The Time Machine
2 out of 5 stars
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The Time Machine Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
Here's another bland Hollywood remake of a European classic novel, the second this year to star Guy Pearce (skip also The Count of Monte Cristo). This time HG Wells' groundbreaking Victorian thriller is filmed by his great-grandson Simon. It's efficient and slick, but adds nothing new to either the original story or the earlier 1960 film version. In 1899 New York, an inventor (Pearce) is so tormented by grief that he builds a time machine to change the past, but while testing his theories he propels himself first to the early 21st century then 800,000 years into the future where he meets a woman and her little brother (Samantha and Omero Mumba), members of a peaceful tribe of humans battling the evil Morlocks and their vile leader (Irons).

The story itself is terrific, and while screenwriter Logan (Gladiator) sticks to it he's on solid ground. But his frequent wavering leaves the film soggy and stupid, sacrificing logic for contrived movie moments that just don't work at all. The international cast is fine, but as the plot drifts into increasingly nonsensical drivel, it leaves them buried in bad dialog and pointless action set pieces. (And in Irons' case: appalling makeup, contact lenses and hair.) This isn't to say that it's badly made; it isn't. It just shows a profound lack of inventiveness and imagination from top to bottom--from set design to story themes. But that doesn't keep the filmmakers from pounding in their feeble message anyway. Ho hum.

cert PG adult themes, violence 17.May.02

dir Simon Wells
scr John Logan
with Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Orlando Jones, Mark Addy, Phyllida Law, Omero Mumba, Sienna Guillory, Yancy Arias, Josh Stamberg, Laura Kirk, Alan Young
release US 8.Mar.02; UK 31.May.02
02/US 1h35

Absent-minded professor. Alexander needs his friend to help him get the girl (Addy and Pearce)

pearce mumba irons jones
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall