Time travel. Widely considered to be impossible by people with fancy papers in frames above their desks, it’s still an interesting topic to discuss. Hell, just look at the number of Doctor Who fans we have on this site alone. HG Wells created a new genre when he wrote the The Time Machine way back in 1895.
And in 2002, his great-grandson actually turned it into a damn good film as well, that got a little too much of a savaging from critics back then.
Based on the classic sci-fi novel by H.G. Wells, scientist and inventor, Alexander Hartdegen, is determined to prove that time travel is possible. His determination is turned to desperation by a personal tragedy that now drives him to want to change the past. Testing his theories with a time machine of his own invention, Hartdegen is hurtled 800,000 years into the future, where he discovers that mankind has divided into the hunter – and the hunted.
At it’s heart, The Time Machine is a love story, but a tragic one. Filled with a desire to save his love from dying, Alexander builds that chrono-cruising contraption to do just that, but somehow finds himself offing his love in new and increasingly gruesome methods every single time, unable to grasp the paradox that he would create if he had indeed saved her.
It’s an 800 000 year journey to understand that, as he sees mankind at its peak in the 2030s, before humanity realizes that blowing up the moon may have been a bad idea, leading to their eventual degradation into the cannibalistic Morlocks. But throughout it all, there’s hope. Hope that the Eloi, descendants of man who happen to not have a taste for vitamin flesh can continue to exist.
Y’know, despite being hunted like cattle with icky blow-guns and then turned into five course meals.
And that’s where as usual, you’ve got a great cast in place. Guy Pearce fills the need of a reluctant hero scientist adequately, but the supporting turns from Mark Addy, Orlando Jones and Samantha Mumba give the film a great spark of fun.
And of course, Jeremy Irons as this guy, who is less evil, and simply a product of evolution and Darwinian theories. It’s a performance that only lasts a few minutes, but it’s one that sticks with you when the end credits roll. As well as some fantastic creature effects, director Simon Wells and secret director Gore Verbinksi managed to create a world that crossed time-streams with ease, from an archaic New York City through to the near and far futures of this planet.
The Time Machine isn’t the greatest time-travelling movie ever made, I’ll concede to that fact. But it’s far from the worst such genre movie to ever hit the silver scree. It’s fun, imaginative and it pays an exciting homage to the source material that it came from, creating an experience that still holds up well today, more than a decade after it released.