Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

When Gary Sinise's speech about the Morlocks in "Ransom" contains more genuine feeling than an entire film version of "The Time Machine," there's a problem. This film is the poster child for the money paradox in Hollywood, in which film studios will lavish tens of millions of dollars on sets and special effects, without any worthwhile script to put them to good use. It's like buying yourself a tuxedo and a Rolls Royce for a trip to the corner 7-11.

I loved the special effects, specifically the two long trips through time. And the Eloi cliff-hugging homes, suggested by Steven Spielberg in the eleventh hour of development, are a fascinating touch. But there's nothing really going on here: The book argued that we should not allow the wealthy and the poor to become too far divided, the original movie argued that we should not allow nuclear proliferation, and this one argues what, that we should not build underground apartments on the moon? Thanks screenwriters, I'll try to keep that lesson in mind.

In other words, this is pure entertainment, and weak at that. The film moves along at such a brisk pace (only 96 minutes!) that it has no time for character development, no time for humor, no time for anything except its own scrawny plot. The deleted scene, phony though it is (no such idiotic blowhard would ever be hired to run a prestigious university), would have at least given the hero some personality and the film some desperately-needed levity. The confrontation with the villain is a microcosm for the film: Talented actors, intriguing makeup, accomplished set design, decent fight choreography, amazing visual effects... and there's nothing compelling about it. I don't know what happened; John Logan has written intriguing screenplays, and certainly the source material is solid. Whoever decided to spend eighty million dollars and do nothing of interest with it has produced a colossal waste.

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