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The Time Machine 2002

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

Movie 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 Taylor.   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.

Cast of characters

  • Guy Pearce (Death Defying Acts) as Dr. Alexander Hartdegen. He’s an associate professor of applied mechanics and engineering at Columbia University. And, the time traveller. In the novel, the time traveler’s name isn’t given.
  • Samantha Mumba as Mara. She’s a young Eloi woman, living in the distant future. She befriends Alexander and eventually becomes his love interest.
  • Orlando Jones as Vox 114. An interesting character, he’s actually a holographic artificial intelligence librarian at the New York Public Library in the future. He befriends Alexander, gives him an overview of what happened in the past to make this future. He has a very sweet moment at the end of the movie.
  • Mark Addy (Viva Rock Vegas) as David Philby, Alexander’s good friend and conservative colleague.
  • Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as The Über-Morlock, the leader of the Morlocks. He’s a member of the telepathic-ruling caste of the Morlock world. A person who gives Alexander an honest assessment — from his perspective.
  • Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) as Emma, Alexander’s fiancée. Her death is the impetus for him to create the the time machine. He hopes to travel back in time and prevent her death.
  • Phyllida Law (Much Ado About Nothing 1993) as Mrs. Watchit, Alexander’s housekeeper in New York.
  • Alan Young (The Time Machine, Mr. Ed) … Flower Store Worker. A cameo by Alan Young, from the original version of The Time Machine.

Editorial review of The Time Machine (2002), courtesy of

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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