The Time Machine (2002)

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Released 22-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Simon Wells & Wayne Wahrman
Audio Commentary-David Valdes, Jamie Price & Oliver Scholl
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Creating The Morlocks
Featurette-Building The Time Machine
Featurette-Visual Effects
Featurette-Stunt Choreography
Gallery-Production Design
Featurette-"Hunt" Sequence Animatic
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer-2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 91:53
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (36:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Simon Wells
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Guy Pearce
Samantha Mumba
Mark Addy
Orlando Jones
Jeremy Irons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Klaus Badelt


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Portuguese
Arabic
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Hollywood remake has always been a troubled beast, and this modern incarnation of H.G. Wells' classic tale of time travel is no exception. Plagued with problems that included a re-write close to the end of production requiring female lead Samantha Mumba to re-shoot all her scenes, the director being forced off the project with only two weeks left of shooting due to "severe exhaustion", and rumours that producer Steven Spielberg was acting as a behind-the-scenes puppeteer pulling all the strings and making sure the movie went in the direction he wanted, the film never really had a chance from the start. Add to that the fact that a key visual effects piece featuring the moon crashing into New York was removed for the New-York-sensitive, post-September 11th world, that the movie has turned out to be as watchable as it is presents a small miracle in and of itself.

    This new version has been Americanised, and now starts in New York with Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) brimming with love and affection for his about-to-be fiancée Emma. In a tragic turn of events, Alex ends up losing the love of his life. He retreats into himself, setting about building a machine in which he can travel back in time and save her. Unfortunately for Alex, he finds that no matter what he tries, Emma still meets her maker, while he is left to watch her demise. In an effort to attempt to understand why he cannot save his love, Alex decides to head into the future. At first he lands in an Earth brimming with people and confidence as they prepare to colonise the moon. The people of 2035 still believe that time travel is a fantasy, so Alex heads off again, still searching for his answers, but very soon there is a problem, and Alex is knocked unconscious as his time-machine races forward. By the time he can stop it, the year is 802701 - and every thing has changed. The human race has divided in two - and now the peaceful and beautiful (and rather simple-minded) Eloi struggle for survival from the dark Morlocks.

    This film version differs quite markedly from both the book and the 1960 film adaptation, although it is closer to the latter than the former. Even ignoring any issues regarding the adaptation - a film, and especially a remake, can never be the same as the source material - this film still goes wrong in many ways. Perhaps the biggest problem is that, despite the mainstream action movie base, it starts off in a dark place that never really lets it recover. When the lead character has the death of his fiancée as his motivations for eccentric adventures, it does not make for an enjoyable start to a movie, and when this dark beginning is just thrown away to turn action movie happy-go-lucky by the end, the clash seems even stranger. As well as the troubled beginning, the finale to the film is sub-par. This story moves at break-neck speed, so much so that by the time the final confrontation with the Morlocks plays out, it only just seems to be getting going - and then it is all over. While many movies seem to be overly long, this is one that is actually too short - it really needed a better thought out and more satisfying conclusion.

    Another problem with the break-neck speed, is that you better like Guy Pearce's Alex Hartdegen, as all the other characters only appear for a short period of time. Mark Addy as Alex's friend David Philby is largely done with by the 20-minute mark, while Samantha Mumba's Mara doesn't even appear until almost 40 minutes in, and even then is not present for all of the remainder of the film. This means that the only character on which the audience can rely is Alex, and he is not a particularly likeable character - there is nothing wrong with Pearce's performance, it is just an unsympathetic character.

    In the end, The Time Machine is aided by repeat viewings - when the terrible shortcomings of the plot, and the strange, almost single-character nature of the film are already known, it is much easier to just enjoy the film for what it is at its heart - formula Hollywood action.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer presented for The Time Machine is excellent. It does fall a little short of being perfect, however it is still a pleasure to behold.

    Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    This transfer is extremely sharp, in fact it is almost to the point of being too sharp. There are many scenes, especially early on in the school, that lose some of their overall detail through the presence of so much fine detail. There is no visible grain at all during the transfer and shadow detail is as good as the sharpness, displaying every little nuance of the darker scenes that were captured on the film. There is no low-level noise present.

    Colours are excellent, and show a nice transition from the late 1800s, at the start of the film, where only Alex's love shows up in a contrast to the drab greys and browns, to the far future, where the plains and forests are rendered in all their lush beauty.

    There are no compression artefacts in the transfer at all, and film artefacts are limited to a few small spots, such as at 74:00 (although the infrequent nature of the film-artefacts means that the few that do appear are a little more distracting). The only real problem with this transfer is - as could be expected from such a sharp transfer - aliasing. While it is not constantly present, there are a very large number of instances, and some quite severe, such as on the wind-mill at 48:51-54.

    The subtitles, while not word-for-word accurate, miss very few words, are well paced, and easy to read.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 36:48 during chapter 13. It is reasonable well placed, occurring on a static screen, although the drop-out in audio still highlights it. It is somewhat annoying that a complete fade-to-black with no audio, occurs just two minutes prior to the layer change, and would have been an even better place for it.

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

Audio

    This is an exceptional audio transfer, living up to the action genre standard and really delivering an explosive experience.

    There are five audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue, and dubs in French and Italian all in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 kbps), as well as two audio commentary tracks, both in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (192 kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. There is, however, a problem at 12:35 where the track appears to "skip" and a single word spoken by Guy Pearce seems shortened. The problem only occurs the once, but it is quite obvious.

    Audio sync is not a problem and is spot-on throughout the movie.

    The score is supplied by Klaus Badelt and runs through a number of influences, including African for the scenes with the Eloi, and is very good. In fact, the score is probably the most outstanding feature of this film, and while that does not say much for the film itself, it does indicate the quality of the score.

    The surround channels are, for the most part, used extremely aggressively to carry the score, ambient effects, and the many, many directional effects used during the action sequences. I say "for the most part", as the early scenes in the school and Alexander's laboratory are very frontal in nature, but once the action moves away from these locales, the ambient effects are more evenly spread, creating an incredibly believable soundtrack.

    The subwoofer is given an extreme workout by this soundtrack. There are many occasions where it receives a long and extended use as well as the faster punches. It also does quite a bit of work backing up the score. All round, quite an impressive soundtrack.

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

Extras

    This disc features a decently sized selection of extras although the quality is somewhat questionable.

Menu

    The menu is static, 16x9 enhanced, themed around the movie, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Audio Commentary - Simon Wells (Director), Wayne Wahrman (Editor)

    This track is nicely engaging, as Wells, in particular, talks with some enthusiasm for his project (although he seems to think that there is nothing wrong with it). There is, unfortunately, no discussion - aside from a few passing references - to the troubles the production had. Overall, this track is worth a listen, but it does not provide an enormous amount of information.

Audio Commentary - David Valdes (Producer), Jamie Price (Visual Effects Supervisor), Oliver Scholl (Production Designer)

    This track is by far the most informative of the two, providing a great deal of information in to the process of the film making. Unfortunately, as a result it is also considerably drier, and much harder to get in to.

Deleted Scene (6:50)

    Presented at 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this solitary deleted scene features the Dean of Columbia University, Dean Fulton, chastising Alex Hartdegen over his teaching practices.

Documentaries

    Don't let the name fool you - the items featured under this title are barely long enough to be called featurettes, let alone documentaries. The included items are:     All are presented at 1.85:1, but are not 16x9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. They are quite promotional in nature, but do provide some interesting information, and the Visual Effects featurette shows just how much can now be done with a computer.

Production Design Gallery (21)

    This contains sketches and blueprints for the sets used in the film.

"Hunt" sequence animatic

    This provides the storyboards for the hunt sequences shown in quick succession so that they create a kind of crude cartoon, and it is set to music with dialogue and sound effects. It is actually quite effective, and excluding some changes to the actual story, quite closely reflects the events in the film itself.

Trailers

    This section contains three trailers as follows:     The first trailer is presented at 1.78:1, the others at 2.35:1. All are 16x9 enhanced and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio.

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 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     I was unable to ascertain if the above is a full or half bitrate DTS audio track. If it is half bitrate (as most DTS tracks are these days), then from past experiance it will be no better than the Dolby Digital, however a full bitrate DTS will most likely provide a slight improvent to the Dolby Digital track. Either way, given the quality of the Dolby Digital track present on this release, there is no reason (excluding the language barrier) to prefer one version over another, making this a draw.

Summary

    The Time Machine is a mediocre action film that is somehow less than the sum of its parts. The look is gorgeous, the cast are good, the music is excellent, and the surround effects are superb, but as a film it just does not work.

    The video quality is excellent. There are a few instances of severe aliasing, but aside from those there are no issues.

    The audio quality is even better than the video. The only down-side is the slightly frontal nature of the soundtrack during the first 20-odd minutes - aside from that this is very much a home theatre audio demonstration disc.

    The extras are extensive and quite interesting, they just seem to lack any real depth.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Monday, September 23, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K
AllZone4DVD - Dale M

Comments (Add)
R1 had DTS as well? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
R1 DTS - Spanky
Who Created The Morlocks? - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!) REPLY POSTED
We don't need users like Jesus! - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Ignore JC... - Anonymous
JC keeps the bustards honest - Latcho
Latcho, you're missing the point. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Keep the b******s honest? What are you talking about? - Anonymous
No Rodda, you're missing the point - Latcho
Freedom of speech - Steve Horan (hi ho, hi ho, I have a crap bio)
Freedom Of Speech, Pusillanimous Readers, Intolerant Attitudes - Latcho
Hey Latcho! Guess what, you're still missing the point. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Yes Latcho, you are missing the point... - Anonymous
In addition, Latcho... - Anonymous
Sorry Rod, Latcho is right! - Gary Pemberton