Time-travel reviews: Tomorrow Men and Arthurian Teens (#SFWApro)

THE TOMORROW MAN (2001) is an interesting film starring Corbin Bernsen as a 1970 unemployed, harsh father sliding into serious abuse. Then a time-traveler shows up and kidnaps his son to the distant future of 2001. And it turns out the time-traveler is the grown-up son, now a hardened criminal, who believes he can heal his past by rescuing his younger self. I’m not entirely convinced by Bernsen’s reform at the end, but overall a good film. However, it’s annoying that the implications a federal time-travel agency out to rewrite history gets glossed over (I don’t think helping the US win the Vietnam War is actually a good thing.)  “Listen Mr. Armchair Einstein, that’s 19th-century hypothetical garbage you’re talking.”

Researching that movie online introduced me to an unrelated THE TOMORROW MAN (1996) which plays like a variation on Gene Roddenberry’s The Questor Tapes—Julian Sands is a time-traveling android out to avert the future destruction of humanity (“Once Earth united it diverted funds from space research to fight poverty and hunger, leaving us vulnerable to the asteroid that wiped out humanity.”), Giancarlo Esposito the human sidekick, a supposed misanthrope (he doesn’t come across as the cold-blooded bastard he’s supposed to be) who helps Sands change history while staying one step ahead of Man in Black Craig Wasson’s task force. This was apparently some sort of TV pilot, though I think it may have gone directly to video. “If I drank, do you think I’d be willing to work in Salt Lake City?”

A Canadian-French production, A YOUNG CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT (1995) is more self-consciously Teen than, say, Keshia Knight Pulliam’s version (the protagonist becomes “Sir Dude” for instance) and with easily the fastest total eclipse in history. Nick Mancuso is a colorless Arthur, Michael York is a very Celtic Merlin (“These tools could only have been made by the power of Gofannon!”), and Theresa Russell plays Morgan leFay. Other than magic being real, this is by-the-numbers, and one where I could easily see it really being All A Dream. “I call upon the powers of Metallica, Aerosmith, U2 and Snoop Doggy Dog!”

A KID IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT (1996) is the predecessor to A Kid in Aladdin’s Palace in which Merlin’s errant attempt to summon knightly aid for Camelot brings instead a California teen, though of course he turns out to be just what the kingdom needs (while of course learning valuable life lessons about personal confidence).  Even with Joss Ackland as Arthur, Ron Moody as Merlin, Kate Winslett as a princess and Daniel Craig as her lover, this is too bland a teen adventure to work. I’m also irked the sequel didn’t do more with this, ignoring the Exact Double Girlfriend of the protagonist’s Camelot sweetie, for instance. “I cannot believe I fell for the oldest trick in the book—then again, since I’m here, perhaps it’s the newest trick in the book.”

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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

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