I can vaguely recall reading the science fiction novel “Time Machine” by H.G Wells (“Island of Dr. Moreau”) years ago; in my adolescent mind I made the creatures into the most frightening beings I’ve ever known.
The author’s grandson, Simon Wells (“Prince of Egypt”), has just released the remake of the novel and surpassed my high expectations to see those horrible creatures come to the screen and the great story be acted out.
It is a desire that most people in the world experience at least once in their life: the desire to go back in time to change something that went badly. For Alexander Hartdegen, the scientist played by Guy Pearce (“Memento”), the event he would like to change is the death of the woman he loves. Hartdegen’s futile attempts to save her life set him on an adventure into the future seeking the answer to the question “why can’t someone change the past?”
The adventure Hartdegen embarks on calls for special effects that are a spectacular visual treat. Although the visual effects are the selling point of this sci-fi action/adventure movie, the acting is also well done. Guy Pearce, the incredible talent from “L.A. Confidential,” again creates another unique screen character. From “Memento” to “The Count of Monte Cristo,” we always watch Pearce make distinct and honest choices with his character, which helps the cause of any movie he lends his talent to.
18-year-old pop-star Samantha Mumba, the artist behind the song “Gotta Tell You,” actually turns out a surprisingly good performance as the beautiful Eloi, Mara. The evil villains that torment the Eloi, the beautiful creatures that walk above ground are the Morlocks, the vicious and hideous creatures of the underworld. The costume design headed up by Deena Appel (“Austin Powers”) and Bob Ringwood (“Excalibur” and “Batman”) truly create a perfect depiction of the monstrous Morlocks and how they were said to be in H.G. Wells’ novel.
The movie is well worth the money. It is an entertaining experience and a new take on what will become of our world. The effects are brilliant, the acting is solid and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat; the very brief performance of Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”) could put a chill down your spine.
The flaw, however, is too large to overlook. The ending was wrapped up so quickly that you are left wondering what exactly happened. They did, briefly, touch on the point that H.G. Wells very eloquently addressed in his novel – no one can change the past, but we can all change the future.
The book spent more time on developing the point and the movie rushed through it as the ending began to close. So with the hurried ending, this movie receives a very solid B. n
Suggestions with Guy Pearce: “Ravenous,” “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Rules of Engagement.”
Suggestions with Jeremy Irons: “Lolita,” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” “Kafka,” “Reversal of Fortune.”