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Sunday February 5th

Rusty Gears, Plot Line Plauge H.G. Wells' Revised 'Machine'


1 Star

What has the world come to when a movie based on H.G. Wells' classic book "The Time Machine" ends up being a huge letdown?

According to the film, the world has come close to being obliterated by humongous gray chunks of a crumbling moon while large, mutated beasts called Morlocks systematically feed off of mankind.

At least that is the vision director Simon Wells ("The Prince of Egypt") gives to viewers in this disappointing remake of his great-grandfather's novel.

Guy Pearce ("The Count of Monte Cristo") stars in this motion picture no-no as Professor Alexander Hartdegen, an absent-minded inventor exploring the concept of time travel.

When his fiancee Emma, played by Sienna Guillory, is unexpectedly killed in a mugging, Hartdegen decides to build a time machine to help bring her back to life.

Unfortunately the professor's plan doesn't work, and he is forced to travel into the future to discover why he cannot save Emma from death.

Hartdegen's machine may travel at the speed of light, but it drags as a film. Viewers are forced to suffer through almost 30 minutes of exposition that ends up having almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

In fact, there are several scenes that seem disconnected. As Hartdegen jumps back and forth between millennia, a seemingly endless line of scenes meant to give viewers a glimpse into the future are haphazardly splattered across the movie screen.

Hoping to tie these otherwise pointless scenes together, Wells throws in several random flashbacks of what Hartdegen and Emma's life might have been like if she had lived.

But not even a thousand flashbacks can camouflage Wells' obvious decision to sacrifice much of the 1895 novel's original plot for the sake of big action sequences between the dart-spitting Morlocks and the helpless Eloi people. Despite all the director's efforts, the scenes are still frustratingly predictable and do little for the movie.

What it really comes down to is that a mountain of criticisms can be made about Wells' remake of the "Time Machine."

Some people are bound to complain about the childlike language the Eloi people employ in the movie. Rudimentary and repetitious, it sounds more like a code language created by adventurous young boys than one meant to fit an entire race of people.

Others will no doubt sneer at Uber-Morlock's (played by Jeremy Irons) convoluted explanation of why Hartdegen is indeed unable to change the past.

But regardless of what people say Wells should have done to make the film better, the truth is that there was probably nothing he could have done to save this picture.

The subject of time travel has been so exploited in Hollywood that few pictures stand the chance of being big successes when they illustrate this cliche.

And given the year H.G. Wells wrote the novel, there just isn't any way his great-grandson can skirt the inevitably outdated nature of "The Time Machine."

The Arts and Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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