March 14, 2002

Time Out

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If someone really wants to experience a whirlwind journey to the past or the future, then one should pick up a copy of H.G. Wells’ book, and forfeit a trip to the movie theater.

With the newest remake of The Time Machine directed by Wells’ great-grandson, Simon Wells, Guy Pearce portrays Alexander Hartdegen, a man who builds a time machine so that he can travel into the past and save his true love from death. When this plan doesn’t work out, he decides to travel to the future to find out why he can’t change the past.

With these forays into different time periods, he glimpses the world of the late twenty-first century for a few minutes and witnesses the moon being blown up. He then spends the rest of his time in a futuristic world full of primitive people and downright ugly monsters.

When Alexander finds his way to the year 802,701, he finds that two races, the Eloi and the Morlocks, are co-inhabiting the Earth. The Eloi have no desire to remember the past and are content to live on the side of a cliff while the Morlocks live below ground and pop-up from the dusty soil to get some Eloi dinner every now and then.

The plot may seem interesting in print, yet is very poorly developed in the film. The only thing the viewer sees is that Alexander is distraught over the death of his true love, and then all of a sudden this time machine appears, (which apparently took four years to make), yet none of this time is shown to the viewer. What happened in the time it took to construct it? In addition, the Victorian time machine sure doesn’t look powerful enough to emit the bright sun rays of light that it does.

Too little time is spent in the other time periods — approximately three-fourths of the movie focuses on the complications between the Eloi and the Morlocks. What happened to the other interesting adventures from the book? Obviously, they weren’t important enough to be added to the movie.

So, the audience is dragged into the world of the Eloi and Morlocks, where the overgrown Morlocks shoot the Eloi with darts that are supposed to stun the victims. Yet, many of the Eloi just rip the darts from their flesh and run away. Another inconsistency is how a scholarly man can win a fight against a monster about six times his size.

The only refreshing parts of The Time Machine is the amazing animation used to make the Morlocks look mean and sinister, along with the Moon chunks floating in the sky — which are just a few of the tricks used in the movie. Pop singer Samantha Mumba does a good job of portraying a member of the Eloi, Mara, who is one of the more believable characters in the movie.

Overall, buying a copy of The Time Machine by Wells’ would be more worthwhile than buying a ticket to the movie. With the poorly constructed plot and little elaboration into the characters, this movie does the book a terrible injustice.

Archived article by Kelly Samuels