Time-travel on screen: This week’s movies (#SFWApro)

Elim1ELIMINATORS (1986) has mad scientist Roy Dotrice plotting to conquer ancient Rome via a time machine, only to find an implausible band of adversaries including sane scientist Denise Crosby, cyborg “Mandroid,” a seedy charter-boat captain and a martial artist. This worked better when I first saw it because I rarely ran into anything so blatantly comic-bookish (let alone anything halfway decent). Still fun now, though I’m more annoyed by the flaws (like Crosby’s too-cute robot sidekick). “I must go—Rome awaits its new Caesar.”

THE SPIRIT OF 76 (1990) has David Cassidy lead an expedition from the soulless future of 2176 back to 1776 to rediscover the nation’s roots, only to crash his time machine in 1976 instead. This leaves the time-travelers struggling to repair the machine before their window to return expires, meanwhile coping with therapy sessions (“You don’t need to leave. You want to leave. Do you understand the difference?”), disco, bicentennial fireworks, idiot CIA agents, stoner Tommy Chong, truth-seeker Barbara Bain, EST guru Rob Reiner, grouchy biker John Goodman, stud Leif Garrett (“They call me the Bone Master.”) and stripper Julie Brown. Not much substance or humor, though it manages some effective nostalgia; unfortunately the romance between Cassidy and companion Olivia d’Abo is completely perfunctory (in the They’re the Leads, Therefore They Fall in Love sense). “All this corruption of meaning reminds me of something called—Watergate!”

The Australian film THE TIME GUARDIAN (1987) has a time traveling city from the war—torn 41st century fleeing cyborg killers who attack whenever the city lands; unsurprisingly this leads them to the 20th century where a Pretty Geologist gets caught up in the efforts to prepare a landing site. An epic concept but this is a pedestrian action flick in execution.; Carrie Fisher and Dean Stockwell have supporting roles. “You wouldn’t bloody listen—now watch your town burn.”

95ERS: Time Runners (2014) is one of the relatively few films where both sides are trying to shift time in their favor, and trying to undo each other’s time-changing. However the incomprehensible opening is followed by a largely incomprehensible story, with (as noted at the link) too much Intense Shouting instead of acting. The story concerns a woman who can give herself brief do-overs becoming the wife of a scientist on a time-travel project, thereby embroiling them both in whatever time war is going on. I gather from the website this is meant as the first of a series, but it’s not much of a start. There is an interesting Christmas Carol analogy about the film’s protagonist contemplating her past decisions. “It becomes infinitely less likely you’ll defeat me in 11 moves on the twelfth move.”

DURANGO KIDS (1999) is stock kidvid in which the middle-school protagonists discover a time-warp back to 1891 which they hope will enable them to get rich off the lost loot from that era’s big gold robbery. In a good twist, it turns out principal Larry Drake is already trying to do the same … but ultimately this is just a second-rate Goonies knockoff.  “They’re very popular in New York City.”

DIMENSIONS (2014) has an obsessed scientist grieving for his childhood sweetheart decide to use time travel to save her (though the film seems to say all he’s doing is averting her death in another branch of the multiverse), even at the cost of his New Love. I’ll Follow You Down did far better with the same elements of grief and obsession and the climax hinges on implausibility (if someone spoke five seconds sooner we’d have had a happy ending). “Have you thought you might be in that universe?”

I wonder if the surprising thing about THE JETSONS MEET THE FLINTSTONES (1987) isn’t that the two families took this long to meet. Very much in the spirit of Hanna-Barbera’s old cartoon sticoms (whether that’s a good thing I’ll leave to you to decide) as Elroy’s time machine brings the Jetsons to the past, then sends the Flintstones and the Rubbles into the future. And would you believe they even worked in the Exact Double element to resolve Judy’s love-life crisis?  “I’m standing here with the miracle of our age—four genuine stone-age people!”

2 Comments

Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

2 responses to “Time-travel on screen: This week’s movies (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Time travel films with dystopian futures (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Flintstones: Meet the even-more-modern Stone Age family | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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