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The Time Machine 2002

movie review of The Time Machine (2002) starring Guy Pierce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons

The Time Machine (2002) starring Guy Pierce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy IronsMovie review of the 2002 version of H.G. Wells novel, “The Time Machine” written by a fan of the original George Pal version of the story.  Surprisingly, I found that I enjoyed the new version as well.

I’m a long-time fan of the George Pal version of The Time Machine starring Rod Steiger.   Surprisingly, I enjoyed this 2002 version of The Time Machine as well.   Both films take significant liberties with the original novel by H.G. Wells.  For example, Mr. Wells was a socialist, and blamed the degenerate, cannibalistic tendencies of the Morlocks on Capitalism–seriously.

In this version, the Time Traveler is driven by his young wife’s death.  He invents a time machine in an attempt to go back in time and prevent it.   However, he mistakenly travels to the distant future.  He meets the Eloi, a tribe of human beings, who live in the wreckage of human civilization.  But unlike the previous film, the Eloi here are attempting to learn, and rebuild.   The Eloi are preyed upon by the Morlocks, a subterranean sub-species of humanity, that has bred itself into different castes.  Including hunters, technicians, and the mentally advanced leader of the Morlocks, played despicably well by Jeremy Irons.

The 2002 version of The Time Machine is much more action-driven than the original, and the ending differs significantly as well.  I’m resisting the temptation to explain in more detail, since it’s a good ending, and much more hopeful than either the original movie or the book itself.   I found myself enjoying the 2002 version of The Time Machine, and recommend it with only 1 reservation.  The Morlocks here are definitely scary, and I wouldn’t watch it with young children.   I rate The Time Machine 3.5 stars out of 5.

Editorial review of The Time Machine (2002), courtesy of Amazon.com

While the 1960 version of The Time Machine remains a science fiction classic, this adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel benefits from a dazzling CGI facelift. Digital wizardry shows us the awesome splendor of eons passing in an eye blink, while Wells’s heroic time traveler–played with appealing conviction by Memento’s Guy Pearce–is given a stronger motivation for piloting his time machine 800,000 years into the future.

Long after New York City has crumbled and the moon shattered by a nuclear accident, Pearce finds a new home with the peacefully primitive Eloi, after confronting the subterranean Morlocks (courtesy of Stan Winson’s monster shop) and their evil overlord (Jeremy Irons in wicked, pigmentless makeup). Trading Wells’s social commentary for pure adventure, director Simon Wells (the author’s great-grandson) maintains the story’s legacy of wonder, despite a few hokey embellishments. Catering to a younger audience, this Time Machine is fun without being particularly distinguished–a treat for the eyes, if not the brain. —Jeff Shannon


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