on July 23, 2003
When a sci-fi movie has the ability to enthrall you a good 43 years after its original release, then there's no better word to describe it than "classic." And that's just what The Time Machine is, a film that defies time and remains appealing even to those who weren't around, or old enough, to see it back in 1960.
George Pal turns in an outstanding job in the special effects department, never more so than when Rod Taylor, as the inventor of the time machine, sees the world around him moving at fast-forward, then super-fast-forward, then hyper-fast-forward. Sitting in his machine, he sees World War I, World War II, natural disasters, rebuilding and destruction and rebuiding again and destruction again, whizzing by right before his eyes. This is certainly a feast for the viewer's eyes, as captivating now as it was then.
The scientist's final stop: 802,701A.D. Civilization has gone full circle, returning to a primitive state where the Eloi (humans) are the food of the Morlocks (evolutionary throwbacks much like cavemen). There is no electricty, no vehicles, no paved roads, no buildings. The only link to the distant past is a "library" of rapidly-disintegrating books that no one even knows how to read. Naturally, our scientist-hero is appalled at what he sees, and sets out to put the Eloi back on the path towards civilization.
Overall, this is a great film, well worth the price of the DVD because of the outstanding special effects and the insightful script. I would readily have given it five stars if not for one major turnoff: Rod Taylor's acting is the worst thing this side of William Shatner. I'm sure the producers could have done a better casting job than this, but I guess they decided to capitalize on his pretty face.
on July 7, 2003
The Time Machine is an excellent science fiction movie about time travel that was one of the first to use special effects in great detail. An inventor, played by Rod Taylor, builds a time machine and begins to travel through time. He sees both WWI and WWII as well as 1968 during the Cold War in which he experiences a nuclear attack. The movie really picks up when he travels far into the future to a time when people are ruled by Morlocks, cannibalistic creatures who basically breed humans so they can eat them. Seeing how horrible it is, the inventor tries to free them from the wrath of the Morlocks.
This is a very exciting movie that has some very good commentary on our society as a whole. Throughout the movie, the inventor sees the mindset of people as he travels through time and often how ridiculous things really are. Rod Taylor is excellent as the inventor while Yvette Minieux is gorgeous as Weena, the young woman he befriends while trying to save the Eloi from the Morlocks. The DVD offers a documentary about the film as well as a widescreen presentation which looks very good. Fans of the sci-fi genre will enjoy this classic that has great characters and even better special effects! Don't miss this sci-fi classic!
on April 26, 2003
I have always been a fan of classic horror and sci-fi, but this was a movie I have always slept on. I never watched it, I thought it wasn't my type of movie. I wasn't planning on watching it, I heard how good it was, but it never came across me. One day at the store I picked it up on dvd, I popped it in the player and wow was I amazed. This movie never slows down, it's really entertaining and makes you ponder about the the future and the posibility of time travel. Of course not through that type of device he used but just time traveling general. The scenery is stunning and the effects are pleasing. Nobody has the right to dislike this movie, the story is great, the events that happen during the film are interesting and you won't be stopping it while your watching it. Nearly everyone who put down this movie either had problems with the visual/audio or have a very short attention span and no imagination. The morlocs are one race you won't forget and the same goes for the main character and his stunning lady from the future Weena, I believe that was her name. Watching this and getting back to regular life is hard because it makes life seem so dull and boring, it leaves you curious and wanting more. That's what a film should do to someone, this is a classic and in my eyes one of the best sci-fi films ever made. Great for the whole family, this is a must-have whether you're into science fiction or not. One of the most memorable films I've seen in my life! Fantastic!
on February 15, 2003
George Pal was the man who brought us the science fiction classics "When Worlds Collide" and "The War of the Worlds". George did an equally good job with "The Time Machine".
Herbert Wells wonders about the evolution of society and looks forward into the future at the great things man will accomplish. The drive to see that great future has driven Herbert to create a machine to get there. One aspect I enjoyed about this movie and "Time after Time" is that Herbert in each movie was interested in the progress of society and man. Their action with the time machine was the equivalent of turning to the last chapter of a novel.
In this movie, Herbert finds that society has been destroyed by a nuclear war, which in 1960 seemed like a very real and imminent possibility. Mankind was driven underground by the need to escape the effects of the war, leading ultimately to the evolution of the peaceful Eloi and the predatory Morlocks. The Morlocks principal source of food seems to be the Eloi, while the Eloi eat fruits and vegetables, which inadvertently becomes a commentary on what happens to vegetarians.
George Pal tries hard and generally succeeds in exploiting what happens when a society no longer has a need to drive itself to achieve a goal, whatever that goal may be. The Eloi have everything provided, so they see no need to strive to be any different. Things are the way they have always been, and life if good. If some disappear occasionally, well, we can still go play by the rocks and do whatever. Obviously some of this story is difficult to believe because we know that even "peaceful" animals such as rams and bulls sometimes fight to the [end] over females and territory, and it would seem like there would be some point of contention even in this "perfect" society. However, given that the movie has to present a viewpoint in a relatively small time frame, it succeeds well by the very exaggeration of the characteristics of such a society.
The end of the movie is most satisfying, as Alan Young (playing George Well's best friend Philby), speculates on three books that George took with him to help re-build the civilization of the far future.
While the movie suffers from many of the cliches and the now dated styling of the late 1950s, it creates a very believably little tale with award winning special effects. At the end of the movie you are left with the sense that mankind has the ability to triumph over the odds. I am admittedly partial to these classics, which did so much with so little, requiring much plot creativity. However, when the end credits roll, you walk out satisfied that you were treated to a real movie experience.
While I should give this movie 4 stars for its weak points, it gets 5 stars for standing the tests of time and being better than the 2002 re-make.
on December 24, 2002
I'm one of the few aged souls who first saw this in a theatre when it was first released. But, I've also seen it several times since on VHS. (I'm new to DVD so I can neither praise nor criticize the techno dis- or advantages of that new medium.)
I've read the H. G. Wells novella several times and, like most people, I guess, have occasional fantasies of time travel. Years after I'd first seen the film, I had a minor criticism, that the novella had more "socialist" undertones. The Eloi and the Morlocks had parted special ways due to economic oppression, i.e., the latter being imprisoned in mines and factories so long that they became a troglyditic, brutal, predatory species while the former were weak, meek, ignorant, and the prey of the Morlocks. The film depoliticized that to a degree.
In retrospect, that depoliticization (forgive the long word) may have been necessary for the movie market of the time. The anti-communist fervor still existed then. What's more, to make the story more meaningful to the young viewers, the producers and screen writers may have left out that which seemed more appropriate to Wells' time.
And there WAS politics, appropriate to the time. For instance, the air raid alarm went off and the Eloi went into a trance to march to the dinner tables of the Morlocks. In other words, the original meaning of that alarm had been lost after thousands of centuries of distortion.
The characters were adequate, though I still find it hard to see Rod Taylor as an Englishman. Other leading characters went on to roles such as the lead human character in "Mr. Ed," and Giles French, the genial butler in "Family Affair."
In any event, the special effects were superbly done, the story well executed. I could criticize the simplistic romance of Yvette Mimieux's character, but the rest of the story overshadowed that. And, as others have pointed out, there was a challenge to "realism," what one would expect after 8000 centuries. But the "li cense of the medium," and the points of the story make up for those weaknesses. Neither Wells nor the producers intended historical realism.
And one cannot help but be amused by the futurist speculation, e.g., a nuclear war beginning in 1966. Again, that was a overwhelming fear in the year the film was made and seemed all too possible.
Because I've so loved this film for the last 42 (!) years, I asked my wife for the soundtrack and for the "remake" (if that's what it is) from Amazon.com for Christmas. When I get them, perhaps I'll add a couple more reviews on these pages. For now, I think this film is a classic, and I still recommend the novella.
on December 14, 2002
If you asked me what my two favorite science-fiction movies were, I'd have to say Forbidden Planet and The Time Machine. As anyone who has read the book can tell you, it's not the kind of story that really lends itself to a movie. Why? Well...
The book was about the seperation of the social classes. About the futility of human achievement, and ultimately, about how human kindness is the one thing that survives when all else is lost. In that story, one human being was just a cog in the wheel of time, and had little power to change anything.
But the movie...ah the movie was about something else entirely. Look past the excellent special effects and the (in my book anyway) great acting and flow of plot. What do you have? A story about the suffering of humanity. The striving for knowledge and improvement. And the idea that if people allow themselves to stagnate, to become complacent, and to forget the mistakes of the past, they may allow their world to turn into a nightmare rather than the Utopia they long for. In this movie, one human being CAN make a difference. The time traveler helps the people of the future to rediscover their courage, their compassion, their humanity. As long as one person still clings to the ideals of humanity, there is always hope.
This is a great movie, and the dvd certainly does it justice. It features one of the nicest film transfers I have ever seen. The picture quality is absolutely perfect, and the widescreen is really appreciated. If you are a sci-fi fan, or a movie buff, you NEED to own this movie. It IS different from the book. But it has merits of it's own. And they are not to be overlooked.
on August 11, 2002
In order for a science fiction movie to seem plausible, it needs more than special effects wizardry, evil villains, or even a handsome hero (although all three do not hurt). It needs at its core, a hero who resonates with the audience, one in whom they can identify because he acts believably, if not heroically. In George Pal's THE TIME MACHINE, the time traveller George (Rod Taylor) can put the audience at ease with a smile or gentlemanly act of gallantry and can in a flash revert to the traditional role of derring doer whenever a pretty damsel is in need. The recent (2002) version of this film with Guy Pearce in the title role has too much of special effects and not enough of the hero. George Pal wisely allows his time traveller not to play second banana to the then (1960) special effects that wowed the viewer without distracting him.
George is a scientist who on the last day of the 19th century wishes to prove to his circle of doubting friends that time travel is not only possible but practicable. There is a charming scene in which he lectures to them on the fourth dimension, culminating with a mini-time machine model that takes a cigar to the future. This scene functions as a necessary segue to the larger model that will carry him to his unknown future. Alan Young and Sebastian Cabot have minor but significant roles in that they set the tone that this movie is more about the relationships between people than it is between man and novel technology. George zooms to the far future where he encounters a race of humans (the Eloi) who have degenerated morally into a blandly hedonistic group of blonde but not too adventuresome weaklings who are opposed by equally degenerate atavistic green-skinned Neanderthals who see the Eloi only as food. This division of humanity into opposite sides of the same Jekyll and Hyde persona forces George into an ugly choice: he must decide which race is the better carrier of its ancient lineage. This decision is not as obvious as it may seem on first glance. The Eloi look more human but lack the moral fiber to take a stand even on issues related to their survival. The Morlocks certainly are ugly enough to arouse repulsion, but they nevertheless possess the drive to succeed and the ability to propagate their species. An Eloi female Weena (Yvette Mimieux) helps George to decide in favor of the Eloi. Yet, part of the success for this movie is the subtext that though appearances of humans and even humanoids may vary through evolution, each grouping and subgrouping of species cannot be judged on a broad cloth of value. It is to the individual member that imbues that species with its collective identity. The Eloi, for all their lack of purpose, fighting spirit, and drive to succeed, managed to win out over their more bestial competitors--this time. But the ending leaves the viewer that this victory of surface humanity over surface inhumanity may not be assuring enough to convince George, the Eloi themselves or the viewer that such success will continue no matter how far into the future George may go.
on July 2, 2002
The Time Machine is a Science Fiction classic. George Pal too H.G. Wellsï¿½s classic story and made it a reality. From the costumes to the intricately detailed Time Machine itself, the movie is a stand out in special effects, art direction and make-up.
Rod Taylor was fantastic and played his character with a real sense of amazement. (If you have seen the new version ï¿½ it lacks a real important element ï¿½ characters anyone cares about.) This movie has a charm and romance that Yvette Mimoeux could only portray.
Even George Palï¿½s visions of what the 80ï¿½ and 90ï¿½s would be like are not far off. Who could forget the classic mannequin in the window sequence ï¿½ watching fashion styles change before our eyes. The key to most of the special effects in the film was of course ï¿½ stop motion animation. Whereby, elements and props and sets are shot one frame at a time while slight movements were made between each exposed frame. Thanks to CGI technology these days ï¿½ this has almost become a lost art form. When it is done well, like in this movie ï¿½ it really is effective and shines.
The DVD extras on this one are great. A television retrospective shot in the mid 90ï¿½s with some of the original cast is really well done. The behind the scenes and event he history of what happened to the original Time Machine are on this documentary.
This is a must DVD for Science Fiction fans. A true classic and a very good DVD for anyone's collection.
on April 28, 2002
I've had the Time Machine on VHS forever it seems. Taped it off the TV years ago. But when I saw this DVD, it blew me away! I had NO IDEA! Never have I seen every colour in his jacket, every grain of dirt, every hair on his head with such clarity. The time machine absolutely shines with beauty too. I sat with my jaw hanging open and goose bumps on my arms even as soon as the opening credits when I heard the surround sound kick in. My VHS copy always had a really bad audio track, but on the DVD, you can actually hear the faint electrical buzz of the machine running in the lab before he hits that crystal lever. I saw and heard things I never knew existed in this movie. And it has a fabulous documentary with it, hosted by Rod Taylor, that explains everything we always wondered like what happened to that little model of the machine that he put the cigar in, and the full scale machine itself has a story that you won't believe! All in all, it's a wonderful movie, and everything a DVD should be. Brilliant, vibrant, with gut vibrating audio. (and still better than the remake that was just in theatres) Fantastic!
on April 18, 2002
Skip the godawful remake that's in theaters right now, and get the original instead. This is one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time, and the DVD restoration is great.
The movie itself has much to recommend it. It follows the book very closely, Rod Taylor was an excellent choice for the lead, and the special effects (which won an Oscar in 1960) have aged surprisingly well.
It takes place in 1899, and a great deal of effort was taken to ensure historic authenticity. The time machine itself is a beautiful Victorian contraption that wouldn't look out of place in, say, 12 Monkeys. The Eloi of the 800k century look exactly as I would have pictured them, and the Morlocks are suitably creepy.
Much has been said for the special effects, which use some very effective stop-action photography. They are judiciously used here, and with only a couple of tiny exceptions, do a great job of suspending disbelief.
The DVD transfer is stunning, rivaling that of North by Northwest. The colors (originally done using Metrocolor) are deeply saturated and vivid, only looking slightly washed out in a couple of places. Artifacts from the original print are present here and there (noticeably in the rotting fruit sequence), but for the most part have been well cleaned up. This certainly doesn't look like a 40-year-old movie.
The DVD includes a documentary which is really interesting in parts, but really drags in others (the special effects explanations are *exhaustive*), which isn't a problem since it has its own chapter stops. What's really informative is to watch the original movie footage in the documentary and compare it to the restored footage in the movie itself. Night and day. Oh yeah, and Michael J. Fox and Carl Sagan make appearances!
All in all, a classic movie that's aged well, and a brilliant transfer to match.