The Time Machine (PG)

Review by Jack Foley

IT’S BEEN over 100 years since HG Wells first published his groundbreaking novel, The Time Machine, yet its subject matter - time travel - continues to provide the source of inspiration to countless Hollywood directors.

Done well, the concept can be very rewarding (witness The Terminator movies), but done badly, the theme of time travel, quite frankly, seems like a waste of time.

Now, however, Hollywood returns to the source material itself for a big-budget re-working of the Wells’ classic, starring the esteemed likes of Guy Pearce and Jeremy Irons as well as, um, Irish pop ‘sensation’ Samantha Mumba.

The resulting movie, while technically proficient and fun in places, is as uneven as its casting suggests; making it a quickly forgettable experience.

Wells’s novel offered a fascinating insight into the wonders and horrors that the future might hold, taking the ‘what if?’ scenario to its ultimate extreme - that of the world’s destruction - while also providing commentary on evolution, futurism, class-consciousness and socialism.

Director Simon Wells’s movie, however, merely scratches the surface of such topics, offering only brief glimpses of what could have been.

Wells, who is the great-grandson of the author, includes some nice nods to the past but his movie attempts to play to the masses and feels empty and vacuous as a result.

Worse still, much of the humour is unintentional, while some of the performances leave a lot to be desired - Mumba, in particular, seems to register a singularly blank expression whatever the dilemma placedbefore her.

Pearce, so charismatic in the likes of Memento and the recent Count of Monte Cristo, makes for a dull hero, while Jeremy Irons isn’t allowed the screen time to present a credible villain - and when he does appear, ends up looking like a cross between Gary Oldman’s Dracula and something from Travolta’s Battlefield Earth. Only Orlando Jones, as Vox (the compendium for all human knowledge) lightens proceedings.

The special effects are as good as we have come to expect, but Wells movie spends most of its time in all the wrong places; so that the destruction of New York by a crumbling moon only gets seconds, while the drab futuristic sequence - inhabited by Elois, Morlocks and Mumbas - seems interminable.

And, as is so often the case with Hollywood productions nowadays, everything plays strictly to formula, drifting into a tiresome retread of countless other movies - ie, you can guess the ending a mile off.

Click here for the official The Time Machine website...