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Clockstoppers (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: TV spots; The Smash Mouth music video; Making of Clockstoppers (10 mins); Theatrical trailer.

HYPERTIME is a state of being that gives the average human the extraordinary ability to freeze time and wander the world undetected, wielding virtually unthinkable power. In the case of teenager, Zak Gibbs (played by Jesse Bradford in new movie Clockstoppers), it is the opportunity to woo and win the beautiful Francesca (Paula Garces) - and who can blame him when the villains are so dull!

Billed as a science fiction adventure from Star Trek veteran, Jonathan Frakes (who plays Commander William Riker in the Next Generation series), Clockstoppers is an amiable, if instantly forgettable kids movie which works best when allowing the teens to play with the gadgets on show, but feels tired and cliched once those toys have been taken away.

But its biggest flaw is the way in which it insists on playing to formula, offering nothing new but the bog-standard array of teenage cliches, tired chases and one-dimensional villains.

Bradford, for instance, plays the sort of frustrated teen we have seen in countless movies - at odds with his eccentric father, desperate to pull the hottest girl in school and craving a brand new car.

So when he discovers one of his father’s new inventions (an odd wristwatch) lying around the basement and slips it on, he is suddenly able to enter hypertime and quickly learns how to manipulate the device to gain the best advantage - making his friends appear cool, getting revenge on the people who make his life a misery and, of course, appealing to Francesca, the much-sought after Venezuelan sex-bomb who has recently started school.

Only trouble is, the people who own the watch want it back and will stop at nothing to get it - kidnapping Zak’s father in a bid to develop it for their own, evil ends.

The villains in question are led by Michael Biehn (of Aliens and Terminator fame), but he is afforded so little screen-time that he makes very little impression and seems content to play it to maximum pantomime effect, exuding very little menace or fear.

Bradford, meanwhile, can pull a neat trick on a bicycle but relies too heavily on his good looks, while the alluring Garces suggests at greater things but is reduced by the director to playing second fiddle, or finding new ways of showing off her figure in a series of teasing outfits.

And yes, this may be a kids film designed to keep the little ones happy (and probably will), but given that it is described as one for the whole family to enjoy, the failure to genuinely appeal to the mature viewer renders it something of a missed opportunity (Toy Story and Shrek do it far better).

Clockstoppers is by no means a terrible film - it is light, enjoyable in places, boasts some neat special effects and an attractive young cast - but its workmanlike approach offers nothing new to the genre and you can’t help but feel that you’ve been here too many times before.

 

 

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