More time-travel, of course (#SFWApro)

Luc Besson’s LUCY (2014) will probably qualify for an appendix entry as Scarlet Johansson’s Lucy does travel in time briefly. This is the familiar premise of someone tapping the 90 percent of our brainpower we supposedly leave unused, which in this case turns Johansson into Dr. Manhattan, much to the misfortune of the crime ring seeking to get the wonder drug back (the violent gun battles feel like they’ve wandered in from another movie). This wouldhave worked better if Johansson had followed tradition and turned evil; as is, she admits she’s losing her humanity but that just means she has a blank look most of the film. Morgan Freeman provides Deep Thoughts about the nature of the human mind but doesn’t get much acting to do either. “One plus one has never equaled two.”

JLA ADVENTURES: Trapped in Time (2014) is an odd but entertaining mash-up, pitting the New 52 Justice League against the Super-Friend’s Legion of Doom, then throwing in the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Karate Kid and Dawnstar.The time-travel aspect is that after Luthor’s final battle gets him frozen in ice, he thaws out in the 31st century and uses the Time Trapper to wipe Superman from history. Despite some flaws (the Time Trapper’s apocalypse is just things blowing up rather than a time storm), a fun one. “I was about to say we’re not in Kansas any more—but this is one time that doesn’t work.”

I’ve always enjoyed TIME AFTER TIME (1979) and it holds up well, as Malcolm McDowell’s H.G. Wells hurtles into what he assumes will be the utopian socialist future of 1979 to save the innocent inhabitants from the depredations of Ripper David Warner (a minor flaw is that unlike the real Ripper, he only slits throats, except when the plot calls him to butcher someone beyond recognition). In addition to the usual struggles to comprehend the future (quite entertaining here) he also finds true love with banker Mary Steenburgen (“Free love? I haven’t used that term since eighth grade.”)—on whom I nursed an intense crush for several years afterward. A very slow start, but it soon blossoms into a charmer (TYG liked it too). This was an early example of the trend in recent decades to write authors into their books (H.G. Wells time-traveling again in Smallville, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, etc.) “My mother was a woman of many failings, but one of them was not raising a fool for a son.”

SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) doesn’t hold up anywhere near as well, which I think is because the opening raises a mystery that only gradually makes sense as the movie progresses, so a lot of the punch is gone on rewatching. Christopher Reeve is the contemporary playwright who falls for a photograph of legendary turn-of-the-century actress Jane Seymour, then hypnotizes himself into the past to be with her (the method is so close to Jack Finney’s Time And Again, I wonder if Reeve consulting a “Professor Finney” was an in-joke); one flaw that hits me this time is that like a lot of film romances, Reeve comes across rather stalkery when he pursues Seymour, refusing to take no for an answer. Adapted by Richard Matheson from his novel Bid Time Return (also issued under the movie’s name), which I hope to read soon (among other things, I’m curious if Seymour’s mysterious manager Christopher Plummer is more than he seems). With William Macy, George Wendt and Matheson himself in bit parts. “Are you the one?”

And this week’s Doesn’t Qualify film is THE 4TH DIMENSION (2006) an arty It’s All In His Mind film in which a science prodigy traumatized by his mother’s death grows up into a reclusive clock repairman who makes
long speeches about infinity and time before we find out he’s just a loonie. “Time is measured on no basis other than an imaginary clock.”

5 Comments

Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

5 responses to “More time-travel, of course (#SFWApro)

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