Time travel today, other reviews tomorrow (#SFWApro)

Got up late, went for a five-mile walk, went shopping, then had gardening to do with TYG, so not as much down time as I expected.
As DARK MIRROR (2007) supposedly involved a mirror opening to an alternate reality, I thought it was possibly qualified for the book but no: The other reality is an occult prison from which a protagonist accidentally releases a vengeful spirit, leading to what else, death and more death? Not good, and not going in the book. “I’ll look at this imaginary door tomorrow.”
THE CHRISTMAS CLAUSE (2008) stars Lea Thompson as a harried attorney/mom whose Christmas wish unintentionally turns her into an unmarried legal shark, thereby erasing her marriage and kids from reality. This follows the standard pattern for parallel-life movies of making her appreciate how good her real world is, though blaming everything on her (too controlling, not a caring enough mom) seems both unfair and sexist. The humor here is pretty flat—Thompson learns what’s happened almost immediately but they still walk her through the usual cliches of wondering why friends and lovers don’t remember the same things she does. “So you’re dead and you need to help me get into heaven—could this be any more cliché?”
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012) is a comedy from the creators of Little Miss Sunshine in which an intern reporter investigates a man who claims he wants a partner for a time-travel trip and begins falling in love despite the fact he’s obviously crazy, right? The fact he turns out to be on the level doesn’t really work because he still comes off more as someone lying about his past mistakes—I suspect having time-travel be real was supposed to be just one more quirky touch, but this actually gets soft and conventional starting halfway through. Not a success, but a near miss “Think about it when the heat’s moving in.”
PRINCE OF PERSIA: The Sands of Time(2010) shows some people just don’t know how to swash a buckler—this kind of sword-and-sandal actioner (noble hero vs. evil usurper with brave princess Gemma Aterton caught in the middle) needs a light-hearted touch but as the protagonist Jake Gyllenhaal is as serious as if it were Ibsen, and even comic relief Alf Molina ain’t that comical. This makes the egregious racebending (the only nonwhite among the leads is Ben Kingsley, and he plays the bad guy) all the more annoying as it’s clearly not a compromise to get great actors in the film. However as the McGuffin is a magic hourglass that will let Kingsley rewrite history, it clearly goes in the book.“No matter your skills as a promoter, you can’t organize an ostrich race with just one ostrich.”
AGAINST TIME (2001) is, like Flight That Disappeared, a view of history-changing from the changee rather than the changer, the protagonist being a teenage science whiz and baseball player whose drunken future self (Robert Loggia) warns him he’s about to make a mistake that will ruin his life. This is too amiable and sweet for me, but I give the creators points for subtlety—it’s clear what the fatal incident is and why, but they don’t spell it out. On the downside, this falls into the grandfather paradox as the ending erases Loggia’s visit from history (so if he never get back, how did his younger self avoid screwing up?). With Craig T. Nelson and John Amos in supporting roles. “What does that do to my future if I go to jail for killing myself?”
IT HAPPENED HERE (1965) is a somber alternate history in which a nurse in 1945 occupied Britain goes to work for the Nazis as it’s the only way to practice her profession but finds keep herself from getting involved politically (“I just want things to be normal.”) is increasingly difficult. The black-and-white, low-key style is extremely effective, and the story makes most of the characters grey rather than black-and-white—only a few people are really ardent Nazis the rest just see themselves struggling to get by. “If we don’t want to be overrun by a horde of damned Bolsheviks, we’ve got to be more organized than they are!”


Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

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