The Time Machine

The Time Machine (2001)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Cast: Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Orlando Jones
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Deleted Scene, Storyboards, Concept Art, Trailer and more

Dreamworks Home Entertainment has recently released the remake of H.G. Wells’ classic science fiction novel ’The Time Machine.’ It immediately begs the question why this film has been made in the first place, as George Pal’s 1960 adaptation was essentially a flawless and highly effective version of the material. Yet, Simon Wells, the grandson of the book’s author, decided he’d like to revisit the material for his own interpretation. He shouldn’t have. He really shouldn’t have, because the result is a poorly conceived attempt that is flawed inside out. Illogical to the extreme, poorly directed and filled with special effects that make any 50s B-movie look sophisticated by comparison, ’The Time Machine’ is an incoherent time waster without any highlights.

Dreamworks Home Entertainment is presenting the movie in an anamorphic widescreen presentation on this DVD. The image is meticulously clean and free of grain. The picture is sharp and offers a lot of detail. Color reproduction is very good with good hues and natural gradients. Black levels are solid with nicely defined shadows. The compression shows some signs of slight but evident pixelation in a number of scenes and shots that involve a lot of movement quickly turn into blurry, losing definition as a result of the compression constraints.

The disc contains very aggressive surround mixes in the form of an English DTS and a na English and French 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track, as well as Dolby Surround tracks in English and Spanish. Very dynamic the tracks are engaging and make very good use of the surround channels. The frequency response is as expected very wide, with a very deep bass extension and clear high ends that are free of distortion. The audio seems to suffer a bit from a lack of fine definition at times as instrumental textures wash together and do not have the spatial transparence they should have. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable, while the music is nicely integrated. However, I found the music to be poorly spotted and in many instances the themes and cues just didn’t go too well with what was happening on the screen, giving the score a somewhat pasted-on quality that never really integrated with the film.

The DVD also contains a number of extras, such as two separate commentary tracks featuring the director and other cast members. The tracks are informative, but don’t relay anything of significance, especially since the filmmakers are obviously still very tainted from making the movie.

A storyboard sequence of ’The Hunt’ can also be found on the disc as well as a few brief featurettes on subjects, such as creating the time machine, the Morlocks, the visual effects, the stunts etc. They are all heavily padded with footage from the film and the actual ’meat’ is only a fraction of their 5-minute running lengths. You will also find a deleted scene on the DVD as well as biographies, production notes, trailers and concept art.

Overall the quality of this DVD is mediocre at best. Once again we have a sample of what happens when too much material is squeezed onto a single disc. The image quality suffers, the audio quality suffers and the supplements become more of a curse than a bonus.

The movie is a disappointment and falls short in almost every department imaginable. Save your money, and save your time. Instead get a copy of George Pal’s beautiful adaptation of the same material. It is the better movie, the better adaptation and is following H.G. Well’s original vision much closer. Much more importantly, it makes sense, something this remake of the movie can’t claim.