Time After Time (1979) (NTSC)

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Released 13-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Nicholas Meyer (Director) & Malcolm McDowell (Actor)
Notes-It's About Time
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Time Machine (1960); The Time Machine (2002)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 111:49
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4 Directed By Nicholas Meyer
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Malcolm McDowell
Mary Steenburgen
David Warner
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Miklós Rózsa


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, McDonalds Restaurant is featured in a scene
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film represents the directorial debut of one Nicholas Meyer, who is probably better known to Star Trek fans as the director of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (almost universally regarded as the best Classic Trek movie ever) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In other words, this guy has been part of the creative and production team for all the even numbered classic Star Trek films - a worthy and notable bit of trivia indeed.

    Well, this film doesn't quite measure up to the stature of the even numbered Star Trek films, but it does have some interesting aspects.

    The premise is that H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) not only wrote The Time Machine, but he was actually clever enough to build a working model in his basement! Unfortunately, he hadn't quite worked up the courage to test it. However, as you would probably have guessed by now, a set of circumstances will soon force his hand. Unbeknownst to him, one of his friends who he has invited to dinner - John Lesley Stevenson (David Warner) - is none other than the infamous Jack the Ripper.

    John has brutally killed a prostitute just before joining H.G. and his friends for dinner at H.G.'s house. H.G. demonstrates his time machine to his guests just before the police track Jack to H.G.'s residence. John makes his escape by using the time machine to travel to "modern day" (circa 1979) San Francisco (the film doesn't quite explain why the machine would travel through space as well as time).

    Needless to say, H.G. is forced to follow John into the future and encounters the wonders of modern American society. How will he find John/Jack? Will he be able to navigate his way through what must be a confusing place and time? Once he finds John, how can he stop John from resuming his killing and what is he going to do with John?

    He encounters a bank manager called Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen) who is a "modern" woman who is not afraid of communicating her attraction to H.G. Needless to say, she helps him in his quest to find John and in the process they fall in love. What will John do to her once he figures out the connection?

    This film has a number of nice touches (I rather liked the cinema theatre showing "Exorcist IV" - a film that has yet to be made) but overall I found the storyline too cheesy and the acting somewhat mediocre. By the way - one last comment to Star Trek fans - compare this film with Star Trek IV and let me know how many similarities in the storyline you can spot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer, presented in the intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1, based on a 35mm film print shot using anamorphic lenses. This is yet another Warner Region 1 originated disc that has been rehashed for Region 4 release, so the video format is NTSC and we get FBI copyright warnings.

    In general, the transfer is not too shabby, although there is a fair amount of edge enhancement and grain. Thankfully, I did not notice any significant compression artefacts.

    Details levels are better than average (especially for a film this old) and colour saturation is reasonable though of course not as vivid as a new film - the film print has faded slightly over the years.

    There are four subtitle tracks: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. I turned on the English subtitle tracks whilst listening to the commentary and found dialogue transcription accuracy to be about average.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in Chapter 26 around 79:18 - this is quite well placed as it occurs during a natural pause when the camera is focused on a blank wall and should be unobtrusive on most players.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to both the English soundtrack and commentary track.

    The soundtrack is pretty much what I expected - unexceptional.

    Dialogue was pretty easy to listen to, and I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

    The audio track will sound a bit dull if you engage Cinema Re-equalization, so I would recommend listening to this in Dolby Pro Logic (I or II) and disabling THX mode.

    Surround usage is pretty minimal and limited to background music ambience.

    The original music score is by Miklós Rózsa and sounds somewhat hackneyed and clichéd by today's standards. However, I shouldn't be so unkind given that he was responsible for some of the best film scores ever including Ben Hur.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The only major extra is an audio commentary track.

Menu

    The menus are16x9 enhanced. The main menu includes background audio.

Listing - Cast & Crew

    This is a single still listing cast & crew.

Audio Commentary - Nicholas Meyer (Director) & Malcolm McDowell (Actor)

    Nicholas speaks from the right speaker, and Malcolm speaks from the left. This is not quite a scene specific commentary, as the two often talk about subjects not related to what's happening on-screen, but it is recorded whilst they were both watching the film, as they occasionally refer to it. The usual subjects are covered, such as casting, plot, props, location, and so forth. Apparently Malcolm did some research on how H.G. sounded like in real life (from an old 78 rpm record) and found his voice wasn't "audiogenic" enough for him to emulate. Nicholas also explains the mystery behind why the time travel machine would leave London and arrive in San Francisco - but the reason is really lame, so I won't repeat it here.

    Much is made of the fact that Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen fell in love during the making of this film, and eventually married. My only remaining question which they alluded to but didn't really provide the answer to is: "Who the **** is Susan B. Anthony?"

Notes - It's About Time

    This is a mini essay about films dealing with the subject of time travel, presented over six stills.

Theatrical Trailer (3:04)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and with Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Trailer-The Time Machine (1960) (2:31); The Time Machine (2002) (2:21)

    The trailer for the 1960 version is presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s). The trailer for the 2002 version is presented in 2.35:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192Kb/s).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this are identical.

Summary

    The plot of Time After Time may be a bit cheesy, but this film is still worth watching because it represents the directorial debut of Nicholas Meyer, and there are certain plot similarities to Star Trek IV.

    The NTSC video transfer quality is excellent, marred only by edge enhancement and grain.

    The audio transfer quality is mediocre.

    Extras include an audio commentary track.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, May 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
Susan B Anthony - wolfgirv