Then again, the original Time Machine wasn't really anything special - a bunch of bad makeup effects and a weak plot. This time out the makeup's better but the story's a total loss.
The opening shows promise, with scientist Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) in 1899 New York City, looking to get hitched with his lady. Alas, on the eve of their engagement, she is killed in a mugging, leaving Alexander alone with his quest to build a machine to go back in time and right the wrong. And equally alas, this doesn't really work out, sending a depressed Alexander into the future, where he witnesses the destruction of civilization when the moon crashes into the earth (in the original, it was a more traditional nuclear Armageddon), and eventually takes a breather 800,000 years hence.
The future looks idyllic, but really it turns out to suck worse than having a dead fiancée. The problem? What's left of humanity has evolved into two separate races - the Morlocks, fierce albino creatures that live underground, and the Eloy, a docile group on the surface that essentially are raised as a food source for the former. And for some reason, Alexander takes it upon himself to stop all the carnage.
Little of this makes for edge-of-your-seat viewing, though the effects are impressive, particularly when our hero is traveling through time - or time-lapse, at least. Much of the film got unintentional guffaws from my audience - which turn into creepy snickering when they realize it's not a comedy (Orlando Jones' appearance notwithstanding). And speaking of appearances, Jeremy Irons looks like he spent all of a day on the set for his work here as the leader of the Morlocks - and four hours of that was probably spent getting his makeup on. He looks as bored as I was, waiting for the credits to roll.
Will audiences be taken by this century-spanning tale of adventure? I know I wasn't. The good news is that this journey might span 800,000 years, but it will only suck 90 minutes out of your life.
Literally an armchair adventurer.
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Producer: Walter F. Parkes, David Valdes
Screenwriter: John Logan