TIME AT THE TOP (1999) adapts a popular 1960s YA novel to very little effect, with Elisha Cuthbert as a present-day teen who discovers her apartment building’s elevator serves as a gateway to the past, where she helps save an impoverished but upper class family from ruin. This is, of course, dreadfully familiar stuff to me, but it also suffers from (so I gather from online research) changes to the original, from the minor (Cuthbert never actually goes to the top of the building in the film) to the major—instead of the source novel’s time travel via magic, this uses a neighborly mad scientist which creates some major dangling plot threads. With Timothy Busfield as the father who wonders where his daughter keeps disappearing to. “I’ve already seen the future and it’s wonderful.”
A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP (2011) is a clunker in which a lonely Londoner still pining for bad boy musician Dougray Scott witnesses an upstairs neighbor’s suicide, then discovers evidence the woman is her future self. This leads her, with the help of building manager David Warner, to start popping into her past (again via her building’s elevator) trying to prevent herself from getting together with Scott (whom it turns out had an affair with her mother and may be her birth father). The biggest problem here is that her obsession with Scott requires he come off as sex catnip and he ain’t anywhere near close. “The elevator has a mind of its own.”
SINGULARITY PRINCIPLE (2014) has a scientist explaining to sinister William B. Davis how his lifelong conviction he can see into parallel worlds led to his working with a brilliant scientist trying to contact such worlds, which led in turn to the protagonist constantly shifting in and out between Earths 1 and 2, which led to unpleasant side effects as mistakenly thinking his Earth 1 wife is cheating on him. Heavy on the talking heads, but adequate until the attempt at a twist ending. “So Jack was the box—and you were Schrodinger’s cat.”
Similarly, THE BLACK HOLE (2015) has a high school girl wondering why the reality around her keeps randomly changing only to discover like The I Inside because she’s trapped in memories, though in this case, someone else’s. While I’m partial to reality bending films, this one’s a flop—the heroine never acts, but spends her whole time acted upon.With Dean Cain and Malcolm McDowell as teachers. “This is like those movies where I’m in a car accident and you’re like my spirit guides!”
THE REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 (1998) has King Ghidorah, now revealed as the cause of the great dinosaur die-off, return for another extinction event, which forces Mothra, unable to defeat him in the present, travel back to fight him in the dinosaur age. This one may go in the appendix as the time travel doesn’t really affect the usual formula for kaijin battles. “The arms couldn’t reach—the mind did.”
TIME LAPSE (2014) is like a Twilight Zone episode extended to feature length: three twentysomethings discover a camera that photographs the future, try to exploit it and come to bad ends. Not for the book (I don’t do precognition) and nothing the world needed.
LENSMAN: Secret of the Lens (1984) was a pseudofeature intended as the American pilot for an import of the Japanese anime series that turns EE Doc Smith into George Lucas—Kim Kinnason is a simple space farm boy drawn into the battle against the Boskonian Empire after a dying Lensman drafts him the way Abin Sur drafted Hal Jordan. A great go-to movie if anyone ever complains to me that Starship Troopers was too faithful to the source novel. “The power of the lens will never be yours.”