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The Time Machine
cast: Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Mark Addy, and Orlando Jones

director: Simon Wells

96 minutes (PG) 2002 Warner VHS rental
Also available to rent or buy on DVD
[released 7 October]

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by John M. Peters
One of the things that most irritates me about these movie versions of The Time Machine is that the science and creation of the machine itself is always ignored and we are expected to believe that such technology just happens - but then, H.G. Wells himself didn't dwell on it, so why should we expect the moviemakers to? Wells was too busy with his own agenda of playing fortuneteller about the way humanity would evolve in the future and had his own socio-political axe to grind.
   Which brings us to the latest Hollywood version of Wells' classic SF novel, and things don't look too good, I must say. The location of the story has been shifted to turn of the century America and viewed through extremely rose-tinted lenses, too. The setting is pure greetings card Americana: chestnuts roasting on the street corner, ice-skating in Central Park, horse-powered cabs. Wells' scientist hero has a fiancée who is murdered during a mugging and his frenzied attempts to alter history fail with him being accidentally catapulted 800,000 years into the future, where he meets the Eloi and the Morlocks. While the special effects are, as you'd expect, pretty good, the movie itself is pretty pedestrian, with much of the plot predictable to the nth degree. Jeremy Irons' cameo as the Morlock leader is supposed to add some sort of weight and import to the fact that the Eloi and Morlocks are mutations of the same genetic DNA, but the actor is sadly wasted in what is a thankless role - just like he was in Dungeons & Dragons.
   I guess it doesn't help that The Time Machine is such a well-known classic tale that any new movie can hold very few surprises if it remains faithful to the source material. This new version is okay, and it looks good under its new coat of fresh paint. But there's little conviction in the acting and it doesn't add anything to the original 1960 version.