The Time Machine
Film Length: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
"It's only a machine"
Just this once I wish I was capable of building
a time machine so I can regain the wasted time I
spent watching this film.
Not since Battlefield Earth have I been
so frustrated with a science fiction film than
The Time Machine. The film is an absolute
bore fest that wastes more time than explores it.
Perhaps I am being too critical of this film
not having seen the original 1960 film that was
based upon H.G. Well's novel. While that film is
considered a classic of its time, I can't understand
why the remake would play as badly as it does.
Based on the classic sci-fi novella by H.G. Wells
and directed by Wells' great-grandson Simon Wells
(PRINCE OF EGYPT), THE TIME MACHINE is a simple story
of a man thrown into the future as he attempts to
change the past.
Alexander Hartdegen (Pearce) is a physics professor
and inventor in New York at the turn of the twentieth
century. He is absent-minded sort who is about to
marry his sweetie (Sienna Guillory) when tragedy
intervenes. To redirect the course of history, he
invents a time machine, but learns that you cannot
redirect the course of history.
Though the movie starts out sweetly enough,
it never comes full circle. The initial moments
of watching the time machine is kind of neat --
especially the way we are shown the progression
of time via a spider making a web at the top of
Alex's greenhouse, or the constantly-changing
store window mannequin that appears in the building
across from Alex's house. However, once our hero
is catapulted into the year 2030 and beyond, we
venture into ho-hum territory where the earth has
been overrun by some giant, moronic Morlocks who
seem to be auditioning for the next Lord of
the Rings installment.
How is the transfer?
As one would expect, DreamWorks has given us
a fantastic transfer that is very crisp and
detailed with exceptionally solid black levels.
The first 30 minutes of the film look like a
beautiful painting with its shots of snowy
streets at the turn of the century. The film
retains a wonderful warm look. Colors are
well balanced -- especially in the skin tones.
For the first few minutes of the film, I had
accidently listened to the Dolby Digital track.
When I realized the DVD had a DTS track, I went
back and re watched the first 10 minutes. Anyone
who says that DTS is no better than DD ought to
listen to both tracks on this DVD. Upon switching
to DTS, I immediately heard a more spacious sound
environment. The smallest sounds of the Dolby
Digital track now become far more distinct with
a greater sense of direction.
For the most part, this is a very active soundtrack
with powerful, well pronounced audio. The sounds
emanating from the rear channels play such an important
part to this film. From the scurrying of students
in a school hallway to the sounds of a bustling city,
the rears never cease to remind us that there is an
entire world happening around us. The rears also
supply a seemingly never-ending barrage of effects
support from the revving up of the time machine to
a Morlock chase through the thick brush.
The LFE channel is also quite active providing
quick, pounding booms of the time machine to
explosions that had my floor shaking.
Pop in the DVD and you are welcomed by a
short quick collage of high-intensity action
scenes that abruptly end at the Main Menu.
The selections of the menu are laid out like
a time line, with each selection appearing as
you move your remote over each line segment.
As you make each selection, the menu quickly
fast-forwards to a new menu screen.
There are two Commentaries included
on this DVD. The first is by the film's
director Simon Wells and editor Wayne Wahram.
The second commentary is by Producer David
Valdes, production designer Oliver Scholl,
and visual effects supervisor James E. Price.
There's an interesting animated sequence
of "The Hunt" scene set to story boards, sound
effects and music. It took six weeks to put
together this visual presentation that shows
us how the entire hunt sequence was originally
conceptualized. You'll notice the drawings
convey a chase that takes place in an open field.
This came before the idea of adding bamboo brush.
Wild boars were also removed from the original
chase scenes due to budget restrictions. You can
play this entire sequence with or without added
An entire area of this DVD is dedicated to
taking us Behind The Scenes of the film.
Let's take a look at this material....
Actor Jeremy Irons (who plays the leader of the
Morlocks) gives us much insight into his character
and the race of creatures he represents in
Creating the Morlocks. Makeup Effects
wizard Stan Winston admits being a huge fan of
the original book and movie since being a kid.
This was a project he was greatly interested in
recreating for the screen. Actors playing these
creatures had their bodies laser scanned, from
which individual casts were built and sculpted.
Puppeteers contributed to the animatronics of
the creature close-ups.
(length: approx. 5.5 minutes)
Building the Time Machine looks at the
development and design of the most amazing prop
in the film. Production Designer Oliver Scholl
envisioned a spherical object that would open
up like a flower before it took off on its journey.
It took 1,000 architectural drawings and well
over a year to complete. It's pretty amazing to
watch a time-lapse of this machine being built,
and the crew rolling the 4,000 lb. machine onto
the sound stage. The creation of a CG time sphere
is also explored as we look at how the visual
elements were added courtesy of the crew at
(length: approx. 5.5 minutes)
Visual Effects by Digital Domain gives
us very quick glimpse at many of the visual shots,
mainly of which is how time machine travel was
accomplished from within the greenhouse. We also
look at how the time travel process was conveyed
through the changes within Carriage House, with
the addition of digital cars and boxes. In
another sequence, we quickly see how stunt men
portraying the Morlocks were digitally manipulated
to turn into skeletons. The final showdown with
Jeremy Irons eroding from outside the Time Machine
is also shown to us in various layers.
(length: approx. 4 minutes)
There is a single deleted scene which
looks to be the film's originally intended
opening. Here we see the Professor leading
his students across the snow covered grounds
of the Columbia University, showing them an
experiment on fundamental mechanics. The first
notion of time travel is brought up as Peter
Bosco (who I think is the Dean of the University)
warns the Professor that he should not throw
away his career on the outlandish dreams
(length: approx. 6.5 minutes)
A very short Stunt Choreography Fight Sequence
gives you an idea at how the film's climatic
showdown was choreographed.
(length: 40 seconds)
The next section of this DVD is dedicated
entirely to Archives which concentrate
more on the designs of the film, the filmmakers
and cast, as well as the promoting the film.
Let's take a look....
Conceptual Design Gallery consists of
many of the film's original conceptual drawings
and designs broken down into the different eras
that the time machine visits. Many of these
designs can be viewed with aided commentary.
There are a total of three trailers to
watch from the early Theatrical Teaser
to the Original Theatrical to the
This is one of the more elaborate Cast
Filmographies that I have seen on a DVD,
giving very thorough look at the careers of
the film's principal actors.
Even more impressive is the amount of credit
given to many Filmmakers involved in this
project, as their profiles are broken down in
This is probably the most extensive set of
Production Notes I have ever seen included
on a DVD, and it makes for some interesting
reading. It starts off as an overview of the
entire film, basically patting itself on the
back for being able to use modern technology to
create a world that is bigger and better than
George Pal's version. Emphasis is put on the
creation of the Time Machine with its three tons
of aluminum and polycarbonate. There is also
an entire section dedicated to the creation of
the Morlocks from the molds of each of the
actor's body to the suits that weighed about
Anyone hoping on a great film about time
travel is just wasting their time. In Director
Simon Well's attempt of creating a straightforward
and intellectual motion picture, he has ultimately
abandoned credibility. There just aren't enough
ways to describe just how bad this movie is,
and it's a shame that such a credible studio
like DreamWorks had to have their name attached
Not even worth a rental.
Release Date: July 23, 2002