The greatest time-travel movies ever … were not what I watched this week (#SFWApro)

Adapted from Vonnegut’s novel, SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (1972) is a rather dull tale in which the protagonist jumping in time is just a framework for his picaresque adventures (it doesn’t really make a difference to events unlike, say Shuffle) in WW II, in romance, encountering other Vonnegut characters such as the protagonist of Mother Night) and ultimately ending up as an exhibit for fourth-dimensional aliens to gawk it. This last bit comes off as a cringeworthy sex fantasy, as fellow abductee Valerie Perrine responds to their plight by jumping the protagonist’s bones and happily having his babies.  “There is no how, there is no why, the moment simply is.”

TWILIGHT ZONE THE MOVIE (1983) didn’t require a full viewing as the only relevant part is the first segment in which bigot Vic Morrow experiences life as a Jew in the Holocaust, a black man in the Jim Crow south and a Vietnamese fleeing American soldiers in ‘nam. This is just way too heavy handed—Morrow’s a horrible human being, but it’s a bit much to make bigotry literally a death penalty offense, and there’s no sign he learns his views are wrong. Poor, though as my friend Ross once remaked, Serling did more than a few heavy-handed preachments in the original.“Do you want to see something really scary?”

LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1962) is the pretentious art film in which a man tries to convince a woman they had a torrid affair a year ago and that their meeting now is an agreed-on reunion, but she says she remembers nothing … While this shows the past as mutable, it could just as easily be the limits of memory or the arty directing as anything else, so I can cross this off the list. “We are like two coffins, buried side by side in frozen ground.”

WEIRD SCIENCE (1985) has Anthony Michael Hall and his best bud accidentally create a living hologram (Kelly LeBrock) as their genie-like servant, then awkwardly enlist her help to navigate high-school angst and romance issues. One of John Hughes’ weakest films, I’d rewatched this because of a vague memory it culminates with LeBrock unleashing post-apocalypse warriors at a high school party. As it turns out, they’re just punked-out bikers, so I can cross this one off the list. Bill Paxton plays an oafish bully and Robert Downey Jr. is a high school jerk. “Your typical party—chips, dips, chains and whips.”

TWICE UPON A YESTERDAY (1998) is a frustrating do-over in which drunken actor Douglas Henshall loses Lena Headey after admitting to cheating on her, then gets a do-over from Elizabeth McGovern that allows him to lie about the affair, then keep Headey from meeting the man she eventually married. When she winds up leaving him for the same man anyway, I thought it would be a display of inherent strength—no matter what, she’s better off with Guy Two—but instead it’s just the set-up for punishing Headey for throwing Henshall out, as she winds up miserable (even given she gets her own do-over in the last scene) while he finds happiness with Penelope Cruz. As Roger Ebert says, it’s hard to see why Henshall deserves so many breaks, given he’s a jerk. “You’re going to choose some faraway place over me, and I don’t want to be there when it happens.”

NOT ANOTHER SCI-FI MOVIE (2008) falls into the That’s Time I’ll Never Get Back category of crappy films: a bad X-files knockoff about Scully and Mulder clones battling aliens impregnating human women, it’s so unbelievably badly acted the mediocre script isn’t really a problem. Fortunately there’s no time-travel in this one either. “The FBI may finally accept the X, Y and Z files are right there in the back of the cabinet.”


1 Comment

Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

One response to “The greatest time-travel movies ever … were not what I watched this week (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: And the not-so-enjoyable time trips (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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