The Time Machine (2002) starring Guy Pearce, Mark Addy, Samantha Mumba, Omero Mumba, Phyllida Law, Sienna Guillory, Orlando Jones, Alan Young directed by Simon Wells Movie Review

The Time Machine (2002)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Guy Pearce as Alexander Hartdegen in The Time Machine (2002)

Back to Wells's Future

The 2002 version of "The Time Machine" is a perfect example of the argument over remakes; it doesn't work for the generations who grew up on the 1960 version of H.G. Wells's time travelling adventure but works for a new generation who would see the 1960 version as corny and visually simplistic. And for a new generation I am sure this 2002 version lead buy Guy Pearce works with plenty of elaborate CGI effects and a more frenetic action sequences although as a fan of the 1960 version I found these a distraction from the story. Talking of which I am half impressed and half annoyed by the changes and embellishments made to the story because some of them work, providing reasoning and some cleverness yet at the same time they also seem to distract from the main story at times seemingly to be added for novelty value rather than to add to the story. Basically whilst this 2002 version of "The Time Machine" didn't match the 1960 version there were elements to it that I liked and it ended up not as bad as I expected.

Professor of Applied Mathematics and Physics Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce - Memento) finds his world turned upside down by a tragedy which leads him to devote his time to creating a time machine so that he can change the past. But in order to work out about changing the past Alexander heads into the future seeing the world change in front of his eyes until he ends up 800,000 years into the future where he discovers the world is split into two the Morlocks and the Eloi.

Samantha Mumba as Mara in The Time Machine (2002)

For those who are here having not seen this 2002 adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" but have seen the Rod Taylor version it is best to tell you that it is not a straight adaptation or remake but a movie based upon the story. As such we have a very different opening to this version as we meet Alexander Hartdegen who whilst a scientist is also a Professor of Applied Mathematics and Physics and a man who is in love, in fact he is preparing to pop the questing. This builds to a tragedy and spurns him on to create a time machine so that he can travel back in time and alter the course of history. Now I actually like this because not only does it provide reasoning for Alexander building The Time Machine but also throws up the interesting concept that you can't change the past because are lives are mapped out from the start, or to put it simply when your time is up it is up and you can't escape it.

This intro then leads to a more familiar element as we watch Alexander head in to the future and along the way he watches the world change from his stationary position, the hem line of the dresses in a shop window opposite getting higher and higher. And he stops off at various points, seeing how things have changed from a visit to a library where he is met by a hologram to the start of the end as during one stop New York is in melt down. These elements are both nice updates and embellishments on the 1960 version and are quite clever.

All of which eventually leads to him heading far into the future and waking up in a land where we have the Eloi and the Morlocks. Now this is where this 2002 version of "The Time Machine" disappointed me because the focus changed and it became just another modern family action movie dominated by special effects. It loses the heart of the story for me and without telling you exactly what happens I don't like the changed ending either but then in a strange way it is what you expect from a modern movie made for modern audiences rather than for fans of the 1960 version and so I expect it works for the new generation.

Now Guy Pearce is no Rod Taylor and Pearce plays the central character of Alexander, which in the 1960 version was H, George Wells, differently. Pearce makes him more of an awkward scientist, slightly gaunt with a look of a man who spends his time in the lab rather than the fresh air and with an inquiring mind which is easily distracted as in when he sees a man on an early car. In a way Pearce plays Alexander in the right way even during the latter stages where he has to become a bit of an action hero but whilst not the same character I just wished he was a bit more like Rod Taylor. What also didn't work for me was when it came to the Eloi and Morlocks and not only did Samantha Mumba seem too weak as Mara but I just didn't like the whole Über-Morlock thing with Jeremy Irons. But then Mark Addy as best friend David Philby was good and whilst it was only a small part I like the fact that Alan Young who played David Filby in the 1960 version appears.

What this all boils down to is that I am old school when it comes to "The Time Machine" and prefer the whole aspect of adventure and wonderment of the 1960 version. But this 2002 version was not as bad as I expected and some of the embellishments were actually a nice touch but it didn't work for me.