Posts Tagged ‘Time Travel

06
Oct
13

Primer (2004)

PrimerEvery once in a while, I read some article or hear someone talking about Primer, saying it’s a must-see science fiction flick. Given its availability on Netflix instant, we of course took the bait. Who doesn’t like a good time travel movie, anyway?

So, there are these four guys. They all have full-time professional jobs that require them to wear ties. They also spend an inordinate amount of time in one of their garages building technical things that supposedly will make them money some day. Two of the guys, Abe and Aaron, break off secretly from the other guys to make some other technical thing that they think will make them money.

It isn’t until some time passes that the two guys realize they’ve actually created a time machine. They aren’t smart enough to know what to really do with it, so they decide to put themselves into these time machines and gain knowledge about the stock market they can use when they go back to the time they came from. Or something.

It’s complicated. In fact, The MindHut calls it “The most complicated sci-fi movie ever made.” There’s a lot of talking, and a lot of time travel. As a result, it’s hard to know just when anything in the movie actually takes place. That part could be interesting, or completely irritating, depending on what you’re into, I guess. And, I guess, I was not into it.

When I say there was a lot of talking, I mean there were huge stretches of this film where it’s just these two guys talking to each-other. The camera makes funky angles to make us feel like something is actually happening, when really it’s not. Being that the film was made on the super-cheap, sometimes the sound quality isn’t so great, and one of the more important conversations actually takes place next to a very loud fountain. Who decided that was a good idea?

Perhaps what I found most offensive of this movie was its treatment of female characters. They were pretty much just window dressing. We know at least one of these guys is married; his wife shows up two or three times, maybe says five words. But we aren’t shown in the slightest how her husband’s obsession with his new gadget, and all the time he must be spending away from home and their child is affecting her life. Why even bother having the character in the film at all?

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that time travel movies almost always confuse me. But, that’s okay; sometimes being confused by a film is an awesome feeling, and gives you a puzzle to solve. That is fun! I didn’t walk away from this movie feeling like I’d just enjoyed myself, though. Instead, I wanted to shake some sense into these characters, or at least put tape over their mouths so they’d stop talking for five fucking seconds and think about what it is they’re about to do. I can see why some folks think this is worthwhile; after all, anything low-budget that can convince you it isn’t is impressive, but I’m not bought in to this in the least. I’d rather watch Timecrimes any day.

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24
Jul
13

Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)

Haven’t seen Waxwork? No big deal. The cast is all right – David Warner, Dana Ashbrook, Zach Galligan and some other faces you might recognize. It’s not bad; pretty standard horror flick about a guy whose wax exhibits draw unsuspecting teens into their world FOREVER! But, whatever, none of this matters – you don’t have to see the first to watch the second.

The compass thingie

The compass thingie

Waxwork II: Lost in Time starts right where the original film left off – the female lead, Sarah, is about to stand trial for burning down the waxwork and murdering all her friends. Will a jury believe her story that they’ve been absorbed into wax exhibits, never to return? Well, of course not, not unless they can find some very convincing evidence! Lucky for them, some old dead guy that we probably met in the first movie who I don’t remember gives them a compass of sorts that will send them into different worlds to defeat evil… or…. something. Sarah’s boyfriend Mark (Galligan) is convinced they can use the compass to bring back some piece of evidence from some distant past, they can prove to the jury that Sarah is innocent and she’ll be free.

Oh yeah, Bruce Campbell's in it.

Oh yeah, Bruce Campbell’s in it.

And so begins their travels through time. Each time period isn’t recognizable by some historical event, though – instead they end up in horror movies! Frankenstein, Alien and House on Haunted Hill all represent different time periods where the young folks get stuck, and where poor Zach Galligan has to wear every awful wig imaginable. By the end we’re in some Prince Valiant sort of world where, yes, Galligan is wearing his best banged ‘do.

Worst hair ever Galligan!

Worst hair ever Galligan!

Q is convinced this movie is interesting and worthwhile, but I’m not. It was okay enough, just like the first one (well, okay, maybe it was a little better than the first one) but I didn’t think it was an amazing must-see. No, not by any means! It is totally ridiculous and silly, and I definitely enjoy movies with a good sense of humor about themselves like this one, but would I ever show it to a roomful of people? Probably not. If it was on cable, would I watch it again? Eh, probably.

06
Jul
13

Time After Time (1979)

Jack the Ripper vs. H. G. Wells

Jack the Ripper vs. H. G. Wells

Picture it: London, 1893. Jack the Ripper (David Warner) is on the loose and about to hang out with one of his best friends, the author H. G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) who has just built a time machine. Wells’ intention is to travel into the future, where he believes man has advanced far beyond violence and capitalism and is living in complete harmony. When the cops knock on Wells’ door looking for Mr. Ripper, he bolts into the basement and jumps into the time machine – hoping Wells’

A trip to the future can be a little rough.

A trip to the future can be a little rough.

vision of the future is far from true.

Indeed, violence and greed is still a very integral part of 1979 San Francisco; a virtual playground for a man like Jack the Ripper! Once Wells discovers his “friend” has taken the time machine, he knows he has to go after him and bring him to justice. And so begins a jaunt into the future, where Wells is delightfully befuddled by all things, and somehow magically manages to get into a very pretty young woman’s good graces

Amy & H. G. - a very strange couple!

Amy & H. G. – a very strange couple!

(Mary Steenburgen).

This movie is one of the cutest I’ve ever seen, and not in some horrible, sickening way.  I’m used to seeing Malcolm McDowell play the bad guy; I never would have guessed he’d be such a damn charming good guy! And David Warner, as one might expect, is excellent to watch as Jack the Ripper. It’s thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish and I’d recommend this to just about anyone out there.

06
Mar
13

Millennium (1989)

Kris Kristofferson: Dreamy Steamboat

Kris Kristofferson: Dreamy Steamboat

In the interest of our sanity, this Cull* business will be coming to an end very soon. To be fair, though, a girl is pretty lucky when her housecleaning involves two Kris Kristofferson films. While Knights didn’t survive extermination, our second Kristofferson selection, Millennium, fares much better.

Kristofferson plays Bill Smith, a plane-crash investigator whose career consumes his life. While investigating a particularly troubling crash, he meets the strange and charming Louise Baltimore (Cheryl Ladd). Their first date turns into a sleepover, and the next morning Baltimore tries her

Sherman, your favorite robot, talks Louise down from the ledge.

Sherman, your favorite robot, talks Louise down from the ledge.

damndest to keep Smith from attending a press conference involving the crash, but Smith is too married to his job to miss it – or is he? Immediately after saying goodbye to Baltimore, Smith turns back to the hotel room – perhaps to stay with her all day and skip out on the conference, or maybe just to say goodbye a second time – but we never know, because mere seconds after Smith leaves the room, Baltimore is gone without a trace.

Kids in the Hall's own Scott Thompson

Kids in the Hall’s own Scott Thompson

Confounded by Baltimore’s disappearance as much as the plane crash he’s investigating, Smith stays on in a room full of wreckage, pondering the events of the last few days. While rummaging through the wreckage, he finds a very strange piece of equipment. Examining the curiosity, he stuns himself and cannot move. As he drops to the ground, futuristic women swoop in to steal the strange device, one of them looking a whole hell of a lot like Louise Baltimore.

The Face of the Future

The Face of the Future

What follows is a delightful and charming science fiction story involving robots, time-travel, a few Cronenberg alums and a cameo by Canada’s own Scott Thompson. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because what I liked most about this film is how it  was revealed: slowly and from different points of view. I can’t help but compare this to Trancers, another adorable time-travel flick with a tough-but-lovable male lead. The two might make the perfect double-feature.

*Q and I have decided it’s time for a great cull; an early spring cleaning. We have a large number of movies we have not yet seen. Are these movies any good? This is the question we are out to answer. If it’s no good, out it goes.

17
Dec
12

Trancers (1985)

trancers posterNo, I don’t like Blade Runner. I don’t even like Mad About You, and yet somehow I really enjoyed Trancers. Yeah, Trancers is Blade Runner for kids, and yeah, it stars Helen Hunt, but holy crap it’s so much fun. It also helps that it certainly must have had some sort of influence on everyone’s favorite time-travel show Quantum Leap. But Jack Deth is way cooler than Sam Beckett (just realized his name is Sam Beckett. What’s that even mean!?).

Jack Deth is a badass cop who is on the hunt for super-baddie Martin Whistler, a psychic genius who turns his followers into zombies. Like we’ve seen in some other movies recently (Full Eclipse, Predator 2, both of which also remind me of Point Break) Deth is in a constant struggle with his superiors that eventually results in his resignation. This doesn’t last long, though, because this golden boy has been chosen by a group of leading elders who are all singled out by Whistler. Whistler’s creative way of deleting the elders from the world is time-travel: going back in time

Deth. Jack Deth.

Deth. Jack Deth.

and destroying their ancestors.

So, Deth agrees to take a drug which sends him back into the past, into the body of one of his very own ancestors. He travels with two important accessories: a swatch that will stop time for everyone but him for 10 seconds (which can only be used once), and a gun that had the antidote to the time-travel drug with two doses: one for him, and one for Whistler once he is caught.

Dude, cycle hits window. Window breaks.

Dude, cycle hits window. Window breaks.

Deth’s a lucky guy, and when he rolls on into 1985 Los Angeles, he wakes up next to a “punk” girl named Leena. In this scene we’re treated to some very adorable Quantum Leap moments as Deth orients himself to the new world and all the fun begins.

I like this movie so much, and I probably like it because it is totally ridiculous. Deth is your traditional Noir detective, and so the movie is packed with one-liners. Helen Hunt is actually pretty good, but I don’t think Charles Band knows what punk is, and that’s okay.

02
Oct
12

Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future (1973)

Now that you’ve got Ivan the Terrible in your kitchen, what are you gonna do with him?

Before watching Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future, it hadn’t ever dawned on me that anything coming out of Soviet Russia could be goofy. Holy crap, this movie goofy. I’d first seen this in my Russian class and I’ve been wanting to see it again for the longest time. What better time than right after watching Eisenstein’s stunning classic Ivan the Terrible?

Shurik, a recurring character in Leonid Gaidai‘s films, here plays a bumbling scientist working on perfecting his time machine. When trying to prove to his humorless, bureaucracy-obsessed landlord Ivan Vasilyevich Bunsha that his experiments are worthwhile, Shurik accidentally sets off the machine and sends Bunsha (along with a burglar named Miloslavsky) to sixteenth-century Moscow. The antics don’t stop there, of course, because while 1972 Moscow lost a landlord and a thief, it gained none-other than the infamous Tsar Ivan Grozny!

Naturally, hilarity, misunderstandings, and musical numbers ensue as each Ivan tries to get back to his home century. What doesn’t sound attractive about that? I demand you see it.

22
Aug
12

Timecrimes (2007)

Hector and his wife Clara have just moved into a big house near the woods. I’m not sure if Hector’s into bird-watching or what, but he’s checking out the trees behind the house with binoculars when lo! A woman stripping! Obviously the thing to do is go and check her out, right?

When he finds her, she’s completely naked and passed out. While Hector’s trying to find out if she’s okay, he gets stabbed by a man wearing pink bandages on his face. While running away from the man, Hector ends up in the nearest building, and picks up the closest walkie-talkie. The man on the other end leads him to a silo up on a hill where there is a time machine, and the guy convinces Hector that the only way he can escape the murderous pink-bandaged man is to get inside…

Now, my training in time-travel storytelling is lacking, seeing as how I don’t read a lot of science fiction and I’ve never seen Back to the Future, so I needed a little help understanding this when it was over, I admit it. In fact, Q had to draw me a picture just like the time-machine guy did for Hector in the movie. I think I get it now. Whether or not I actually do, I still liked it.




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