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Reviewed July 28th, 2002 by John Randall


“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams.”

Before I start the actual review of the 2002 film, I must say that I am totally biased. I totally love the 1960 film of the same name. In fact, the 1960 version is one of my all time favorite films. Both are based on the novel by H.G. Wells, but are very different. This new film is a complete revisualization of the original novel and directed by H.G. Well’s great-grandson Simon Wells.

This version is about a young man named Alex (Guy Pearce) who tries to go back in time to save the love of his life from being murdered – using a time machine, he has invented. When he goes back and tries to save her – she just dies a different way. For some reason he figures that, he will find the answer to why he cannot change the past – somewhere in the future.

On his way to the future, he stops in 2030 and meets up with a computerized librarian (played by Orlando Jones) to find out some answers to what has happened and to find out more info about time traveling in general. When he does not get his answers, he high tails even further in the future and finds out that a colonization of the moon has lead to an explosion and the destruction of the moon itself – causing the Earth to basically die.

He moves even further into the future – some 800,000 years later to find the Earth finally healing itself. He awakes after being knocked out and meets a new race of people – the “Eloi” and a woman named Mara (Samantha Mumba). Soon we find out that another race of creatures – the “Morlocks” – breed the Eloi just to eat them. It is up to Alex to save the Eloi by defeating the Morlocks and their leader (played by Jeremy Irons).

With all that said, let us see how the 1960 version and this one are different... First, in the 1960 version, the main character’s name is George and not Alexander. The female in the future was called Weena and not Mara. In the original, there is no mention of going into the past to save anyone, and unlike this new version, there was no main bad person in the 1960 version. Besides time travel, the name Filby (a friend of the male time traveler) and the names Eloi and Morlocks – this is basically a completely different film that runs at a very high pace. However, a funny part in the new film is a cameo by Alan Young as a flower store clerk – he played Filby in the original 1960 version.

The video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks very good. There is very little grain present, colors are strong in some scenes, but look off in others, detail is right on, and unfortunately, there is some artifacting going on sometimes.

The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and both are pretty good, but often seemed a bit flat. LFE and surround use was not as good as I hoped. Comparing the main two tracks – there was not much of a difference. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 track are also included.

The disc indeed does have some good extras. First up is two audio commentaries: one by Simon Wells and Wayne Wahrman and the other by the producer, the effects supervisor and the production designer. Neither track was very interesting to be honest.

There are four rather short featurettes called “Stunt Fight Choreography”, “Creating the Morlocks”, “Building the Time Machine”, and “Visual Effects by Digital Domain”. All of these take a different look at certain aspects of the film. And don’t forget the single 8 minute deleted scene.

Lastly, there are some nifty trailers, production notes, photos, filmograhies and more.

Overall, this is a great CGI kind of film and is easily recommended. However, I have to also say that the original 1960 version is so much more enjoyable to watch.


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