Time travel: the enjoyable stuff (#SFWApro)

RUNNING AGAINST TIME (1990) stars Robert Hays as a man obsessed by his older brother’s death in ‘nam a quarter century earlier; when he discovers Sam Wanamaker (looking very Einstein) has invented a time machine, he volunteers to become a guinea pig, avert Dallas in ’63 and thereby save his brother and America only of course Things Go Wrong … While a number of films emphasize the risks of materializing at the wrong location in the past, this is the only one I can think of where it’s a major plot point. It’s good, even though I’m unconvinced by the JFK Lives No Nam concept (but as Eric Flint put it at Dragoncon, it’s what’s possible, not what’s likely, that alternate histories are built on). “Maybe God just wants us to try harder.”

GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) wasn’t the first time loop film, but it deservedly became the archetype for the genre—well written, well acted and just all-around solid. Bill Murray plays the dour weatherman stuck reliving Groundhog Day over and over, during which time he overeats, commits suicide, performs the Heimlich, learns piano, changes a tire and learns he isn’t God, while Andie McDowell tries to figure out what the heck is going on.   I’ve heard arguments is really tragic because Murray wouldn’t even be human by the time he’d looped that long, but I like the film so phooey on the realists; thumbs up. “That’s exactly what makes me so special—I don’t even have to floss!”

RETURNER (2002) is a Japanese film in which a woman escapes back through time to save Earth from the alien conquest of 2084 by assassinating the alien’s point man in the present before he can summon his people. What she finds, however, is that the alien is actually a helpless child so the real mission is to stop a ganglord from killing him.This is familiar material for me at this point, though the twist about the alien does make this stand out from the pack. Visually it borrows too much from both ET and Alien though. “It’s a free sample from a drugstore.”


Moving to TV, DOCTOR WHO: War Games was the finale of the Second Doctor’s run wherein the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie stumble into World War One, only to discover certain sinister players manipulating things. It soon turns out that the games involve people from multiple different time periods—and that behind it is at least one TIme Lord. A landmark for introducing the Time Lords and giving the Doctor’s origin, though it’s often dismissed as long and dull otherwise. I liked it a lot though, and I remain fond of Zoe as a companion (even here at the end of her run, her brains are still an asset). “You must have been a little tempted by the thought of being the ruler of an entire galaxy.” (all rights to image with current holder)

DAY BREAK was a TV time loop series in which Taye Diggs plays a detective who gets framed for murder, sees his girlfriend kills and learns from shadowy front man Joe Regalbuto that Diggs’ sister is next if he doesn’t confess to the crime he didn’t commit. And then the day reboots … This setup makes it stand out compared to the usual run of time loops, as the stakes are so much higher; also this actually considers that the looping might randomly end, so Diggs feels he’s limited in how recklessly he can act. The ending is also off from the usual, albeit confusing (I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers). Recommended. “They are making terms I can’t accept.”


Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel, TV

3 responses to “Time travel: the enjoyable stuff (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: TV, both time travel and not (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Fun stuff about indexing (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Is There a Doctor In the House? Lots! | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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