THE FOURTH DIMENSION (2012) is a talky, arty anthology film. It might qualify for the appendix due to the second segment, in which a disgruntled man discovers he can see across time, but only catches one scene and one viewpoint (“He has no appreciation of what he’s seeing.”).
No big-screen adaptation of Jay Ward’s creations (Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle, Dudley Doright) has ever captured the loonie humor of the original and MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (2014) is no exception, though it does have a few flashes (“I, George Washington, join with Abrahama Lincoln in issuing Peabody a presidential pardon.”). The plot concerns dog-hating social worker Allison Janney trying to break up the adoption, resulting in Peabody, Sherman and a schoolgirl he totally doesn’t like or have any interest in bounce between encounters with Tut, Leonardo DaVinci (Stanley Tucci) and Agamemnon (Patrick Warburton) while working out the family issues. While I realize the gags and puns of the original wouldn’t sustain a full-length full, making a warm-and-fuzzy family story turns out to be a bad call.“This is no time for puns, even good ones.”
I’LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN (2014) tackles father-son separation a lot better, as Haley Joel Osment discovers dad Rufus Sewell’s disappearance years before was because he used a time machine to visit the past and died in 1946. Osment and grand-dad Victor Garber set out to avert the tragedy, even though Osment’s girlfriend worries what will happen to their relationship in an altered timeline. With Gillian Anderson as Osment’s tormented mother, this would double-bill well with Safety Not Guaranteed as another film where the time-travel is primarily an excuse for character studies. “Einstein didn’t want the bomb used!”
BRIDGE ACROSS TIME (1985)is a time-travel mess in which Jack the Ripper falls to his death on London Bridge, dislodging one stone … and when the last stone is restored a century later (at which point the bridge was in Arizona), guess who materializes … David Hasselhoff plays the cop who brilliantly deduces that a killer whose crimes don’t follow the Ripper’s MO (doesn’t mutilate bodies, doesn’t target whores) is obviously a Jack the Ripper impersonator while a mysterious stranger who somehow knows what’s going on is never explained. A real mess from writer William F. Nolan, with Stepfanie Kramer, Clu Gulager, Lane Smith, Randolph Mantooth, Rose Marie and Adrienne Barbeau among the wasted talent. “Have you ever seriously considered the difference between good—and evil?”
CINDERELLA III: A Twist in Time (2006) has the wicked Stepmother using the Fairy Godmother’s wand to create an alternative timeline in which ugly stepsister Anastasia (Tess MacNeille) fits the glass slipper and gets the prince. Mediocre, but I did like that Anastasia saves the day (realizing she wants True Love and this isn’t it); Stepmother, on the other hand, comes off as a bush-league villain at best. Unusually this leaves the new timeline intact rather than restoring the old, on the grounds Cinderella and the Prince end up happily ever after in the end. “I think I understand .. actually, I got nothing.”
TIME STRANGER (1996) is an anime adventure in which a team of heroes reunites for a deathwatch on their female member and starts remembering Their Greatest Adventure. It turns out this was a mistake I Netflixed for the same-name ’86 anime, which I now know hasn’t been released at all in the US. Adequate and unremarkable. “Vanishing baptisms of blood and letters of fate are common here.”
THE SIGNAL (2014) has three teens locked up by the government after an encounter with an ET and subjected to Mysterious Questioning by mad scientist Laurence Fishburne in a Mysterious Government Facility. This has the same dull pseudo-realism found in found footage films, and the ending twist is one I saw coming (and it doesn’t really explain anything, nor is it dramatically satisfying). I’d thought this might qualify for the book, but not even close. “2+3+4+1+41—we’re in Area 51.”
1408 (2007) is a Stephen King-based film in which occult skeptic writer John Cusack makes the mistake of staying in the Overlook—er, the Dolphin, despite warnings from manager Samuel L. Jackson that the eponymous accursed room is death to all guests. The horror part works well enough, but the opening scenes are plodding and the ending is an OMG, It Was All Real cliche. This does qualify for the appendix, as it has the room on a time-loop (“You can either relieve the past hour, or exercise our speedy checkout service.”). “Even if you leave this room, you’ll never leave this room.”
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