Clockstoppers
2 out of 5 stars
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There's an intriguing premise at the heart of this teen sci-fi adventure, but the film is strangely made for audiences who are around 8 years old. It's fairly enjoyable, but far too bland and unadventurous to be of much interest. The story centres on Zak (Bradford), a cool high schooler with a serious scientist father (Thomas) and the usual patient-caring mom (Sweeney). He starts flirting with Francesca (Garces), the new Spanish exchange babe, then discovers that the watch he got from his father can slow down time--or rather speed up his molecules to he can race around in "hypertime". After he and Francesca get up to all sorts of goofy mischief, they discover there's a big plot afoot involving a sinister government agent (Biehn) and a bumbling scientist (Stewart). And that Zak's dad has been kidnapped.

The whole thing plays like the pilot for a Saturday morning TV series--colourful and very shallow, with teenagers acting more like prepubescents who don't have a care in the world, and villains whose threats are hardly that threatening. Meanwhile the cast has enough charm to keep us fairly engaged, the effects are very good, and I suppose it's nice to see an action movie with no guns whatsoever (just paintball and ice sprayers). But this is quite clearly aimed at very young children. Teens will recognise it for the artificial silliness that it is, while adults will just endure it because it's mildly diverting and has a vaguely intriguing premise. Frakes' direction is adept, in a TV-movie sort of way, and at least he keeps things bright and energetic. If only he had given the film just the tiniest hint of real life. Or at least some warped humour for the grown-ups.

cert PG themes, suspense 23.Aug.02

dir Jonathan Frakes
scr Rob Hedden, J David Stem, David N Weiss
with Jesse Bradford, Paula Garces, Michael Biehn, French Stewart, Robin Thomas, Julia Sweeney, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Lindze Letherman, Jason Winston George, Linda Kim, Ken Jenkins, Esperanza Catubig
release US 29.Mar.02; UK 11.Oct.02
Paramount
02/US 1h34

Best buds. Zak and Meeker (Bradford and Mutambirwa) put aside their lighthearted lives to save the world.

bradford biehn stewart sweeney
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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