Reviews and Thoughts

Joe Glickman
was an extra in the film, read his review of the film
Joe also has provided photos
taken behind the scenes in New York
Have you written a review or wish to express your thougths, you can add them to our message board or send them to me to be posted here.

Bruce Holroyd

I went out to see the new "Time Machine" film ... and my opinion? Give me the Rod Taylor version anyTIME! I was duped by the promos into believing that this updated version was a tribute to H.G.Wells and George Pal.... it may have had slight connections here and there, but only in the most subtle of images. First of all...the title credit... it did not possess the impact of power that George Pal's intro did! That was the first indication that the new movie was not going to come close to the original in scope and nostalgic effect! I never really felt as though Alexander Hartegen was traveling through time at all... just through a fancy array of special effects! The future of 802,701 seems to be a throwback to the days of the cave dwelling tribes of prehistory.... I never felt that I was looking at the far distant future at all! Hartegen never really explained to his friend, Philby (note the spelling is different for this film...I don't care much for that change either) about the creation of the machine or his theories on time travel. In fact, I was led to believe that his friend never really knew exactly what Hartegen was involved in...or how deeply! There was no introduction of a small model that gave viewers a teasing taste of the big surprise behind the curtain in the laboratory; no hint of what time travel really was or Hartegen's obsessive belief that the natural boundaries of the fourth dimension could, in fact be violated and mastered by the person sitting in the chair of the machine... I thought that I would find quite a lot to like about this film after all... but upon watching it in subdued disappointment (to some extent), I discovered that my initial reservations were reflective instincts that I should have listened to a lot more closely! Still, I kept on telling myself not to be too harsh...it is still "Time Machine " material, and in no way will change my love for the MGM classic! Jeremy Iron's character as the 'uber- Morlock (a resemblance of 70's rocker, Johnny Winter) was totally unnecessary, as was Omero Mumba's role as Kalen. I did not find the Orlando Jones portrayal of 'VOX' too much of a worthy substitute for the original 'Talking Rings' of our favorite movie either! In fact, the combination of VOX and the uber-Morlock explaining the separation of the human species through the eons did not have the impressive brilliance of George Pal's and scriptwriter David Duncan's vision! The Talking Rings just seemed so much more 'futuristic!"

Orlando Jones' comedic singing of the "Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version" of the Time Machine (which does not actually exist) was a step over the boundary of believable science fiction... in effect, a really stupid attempt at humor and a stab at the genius of H.G. Wells! I did not agree with the brief stop that Hartegen made in 2030... just check out the bicycles that everyone is riding around... not a very convincing sign of future times, if you ask me! There were quite a number of other disappointments in this movie, but, on the flip side, there were a few things that I did like about it as well! I shall get into their detailing after I try to remember some of the things I found irrelevant and ridiculous. Trying to list them in order is difficult, so I will attempt to jot them down as they come to memory! Watching Sienna Guillory's 'Emma' getting killed twice in less than twenty minutes was a bit ridiculous! What does this girl do? Get accident prone when her fiance shows up and proposes marriage? And there is a surprise ending... something I did not expect... and it depressed me all the more! Watch for the final few minutes of the film to roll by... and you will know what I mean! I will throw in a hint, here... Morlock destruction! When Hartegen makes the final sacrifice of all his years of work, it is rather saddening to watch the method of the Morlocks' extinction! For some reason, the original film was far more imaginative and magical in that Rod Taylor's Time Traveler did not have to make the choice as Guy Pearce's Hartegen did in the new film! Thank God for George Pal's influence, right?
I found the Morlocks in Simon Wells' film far less ominous than the glowing eyed denizens of the dark in the earlier film treatment! Pal's Morlocks just seemed more mutant-like while the new Morlocks appeared to be nothing more than simian representatives of a warped evolution process! In any event, they just were not too scary! The only scene that really impressed me was the fight on the weathervane... or windmill...or whatever the thing is that Pierce climbs to evade his pursuer ( I seem to recall it being referred to as a sort of way to 'remember the older ones' in the Eloi village. I was also impressed with the speed of these new monsters, especially in climbing and running through the underground tunnels! So.... there are some of the little quirks I have about this new film. On the whole, not a very worthy successor to the George Pal classic!
Now in contemplation about certain time aspects of the film, consider this.... when Alexander travels back to save his fiance, Emma, from her fate, isn't it rather strange that he is once again dressed as he was when she got 'offed' the first time around? I mean... same outfit, same hairstyle... hmmmm.... it all smacks of one continuity problem at this point! And the scene in the flower shop with that short cameo by good ol' Alan Young as the flower salesman... way too short! Young deserved a much more detailed scene than that! The guy is a veteran of the subject of the fourth dimension, you might say! His best buddy took off years ago in the original Time Machine! During this scene, I was inclined to feel as though poor Emma was accident prone or something... almost to the point that her character might as well have said, "Well, my beloved Alexander has left me for a few seconds...it's time for fate to put its cold touch on me once again.... OH! what do you know? A runaway horse-drawn cart... coming towards me! Bye Alex! I love you!" That's it! She's dead and there is just no way that Alex could have ever saved her at all! But here, again...if he was in the area a second time, how come he did not actually see himself with Emma when he arrived from the future? Guess it all can be chalked up to another of those perplexing paradoxes we are given in time travel stories from 'time to time'....

Let's reflect on the machine, itself: glorious in appearance ( though not the Victorian beauty of the original movie), powerful in its purpose, but we moviegoers and TM fans are introduced so abruptly to the thing...I had to stop and think for a second... what happened to the sales pitch on time travel? Where is the 'experimental verification' ( to quote the Master Author, himself)??? It is merely a situation of... "Here she is! The Time Machine! It travels through time... believe it!" Whereas, in the 1960 movie, Rod Taylor seems rather uncertain himself at the capabilities of his new, untested craft... Alex Hartegen is the self-confident scientist and he doesn't need to guess at all....or even wonder about whether time travel is possible! He merely steps into the machine and we're off! I cast my vote for Taylor's much more convincing self doubts within, his innocent lack of belief in his own convictions...not knowing "what will come next"... Guy Pearce's machine whisks him off to a future unknown, but personally speaking, I was not fully convinced of what I was seeing on the screen... the time travel techniques were good, even fun to watch...but when our brave traveler stops in the year of 802, 701, and he departs the machine after doing a check-up on it, he doesn't even take the control lever with him! At least, I never saw him reach for it...I must have blinked! He did, in fact take the lever with him when he stepped out of his vehicle in the year of 2030... why would he trust it to security in the far millennium of our world??? Makes one think a bit.... but, for now, that about covers my negative complaints on the movie....
Now, let me say that I found a few things I did like.... for one, the scene where Pearce's Hartegen accidentally drops the charm photo of his fiance on the floor of the machine while beginning his journey through time.... I thought this was handled very nicely! I have often wondered what would happen if you had one of your appendages hanging out of the machine during process of time travel... this film tried to address that event... rather briefly, I admit, but I thought it was effective! It seemed as though Alexander's speed through the temporal void caused him to receive either a nasty burn or a shock when he reached for Emma's photo locket. Very interesting effect to see his hand outside the protective 'time envelope' caused by the operation of his machine! And again, later in the film, the fight with Jeremy Irons' uber-Morlock character inside the machine... I thought that this sequence was handled appropriately as well.... the gradual, time-accelerated destruction of the albino Morlock leader was kind of cool! Sort of a variation of the original film (and in effect, a tribute) when Rod Taylor guns his machine into the future and witnesses the decayed remains of the unconscious Morlock fall into dust! But, in this new film, Hartegen takes us to a place where we TM fans have never been... to the end of the planet Earth! Once more, an all too brief glimpse of a scene that we have always wondered about, but in its total depiction, very effective!!! Even the semblance of the Sphinx was imposing, but not as mysterious in its concealment of a dark threat as was the stone-carved colossus of Pal's masterpiece!
I sort of liked the music, even the catchy, melodic 'Eloi chant' when the cliff dwellings were revealed for the first time... but here, again....what do they have? A choir ensemble in such a primitive society? Too reminiscent of the tribal chants of Africa...not at all a convincing trademark of the future descendants of humanity!

Guy Pierce was pretty good as the Time Traveler, and I did like the way his sheepish character (in the beginning) went through a sort of 'evolutionary process' to become the freedom-fighter of the future!
Samantha Mumba's Mara was convincingly likable... to the extent that I believe she may have a future as a talented actress! Don't get me wrong...I love Yvette Mimieux (always will... she's a BABE!!!).... but Mumba was refreshing as the female lead to Pearce's hero; someone I would want return to, if I were in his shoes...er...his machine!

Oh...and while I have it suddenly come to me... here is another detail I found disappointing... the mental control of the uber -Morlock over the entire Morlock population as well as the Eloi... Sorry! I will opt for the Sphinx sirens over mental telepathy anytime!

"THE TIME MACHINE" -
A NOT SO FAVORABLE REVIEW
Behind the scenes photos

by Joe Glickman
copyright 2002

SUMMARY: The filmmakers' spent so much time trying to get to the end of the movie that they never tell the in-between. Visually great. Everything else sucks. They can't even get the movie poster right! It should read: "When Would You Go?" not "Where...?" He doesn't go anywhere, just like the movie! Rent "Back To The Future," "Quantum Leap," or stand inside a meat locker with spoiling carcasses and take lots of photos so that you can fully appreciate the agony us "extras" suffered through for this sad, pathetic excuse for a film. We have no movie, but we have each other...

CONCLUSION: Guys who direct cartoon characters can't direct real people. That's why he had a nervous breakdown and got canned. Too bad the film didn't receive the same "treatment."

THE REVIEW: Hi, y'all.....If you don't want to know what happens in the film, then stop right here. Otherwise, read on.

OK, let's see: where to begin? How about somewhere in time? The past, perhaps? Let's go back to about a year ago. Standing in sub-zero temperatures freezing our behinds and every other extremity of ourselves waiting for the whole thing to be over with. Who do I speak of? Those of us who were extras in the Dreamworks' adaptation of "The Time Machine." So many people were dying to have an on-screen appearance in the film that they came out in droves just to audition for it. Ultimately, only about 200 or so were chosen, and by the end of the shoot, the crew was lucky to have 75 of us.

I will start by saying that this movie is definitely worth while to go and see, just for the first half hour, which was shot primarily around the Capital Region, with the exception of a few interiors. If you were an extra, you might be lucky to see yourself somewhere in between the depth of field and fog. I caught myself a few times, most notably in an 8-second wideshot. Damn, they cut out my close-up! Anyway, the movie is visually entertaining. Story sucks. But...Looks good. The opening shot was a real nice composite between a digital skyline of Old New York and an actual shot of downtown State Street in Albany. Very pretty. Ok, let's not dance around the issue. Maybe I'm blasphemous for writing this, but just cause it's shot in glorious upstate New York doesn't make the film good.

Let's start with the beginning: Guy Pearce stars as the main character, a mad scientist who has this crazy idea about building a time machine. He buys some flowers that he promises his girlfriend, played by Sienna Guilroy, and meets her in Central Park (filmed at Albany's Washington Park and Schenectady's Central Park). He walks her around the pond and quickly proposes marriage, giving her a ring. Within minutes they are mugged and his love interest is shot dead. Jump to four years later. Pearce, having dedicated his entire time to his creation in an obsessive, compulsive manner, has succeeded in making time travel possible. The time machine looks kick-ass for having been built last century, by the way. So where does he go? Back four years so that he can meet his girlfriend in the park and take her away to prevent the fatal incident that took her life before from repeating itself. He forgets the flowers and she seems under-dramatically upset by it. So he takes her into a buggy to go into town. FREEZE! Ok, let's explore this here. If he went back to the same day and time that he previously lived, why didn't the filmmakers nor he explore the possibility that he would run into himself - the original him that was at the park that day. He doesn't meet her earlier. It's the same exact time. We know this because both times around, the camera repeats a move on this god damn lucky extra passing ice skates out to the same couple! He had one hell of a close-up, too! OK, Joe calm down.

So here lies a paradox that could've made the movie more interesting. Either they should've had him arrive obviously earlier to meet his soon-to-be fiancée or somehow find a way to preoccupy his younger self, while he went to her rescue. This would've given our area more screen time, but I guess it would've also meant us freezing more body parts off. I know! He should've just went behind the bushes where that stupid robber came out of and kicked his ass! Double-team on him with his other self and whoop royal behind. You'll get a kick out of the mugger, too. He's so non-chalant about ordering them to give him everything. I felt like I was watching Monty Python. I guess Central Park was never safe!

So they go into town and he tells her to go back home and he'll be there shortly. She still wants the flowers. No, what she really wants is to open up the plot to allow for the devastation that is about to bestow us. "OK, wait here. Don't move," he tells her as he leaves her outside while he conveniently runs across the street to buy some flowers. Within seconds, we see her trampled by a horse carriage in the background through the window. Yep, she's dead. Again! FREEZE! Sienna, darling, when Guy told you not to move, he didn't mean to stay there even if it meant you were gonna be trampled in a stampede!!! I could see it now, all over the newspapers: "Woman killed in a Horse and Run!" I feel bad about admitting this, but I laughed when she got trampled. One second you saw her, the next minute she was gone. It was hilarious! We can safely assume that she didn't get to enjoy those stupid flowers...But hey, this is the scene that I'm in. 22 minutes and 41 seconds into it. When he comes out of the flower shop and stumbles into the street, the camera pulls back in a wide shot to reveal her dead body laying on the ground. I'm the one all the way over to the right of the frame, with the woman grasping onto me. Ya know what we were both thinkin'? This tragedy would've never happened if it wasn't so damn cold and windy out!!!!

Guy decides he's had enough and embarks to the future - the year 2030 in New York City, to have a question answered: Why can't we change the past? FREEZE AGAIN! Duh!!!! Maybe if you tried a little harder, Mr. Pearce, you could! I mean, c'mon! He tried only one time to change the course of events! Once! After spending four mad years dedicated to building a time machine so that he could save the love of his life from her untimely death, we're supposed to believe he's going to give up after one try?! And as far as I'm concerned, he didn't try hard enough! Go back a day - a week - a year prior! Keep trying! You'll get it right! Next time, remember the flowers! Bill Murray did a better job in "Groundhog Day!" If I could change one thing about the past, it would be the amount of time I spent in the cold hoping that my face would grace the screen at a movie theater near you before I died of frostbitten pneumonia.

Now, off he goes! Into the future. One thing worth mentioning: The time machine remains stationary as it goes through the years. In other words, it stays in the same place. He built it in his greenhouse, which by the year 2030 does not exist anymore. His invention ends up in an alley way by the time he arrives in the future. Out in the wide open for all to see. This is where the filmmakers' really go too far. We're somehow supposed to believe that while Guy spends ten minutes in the library (conveniently located across the street, yet again) nobody outside bats an eyelash at his peculiar monstrosity?! He not only doesn't try to hide the thing, but he's not even issued a ticket for parking in an illegal zone! That'd be funny! Just to see his reaction! And Jeeze - Louise! It's New York City - without an alarm or THE CLUB, that thing would've been gone! So we're forced to swallow this garbage.

And he's off again! This time he only goes a few years ahead to discover New York in near ruins! The city gets destroyed by the moon. It's our fault. We were trying to colonize the rock and we blew it up and out of orbit! Some police officers try taking him away, but get distracted by the fact that they're about to die. That might distract me, too. He gets away. But this time, something goes wrong and he ends up 800,000 years into the future. This sequence, in particular, was very interesting to watch, seeing that the earth goes through some major changes including another ice age. He arrives unconscious. When he awakes, he's in bed without any clothes on, he peeks under the blanket in shell shock like he just discovered something else...And naturally there's a pretty young woman awaiting around the corner. FREEZE! Does this scene ring a bell Sci-Fi fans? Remember "Back To The Future," when Marty McFly gets hit by a car in 1955 and awakes in his future mother's bedroom with only his underwear on. He peaks under the covers to see that he is without clothes and she keeps calling him Calvin. "Why do you keep calling me Calvin?!," he asks. "That is you're name, isn't it? Calvin Klein? It's written all over you're underwear," she replies. I was just waiting for that moment, when out of the blue, something more strange arose. She speaks English!

It's not much of a future he's in. Human beings, if that's what you call them, are at the bottom of the food chain. They live in the jungle, dress like cavemen and most talk in another language, except for this girl and a few others. Man, this is one lucky "Guy!" He gets the evil eye from an apparently jealous caveman who doesn't like the fact that he's bunking with her up in her tree house..but that avenue ends up going unexplored. Yet another great opportunity to further plot development - blown! Oh, and he also bumps into this holographic computer system that was around from the year 2030 in the library that he visited. Yep, it survived nearly a million years somehow and can even remember him! I'd like to know what kind of batteries this thing runs on. Anyone?

There's not a heck of a lot character development here, either. You immediately sense that there's going to be a love connection just because that's how goofy the whole thing is. He doesn't spend more than a few minutes with her before she is swallowed into the ground by a bunch of big, angry, ogre-like creatures running around grabbing people like we catch fish. I think they're just mad 'cause they're ugly. You'll see. Anyhow, to make an already long story short....he goes down to the underworld to rescue her, instead of doing the logical thing and traveling back in time to grab her before all the crap hits the fan. He is captured and is forced to encounter the warlord, played by Jeremy Irons (who you won't recognize) while the girl is jailed before him in a cage. This pale monster of a man can read Guy's mind and knows he's from the past and knows his sorrow and his pain over losing his girlfriend. He tells Guy in no uncertain terms that he's weak because he keeps trying to answer the question "What if?" What if they never got mugged? What if they got married and had kids? Here's one: What if Dreamworks gave me the money to make this movie? Irons lets Pearce go (yah, as if!), but not before they get into a huge fist fight that Pearce wins as they travel further into the future. Both trapped on the machine, with Irons at Pearce's throat, Guy busts a steam valve on the dashboard and aims it at the fiend, ultimately resulting in his demise. When the machine finally stops again in some barren desert wasteland, you think: He can't go anywhere now because it's broke. Think again! He goes back to the underworld and frees Miss Tarzana from her cell. He sets up the time machine for self destruction and then runs with all of the other cave-people. However, it's hard to grasp that they are able to escape with their lives from the atomic blast, when all of the other evil sand creatures that seem to be able to run faster all die. That was pretty smart of him to know ahead of time, pun intended, that his invention was capable of such a catastrophic result. How convenient. That seems to be the theme of the entire film - a lot of convenient circumstances that make it easier for the filmmakers to tell such a stupid adaptation of a classic novel.

Maybe I'm just bitter that they cut out my close-up. My chance at stardom on the cutting room floor. But I can wait for the DVD. So please: Do go to the movie. Enjoy the scenery of Albany, Schenectady and Troy on the big screen. But be prepared to be angry. Angry that the movie lacks any substance, but manages to do so in less than a lousy hour and a half. Angry that Guy doesn't care enough to really try harder to save his girlfriend, but falls for some other future cave chick. Angry that you didn't try to smuggle microwave popcorn into the theater, instead of paying 6 bucks! Is time travel possible? You may hope so by the end of this film. Oh, and when you go to the film, make sure to look at the seat before sitting down. Otherwise, you may end up with gum on your toosh.

Anybody who has a big problem with my review can do one of three things:

1) Eat it

2) E-mail me and let me know what you thought of the film - even if you disagree.

3) Read it over and get more pissed

And they all live happily ever after...


Joe's original page can be viewed here

© Copyright 2002 - Joe Glickman
www.crystalhorizon.com

 

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