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The Time Machine

The main problem with The Time Machine is that it is a bad movie.

It starts out slightly silly, then gets annoying, followed by predictable, unintentionally humorous, ridiculous and meaningless, followed by long periods of bad. Then it wraps itself up in blatantly lame with spouts of mere badness and disgust and misery.

So don't go see it.

The story of The Time Machine is taken from the famous H.G. Wells story of the same name. Some guy in the late 1800s builds a time machine and travels forward hundreds of thousands of years and meets a creepy future where mankind has become two races: a bunch of hippie love children who live in an eden-like paradise above ground, and a bunch of moles who live in tunnels and go out at night to hunt and eat the hippies. The original story is a morality tale, a fable, something like that. The dangers of technology, of going too far, of losing humanity, of turning into Morlocks.

The current film infiltrating our theaters, a big-budget action spectacular directed by H.G. Wells's great-grandson, Simon Wells, takes this simple story and inserts what it thinks is meaning. Some guy loses the love of his life, so he builds the time machine to travel through time and try to save her life. Or something like that. Who cares, he ends up hundreds of thousands of years in the future because he falls asleep with his hand on the throttle, and steps into the story we all know and love.

The movie is dangerously stupid from the opening credits. Someone overly steadi-cam happy takes us down a bunch of steps in a school towards a closed door. Problem is, everyone the camera passes begins to look at the camera and react as if the camera's a character. Maybe it's supposed to be--who knows? In the end, it's a really dumb shot that doesn't work and the movie just gets worse from there.

I had such high hopes for this one. They spent a ton of money on it, which is always a good thing. They got Guy Pearce to star as some guy, which is a good thing. They got Jeremy Irons to chew up scenery as the bad guy, which, between this and Dungeons and Dragons, is not nearly the good thing it once was. It's got time travel, which is cool . There's a shot in the trailer of the moon breaking apart, which is totally cool.

But in the end, the movie is a waste of time. The fate of the movie was sealed early on when a very tragic event happens and the entire audience bursts out in unintentional laughter. Didn't they test screen this thing?

Another problem with the movie is that it never does anything. The story just sits in your stomach like a wedge of undigested gouda cheese. He goes backwards into time. He goes forward into time. He goes further into the future. He goes backwards again, forwards, backwards. He somehow saves the world in a way that makes absolutely no sense, movie ends. Lame.

Another problem with the film is the concept that one man in the late 1800s builds a working time machine, travels forward hundreds of thousands of years into the future, and no one else on earth has ever gone and invented another time machine? I mean I'm all for lost knowledge of the ancients, but far as I know, there isn't much knowledge from a hundred years ago that's been lost to science. We can still make fire, ride horses, go ice skating. That's about all they seem to do. What's the big deal?

There is a slight saving grace to the film, Orlando Jones. He plays a computer hologram that contains the sum total of human knowledge. He's cool. I want an Orlando Jones in my house. Very useful for research, term papers, settling bets. Unfortunately, even he ends up with some surprisingly lame dialogue, and an otherwise cool device is relegated to lameness.

Does it look cool? Sure. But you can get the same joy watching a grad student's CGI compilation reel.

After all is said and done, The Time Machine gets 1 1/4 Babylons. If one of you out there has a time machine, travel back in time and convince me not to see this movie.

Editor's Note:

Did anyone else notice how damn skinny Guy Pearce is in this movie? I thought he was wearing prosthetic cheeks. Anyway, the fact that the SMC didn't like this is evidence that someone has taken over the SMC's body, or that there's not nearly enough booty in the year 802,701.

The Time Machine
Rated: PG-13
Directed By: Simon Wells
Starring: Guy Pearce, Jeremy Irons, Orlando Jones, Samantha Mumba, Mark Addy, a big cheesy-looking skull and your uncle's pocket watch.

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