The Time Machine (2002)
I never got round to seeing The Time Machine during its initial release. The marketing at the time placed a lot of significance upon the fact that the director, Simon Wells, was H G Wells grandson. This made me somewhat suspicious because apart from novelty value, this really has no bearing on the movie in any real capacity. Finally having finally watched the film, my immediate conclusion is that it falls between two stools. The Time Machine starts as a romantic drama and then later on tries to re-assert itself as an action driven adventure. Unfortunately it does not commit fully to either, resulting in a rather odd, melancholy film.
In the 1960 original, the Time Traveller (Rod Taylor) was driven by sciencetific zeal and found love along the way. In this re-imagining, our hero Dr. Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) embarks on his journey through time and space as the result of the death of his fiancée. After witnessing the partial destruction of the moon in 2030 Alexander arrives at a distant point in the earth's future where the surviving humans have become a homogeneous race, preyed upon by the mutant Morlocks. He meets a sympathetic woman from the Eloi tribe called Mara (Samantha Mumba) and subsequently has to decide whether to continue to try and change his past or accept his fate and stay with her in the future.
For once rather than being lumbered with a movie that out stays its welcome, The Time machine actually suffers from being a little too short. The characters he meets in the future are somewhat ill defined and could all benefit with a bit more development. As a result a lot of their motivations seem vague. Orlando Jones cameo as the holographic computer interface Vox 114 is also a rather clumsy plot device and is used purely for the purpose of plot exposition. Jeremy Irons’ brief appearance at the end of the final act as the Über Morlock, is rather reminiscent of Bond confronting Blofeld in his volcano lair. Why the villain of the movie would let our hero go seems somewhat illogical.
Yet it’s not all bad. Guy Pearce is very watchable and there are moments of humour when Orlando Jones is on screen. The attack upon the Eloi by the Morlocks is very well staged and quite scary. The final cannibalistic revelations are also quite ghoulish without being too obvious. Overall The Time Machine provides a lightweight evening’s entertainment, if you are undemanding. Just don't make the mistake of comparing it to the original as it really isn't the same sort of movie and don't scrutinise the plot too closely. There is a better film in there trying to get out. I suspect that there may have been some heavy handed editing made upon the initial workprint. Something that is increasingly common these days, when a studio finds itself with a movie they are not entirely sure what to do with.