HTF REVIEW: "The Time Machine" (with screenshots) - REPOST

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 8, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Time Machine

    Studio: Dreamworks
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG-13
    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
    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.
    Special Features
    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
    Digital Domain.
    (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
    he has.
    (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
    International Trailer.
    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
    great detail.
    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
    27 pounds.
    Final Thoughts
    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
    to it.
    Not even worth a rental.
    Release Date: July 23, 2002
  2. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    OUCH! That's one blunt review! But the "freak factor" will probably get the best of me and I'll use my 2 for 1 coupon to check it out. It's the car wreck syndrome.
  3. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

    Dec 20, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Peter Apruzzese
    Nice review of a bad, bad movie. Too bad the DVD is so good - I'm sure a lot of people will pick it up regardless of the quality of the movie.

    Thanks for telling it like it is on this turkey, Ron.
  4. Doug Schiller

    Doug Schiller Supporting Actor

    Dec 16, 1998
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    I was hoping that they would have included the original, uncut, "Moon falling to earth" destruction scene.

    But, I guess not.

  5. Brenton

    Brenton Screenwriter

    Jun 25, 2002
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    This film would have been a hundred times better if it had utilized computer effects to bring H. G. Well's novel to life, rather than to create its own story.

    It was disappointing to see that the Eloi had been portrayed as the "regular humans", while the Morlocks are monsters. In the novel, both species are anything but human. The physical description of the Eloi in the novel presented them as being small, light-haired people with large heads, large eyes, pointed chins, small mouths, and no characteristics to distinguish male from female. The Eloi are simple, child like creatures with no intelligence, no hopes, no dreams. The film presented the Eloi as having a rich, beautiful, tribal culture. In the novel, the Eloi had no culture! That was the theme of the novel! The Time Traveller found that the seperation of the working class from the upper class had caused the human race to divulge into to inhuman species, neither of which represented the past hopes and aspirations of man! For the film to present the Eloi the way they did flies in the face of the theme of the novel.

    As much as I hated to see the film so off from the novel, and as bad as it all sounds, I actually thought the film was enjoyable. As the film version of the novel, or as the remake of the original film, it was terrible. But on its own, the film really came off well. I can't understand why it bores you so, Ron. I didn't find myself bored one bit.

    Unlike many people here on the forum, I don't buy every new release, or even the ones I like. I only buy a film that I really expect to watch repeatedly. For this reason, althought I liked this film, I never planned to buy it. However I will probably rent it, and I recommend that you all do too.
  6. cafink

    cafink Producer

    Apr 19, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Carl Fink
  7. Brian Bunn

    Brian Bunn Second Unit

    Oct 26, 1998
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    It is not even worth a rental only to see the beautiful Samantha Mumba? Don't know how much screen time she gets but if I were to rent that may be the reason![​IMG]
  8. Brenton

    Brenton Screenwriter

    Jun 25, 2002
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  9. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

    Jan 6, 2001
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    West Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    T R Wilkinson
    this was an atrocious film, the person i was with wanted to leave!

    i do however love guy pearce and that got me through it.

    I am fascinated to listen to the commentary though and hear about the films production difficulties and the bits that Gore Verbinski directed

    THAT alone is worth a rental....

    Though i have to say no matter how bad this was i STILL liked it better than the original. the problem with both films is that they fall apart once you leave either the 60s or the 2030s
  10. Nick P

    Nick P Second Unit

    Feb 11, 2001
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    Wow...that's a pretty harsh review Ron.[​IMG] I enjoyed the film very much personally although I have not seen the 1960 version nor did I read the book so I can't compare. My only complaint is that the film was way too short. It should have involved more character development and more time travel.
  11. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Dec 4, 1999
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    The big problem with this movie was the unnecessary love story, which was handled fairly well, then totally dumped.

    Orlando Jones was for once, not annoying, but I'm sure grandpapa is rolling over in his grave seeing what sonny-boy did to his book

    How to do a good book adaption: DON'T REWRITE THE FREAKING BOOK!
  12. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

    Aug 13, 2000
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    This review does only one thing for me. It makes me want to watch the original again. [​IMG]
  13. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

    Sep 30, 1997
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    Utah USA
    Real Name:
    Wes Peterson
  14. Randy B A

    Randy B A Supporting Actor

    Feb 11, 2002
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    I will get if for nothing else to put on the shelve next to the origional and "time after time" I did enjoy the first half of the movie, it just fell apart in the second act. it looked a little to much like the POTA remake.
  15. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

    Oct 20, 2001
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    Wait a second...rated "R"? I thought this was PG-13!
  16. Steeve Bergeron

    Steeve Bergeron Cinematographer

    Feb 3, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Steeve Bergeron
  17. Peter Overduin

    Peter Overduin Supporting Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
    Likes Received:
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    The film is indeed rated PG-13.
    That was an oversight on my part. I have
    updated the information.
  19. Todd_B

    Todd_B Second Unit

    Jul 16, 2000
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    Ron, you just saved me some money!
    I was going to pick this up, but after reading Ron's review, the disc has been delegated back to 'rental status'.
    Thanks for being so blunt w/your review. It's very much appreciated.
    Todd B
  20. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
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    Real Name:
    John Steffens
    I will also throw in, and say that this movie was really bad.
    It had potential in the first 10 minutes(or so), but when they did the future thing and those stupid just ruined it.

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