involvement for the audience (CONGO anyone?). So you don't care about the main character because he apparently gives up on the dream, you don't care about the people living on "monkey island" because they barely speak English and you don't know much about them, and to top it off, the film slaps plot holes the size of my ass into the game, and it isn't long before you realize that you're watching an actual cinematic debacle materialize on screen. Add to that, an overbearing score, which the director likes to overuse to emphasize non-impressive moments in the film (oh wow, matte paintings in the sky and hammocks hanging off the side of a cliff...bombast that music!!), Jeremy Irons continuing to work hard at destroying his once-burgeoning acting career while turning into the king of goofy over-the-top parts (he plays the leader of the monkey-people in this film, or at least that's what I understood from his lame explanation scene), and one of the most obvious plot device characters (i.e. superfluous) that I have ever seen in any film, played by Orlando Jones, whose computer generated character was somehow (get ready for this!) able to survive 800,000 years of change on earth, and still function as an all-knowing computer (even though everyone is living in huts and electricity is nowhere to be seen). Yikes!

Again I ask...what the hell were they thinking? These jokers might've gotten together for drinks with the crew from ROLLERBALL and bet each other as to which production can drown a good premise faster first. It's no wonder that director Simon Wells fell out of this production with about 18 days left in shooting due to "extreme exhaustion" and THE MEXICAN's Gore Verbinski replaced him the rest of the way. Wells probably realized what a dud he had and no matter what was done to it (the film also seems to be missing patches here and there, and barely runs for 90 minutes), he was going down for the count. Jumbled, plot points left open, inexplicable motivations, so-so effects (although the changes over time were cool) and monsters who seemed to be auditioning for parts in the next LOTR flick, this movie disappointed me in many ways but most of all, it just plain sucked on an entertainment level. BTW, I haven't read the book, so I could really give a rat's ass if it was like the book or not...either way, the movie blew!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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