Clock Wise
Time Machine
Review by Ross Anthony

Taking to the screen like some treasured classic of yesteryear, Guy Pearce as scientist/inventor Alexander Hartdegen even seems to imitate a Jimmy Stewart demeanor. The snow falling on a bustling turn of the century (19th to 20th) New York, dress coat donned, engagement ring in his pocket -- you'd almost expect him to pull the ball off the railing post as he scurries down the steps.

But in a flash, the woman of his dreams is taken from his clutches. Four years later he finishes a wall's worth of algebraic equations, draws the curtains and hops into a contraption meant to traverse time in order to undo his love's untimely tragedy. No oiling or tightening, just a bump on the pressure gauge and the prisms begin to whirl. In an instant, he sees his late fiancee alive again. His misery and longing for her surge in a passionate kiss that excellently contrasts the prim and proper complexion of the picture thus far. It's the finest moment of a production all about time.

Though many waste or lose it all together, Alexander finds time less of a pliable instrument than expected and history a stubborn mule. Unforeseen obstacles and complications send him time and again traveling through time, past our present, several hundreds of thousands of years into the future.

Though bold and even admirable, the film's different-than-anticipated direction, nonetheless offers a substantially diluted climax. Sadly, aside from that passionate kiss, the brilliant design of the machine itself and a handful of sharp special effects ... the film leaves few other memento's to remember it by. Additionally, the score vamps themes that we've heard thousands of times before.

Of the "cool" special effects: one includes a fight scene inside the time machine, the resolution of which plays brilliantly. Of course the machine itself is splendidly designed and realized on film, you'll appreciate the way the filmmakers depict it traveling through time, history, plant growth, insect infestations, fashion, while keeping space constant. And though sometimes reminiscent of the new "Planet of the Apes" (that is not a complement), a few shots of futuristic mutants running and jumping and especially burrowing are simply very impressive. However, one tunnel chase scene seems to last forever with our heroes only 20 paces ahead of beings that can outrun them in a heartbeat; quite cartoony and so jittery to watch you'll be closing your eyes for relief.

A fleeting few minutes are devoted to higher level concepts like: class-consciousness, socialism, humanity etc.; but despite some very important sounding quotes, this intellectualism falls quickly to pieces.

A great idea, good send off with bold intentions, that doesn't quite mature; that said, you probably won't be bored.

Interesting notes: Director Simon Wells ("Prince of Egypt") is H.G. Wells' great-grandson. Alan Young (who played Philbey in the original film) cameo's as a flower seller.

  • Time Machine. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Guy Pearce, Mark Addy, Sienna Guillory, Samantha Mumba, Omero Mumba, Jeremy Irons.
  • Directed by Simon Wells.
  • Screenplay by John Logan, based on a screenply by David Duncan, based on the H.G. Wells novel.
  • Produced by Walter F. Parkes and David Valdes at Dreamworks/WarnerBros.


Copyright © 2002. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:51:52 PDT