Time travel films again (#SFWApro)

Despite the use of found footage, LUNOPOLIS (2009) is a good mockumentary that would have worked for my Screen Enemies of the American Way book as well as the current project. Two investigators looking into rumors of a secret lunar city discover a vast conspiracy by Scientologists (or a reasonable facsimile) to manipulate human history by sending travelers back in time at the end of 2012 (right before the Mayan apocalypse of course). Good, though not without its flaws—I can’t see why the church is responsible for JFK’s death other than that it’s an obligatory responsibility for all fictional conspiracies to shoot JFK.“Nobody knows what’s best for the world—nobody.”

THE WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE: The Movie (2009) was a spinoff Disney Channel film that comes off like a Back to the Future knock-off: Selena Gomez accidentally crises out her parents’ Meet Cute, with the side effect of the kids starting to disappear from reality, setting all of them hunting for a Magic McGuffin that can put everything right. Stock, but more watchable than I’d have expected. “If I’d known there’d be this many kids around I’d never have booked this place.”

THE FLIGHT THAT DISAPPEARED (1961) is an anti-nuclear preachment in which people of the future pull three scientists out of time to judge them for destroying all possible futures with their nuclear research. A preachy one, though it’s interesting to see how different the “let’s kill Hitler before he does anything” scenario feels when someone from the present learns they’re the future Hitler who has to be killed. “I’ve never let anyone say that to me—not even the doctors in the hospital!”

THE FUTURE (2011) is an oh-so-precious story of two thirtysomethings vaguely attempting to make something of their lives and discovering they’re totally ill-equipped to do so. I had this on my list as a possible entry but it turns out the “changing the future” theme of the story purely refers to altering the expected course of their lives so it’s closer to Mr. Nobody (the hero also does have the ability to stop time but it’s just presented as one of several weird details). “I made the sound that says ‘I am cat and I belong to you.”

TIME ENOUGH: Alien Conspiracy (2002) is depressingly familiar as an example of clunky, low-budget film-making (it makes Asylum’s “mockbusters” look like MGM) in everything from the acting to the sound editing (I kept having to adjust the volume as people a few feet away from the mike were inaudible). However it definitely qualifies for the book, the premise of the trilogy being the Greys are shark-evolved future humanoids trying to trigger the nuclear war that will create their future, countered by the shapeshifting Morphs hoping to stave off the apocalypse (this would also qualify for Screen Enemies). This particular episode has the added touch of one Morph using that race’s time-travel tech to do-over his repeated unsuccessful efforts to explain the truth to his girlfriend. Given the idea of UFOs coming from our future has been around at least 20 years, I wonder when it started? “You cannot fight a war by ignoring people on the battlefield!”

TIMECRIMES (2007) is a twisty thriller that would double-bill well with Memento for complexity: A man fleeing a masked killer winds up using a time machine to escape an hour into the past only to realize he’s the same man he was fleeing and that worse chronal paradoxes lie in wait. I’m not sure where this one will end up going in the book, but it’s certainly an entertaining one. “Looks like you bet on the wrong horse.”

BEFORE YOU SAY “I DO” (2009) is a do-over of sorts in which a man who just lost his dream girl due to her traumatic memories of a disastrous first marriage gets flung back 10 years in time, giving him a chance to win her before Husband Number One ruins her life. This is another example of time-travel morality, as the protagonist engages in the kind of lying and manipulating that’s only justified by knowing what he’s saving the girl from (though admittedly rom-coms go a lot softer on duplicitous behavior from the leads than real life would); innocuous overall. “Here’s a prediction—Arnold Schwarzennegger becomes governor of California.”

ALWAYS WILL (2006) has a high-schooler discover that touching his fifth-grade class’s time capsule (which he and his buddies dug up and stole) allows him to flashback and rewrite history, a gift he exploits to get success and the Pretty Girl before sacrificing everything to ensure his mother’s happiness. The time-travel morality here doesn’t quite work—while I can understand Will not repeating his self-serving ways in the final timeline, I can’t see why he also gives up his occasional good deeds (helping out a bullied kid, helping a friend get a date) in order to preserve the original history. I did like, however, that he doesn’t get the girl at the end, though he winds up with a consolation prize classmate. “And to think they actually reward crooks like you.”

LEAVE (2011) is another near miss, the kind of murky something-strange-is-going-on thriller that turns out tis all part of a Surreal Pretentious Hallucinatory Sequence as the protagonist confronts his own fear of death. Decidedly sub-par (though I suppose if you’ve never seen an It’s All In Your Mind movie before, it might seem pretty cool).

(Poster art rights remain with current holder)


Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel, Screen Enemies of the American Way

9 responses to “Time travel films again (#SFWApro)

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