tek's rating: ¾

The Time Machine (2002) (PG-13)
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You know, I can't even remember for sure if I ever actually read the original novel... I feel like I must have, but it would have been so long ago, I just have no recollection of any details. Far more recently (though still at least a few years ago), I'm sure I saw the 1960 movie on TV or something, but I don't really remember anything about it, either. The basic story, however, I know. And certainly I've seen it referenced or parodied in other things, like an episode of Futurama, for example. In any event... I think I liked this movie better than the 1960 version. Chances are I'll remember it better, anyway, though still, it's not something I feel the need to ever watch again. (I should mention, btw, that certain plot points in this version have been changed from both the novel and any earlier adaptations.)

Well, it starts in 1899, in New York. There's an absent-minded professor named Alexander Hartdegen, who always gets hopelessly absorbed in his mathematical computations or any new technology he sees. However, he is in love with a girl named Emma (who had been introduced to him by his friend and fellow professor, David Philby). At the start of the movie, he goes to meet her in the park, and propose to her, but she ends up being killed in a confrontation with a mugger. So, Alexander spends the next four years working on constructing a time machine, which he finally uses to go back in time and prevent Emma from being killed in the park. However, she ends up being killed in an accident that same night. Alexander realizes that no matter how many times he goes back, she'd always end up dying somehow. He can't figure out why (probably because being from before there was much science fiction in the world, he wouldn't have heard of temporal causality loops). So he decides to travel into the future to find an answer to that question.

He stops in 2030, where he meets a photonic (holographic) librarian, of a sort, called Vox 114. But Vox is no help, because he doesn't believe time travel is possible. So Alexander gets back into his time machine, deciding to go a few hundred years further... but a jolt makes him stop only seven years later, where he discovers a disaster of immense proportions has taken place, of which I won't reveal the nature, but it's kind of ridiculous. When he starts up his time machine again, he gets knocked unconscious, and in one of the most interesting scenes of the movie, we get to see the world change drastically and repeatedly, until he finally wakes up and stops the machine, having traveled over 800,000 years into the future.

There, he meets a young woman named Mara, and her little brother, Kalen, who are members of a peaceful tribe called the Eloi. Mara speaks English, because she's a teacher... and the Eloi are all taught this ancient language when they're young, but most of them later forget it. Kalen also speaks it, it turns out. So they're pretty much the only two people he can talk to. And they're friendly, but soon the Eloi are attacked by subterranean monsters or whatever, called Morlocks. Several Eloi, including Mara, get dragged underground, so Alexander sets out to rescue her.

I don't want to say any more about the plot, except that Alexander does eventually get an answer to his question. And... the end is happy enough I guess. Both in the future and in the past. (I did enjoy the very final moment of the movie, which harked back to a conversation Alexander and David had had at the start of the movie.) Otherwise... well, decent visuals for the most part. And of course Mara and Emma were both lovely. Not a bad story, though there was a great deal throughout the movie that I found totally unbelievable (and I'm perfectly willing to accept time travel as believable). But... on the whole, I found it pleasant enough to watch. Just this once.


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