Time After Time (1979) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Malcolm McDowell is H.G. Wells.  He has invented a time machine and is about to use it to explore the past and future from his home in 1890, London.  But at a dinner party where he is announcing his project one of his friends John Leslie Stevenson steals it to escape from the police who have discovered that he is Jack the Ripper.  Stevenson is played by David Warner that I only know from his turn as Bob Cratchit in the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol.

After the time machine returns empty from the Ripper’s escape Wells follows him back to 1979 San Francisco.  No explanation is given as to how the time machine can also move through space but since this movie isn’t very good, we won’t quibble about unimportant gaps.

In San Francisco Wells meets up with a currency exchange bank clerk named Amy Robbins played abysmally by Mary Steenburgen and naturally they fall in love and we’re trapped into listening to their various thoughts on women’s liberation and casual sex.  It’s pretty awful.  Amy thinks her “career” at the bank is her whole life.  She left her husband because he wanted her to raise a family.  The monster.

Wells finds Stevenson and he tells Wells that 1979 is the greatest place in the world for Jack the Ripper with casual sex and easy access to women and sharp knives.  Then there is this ridiculous chase scene where the two Englishmen are running around on the streets of San Francisco.  It looks ludicrous and they’re not really running very fast.  Then supposedly Stevenson is killed in a minor car accident.  Wells takes this opportunity to see the Redwoods outside of San Francisco and talk to Amy about women’s lib again.

Then we find out that Jack the Ripper must not have been killed because women start turning up butchered.  Wells tells Amy that he’s from 1890.  She tells him he’s nuts and to prove to her that he is telling the truth he uses the time machine to bring her forward a week and she finds a newspaper that shows that Jack the Ripper has killed her the day before.

So, they go back to the week before and try to catch the Ripper and save Amy’s life.  Cars get flat tires; Wells is arrested by the police as the Ripper and it appears that Amy is murdered and hacked to pieces by the Ripper.  The police let Wells go because he couldn’t have killed Amy while he was in custody.  But, big mistake, it was Amy’s friend who was butchered and now Stevenson has her hostage and wants to trade her life for the key to the time machine.

Stevenson tricks Wells and after getting the key takes Amy with him as he heads to the time machine.  Wells takes a car and somehow figures out how to drive at night in a crowded city and follows them to the machine.  There he begs for Amy’s life but Stevenson decides to take her with him but somehow in a way that doesn’t make any sense she escapes him.  As Stevenson enters into the machine and begins setting it for the future Wells removes another key from the outside of the machine and this sends Stevenson to “infinity,” whatever that means.  Hoorah for Wells and Amy.  Now Amy decides that her bank job isn’t as important as marrying Wells back in 1890.  And they live happily ever after.

This movie is so bad that it both sucks and blows.  The special effects are laughably bad and cheap looking.  They remind me of some effects that they used on Gilligan’s Island.  The dialog is awful and the 1970s disco hedonism is embarrassing.  Mary Steenburgen is an awful actress but this part is even below her talents.  The quality of this film is at the level of a made for television movie.  McDowell and Warner are decent actors but they aren’t given anything to work with here.  It’s all too silly and badly done.

Not recommended.

The Edge of Tomorrow – A Short Movie Review

Last night I watched the Tom Cruise movie “Edge of Tomorrow.”  The first thing that strikes me is that it is a sort of mixture of things.

First off, it’s a mil sci-fi movie.  It tells the story of aliens invading and battling humans.  Almost the entire movie takes place within the confines of a single battlefield.  And because it’s a big budget movie with a big star that part is done rather professionally.  The special effects and sets are very good looking.  The action takes place in England and France and Germany so there is the interest of seeing The Louvre and London engulfed in military paraphernalia and smashed by battle.  So, there’s all that.

Next, it’s a time travel story.  The gimmick is that Tom Cruise has been caught up in the gears of the aliens’ ability to alter the future.  Because of a chain of events involving his lucky killing of a high level alien, Cruise is effected in such a way that every time he gets killed in battle, it resets time back to the start of the day of the battle he’s in.  But when he returns to that day he remembers each of these past lives.  It’s sort of like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog’s Day.  So, even though he’s a complete neophyte to combat, he can learn from what happened to him on the previous incarnations.  Comically, after countless iterations he can effortlessly step through the battlefield performing a choreographed dance with death.  Of course, this means to keep advancing his progress on the battlefield he has to keep dying over and over again.

So, in a way, it’s also a metaphor for, or even a parody of someone playing a first-person shooter video game.  You keep playing the game and increasing your knowledge and skills.  You also have to die over and over and over.  And for anyone who has spent a lot of time playing one particular game you understand the psychologically painful experience of building up the necessary muscle memory and rote memorization of the endless sequences of motions and thought processes needed to wend your way to the next level.  That’s the feel this movie provides.

I’ll have to say it’s a mixed experience.  It’s both stimulating to sense the iterative advancement and at the same time irritating.  There’s one particular sequence that occurs almost endlessly during the movie.  It’s when he’s awakened by a sergeant screaming abuse into his face.  It must happen at least two dozen times.  By the end of the movie I’m genuinely hoping Cruise just clocks him in the face, just to shut him up.

So, does the movie work?  Yes, it does.  The initial introduction to Cruise’s character presents him as an unlikeable jerk.  By the end of the movie he has had to grow.  There’s even, believe it or not, the elements of a love story in the tale.  And, Lord help me, I know how ridiculous that seems in the context of a war movie.

Who is this movie for?  If you’re a Tom Cruise fan and you liked him in War of the Worlds and Minority Report you’ll probably like this movie a lot.  If you’re a mil sci-fi fan I think you’ll probably enjoy it.  If you don’t like science fiction or war movies you will hate this.  And if you’re neutral on Tom Cruise, sci-fi and war movies I think it’s 50/50.  It’s a good sci-fi movie and provides solid entertainment.  But it isn’t “Gone with the Wind” so if you’re looking for highly cerebral or morally meaningful move on.

Trump vs The Time Hag – Episode 1 – The Origin Story

Scene 1:  Deepest sublevel of the Pentagon; 3:30 a.m.

Vice President Pence (VPP) – Mr. President, thank you for keeping this a secret and I apologize for the late hour.

President Trump (PT) – Mike, what the hell is going on here?  I was in the middle of a very important tweet.  I superimposed Jim Acosta’s head on a walrus and he was looking really stupid.

VPP – Sorry Mr. President.  I’m sure that was really important but this is critical.

PT – Alright, now that I’m here, what gives?

VPP – In this top-secret military lab our top men have been perfecting a practical method for time travel.

PT – Hey that’s great Mike.  Now I can go back in time and make bets on sports games and get rich like Biff did in Back to the Future Part 2.

VPP – Actually Sir, going back in time and changing it is a very dangerous thing to do.  And it’s one of the reasons I called you here.

PT – I don’t get it.  I haven’t even done anything yet.  Why are you already giving me grief about it?

VPP – Actually it’s Hillary Clinton that’s the problem here.

PT – What does Crooked Hillary have to do with my time machine.

VPP – Your time machine?  Oh, never mind.  Let me explain.  Secretary Clinton found out about the project from Obama back when he was pillaging the United States of America.  After your election victory she has been looking for some way to thwart the election results and she selected the time machine as the last resort.  She plans to go back in time and change history in some way that will allow her to become the president.  In fact, she has already used the machine.

PT – Doesn’t this old hag ever quit?  So how do we stop her?

VPP – Mr. President, if you’ve read Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” or watched “Back to the Future” you know that tampering with the past can be catastrophic.

PT –  Yeah, yeah.  Like when Michael J. Fox starts disappearing from the polaroid photo of his family.  Which if you think about it doesn’t really make any sense.  Boy, that Spielberg really was a slacker.  So, I’m in danger of ceasing to exist.

VPP – Precisely.  We think Hillary will attempt to prevent you from being born by interfering in your parents’ lives.  In fact, we think she’s already succeeded.

PT – Well, then why am I still here?

VPP – Because this lab has an inertial time field associated with it that delays changes to the temporal fabric of the universe within a range of 5 miles and for a period of about two weeks.

PT – Good thing for me.

VPP – Ain’t it the truth.

PT – Okay, get me the DeLaurean or put me in the machine and send me back.  Will I be naked like the Terminator?

VPP – No Mr. President.

PT – Good.  Because despite his terrible work on The Apprentice, Schwarzenegger definitely looks better naked than I do at the moment.  I really have to lay off the pasta.

VPP – Mr. President we don’t have much time.  We’ve got to set up the machine and plan out the mission.  Hillary is wearing a controller that looks like a lady’s Rolex that allows her to move forward and back in time to whatever point in history she wants.  We will provide you with an equivalent controller in a men’s Rolex.

PT – I’d prefer a Trump Chronichron.  It looks like a Rolex but can be purchased at Macy’s for only $450.  It’s quite a deal.

VPP – I’m sorry Mr. President, there’s no time.

PT – That statement seems ironic under these circumstances.

VPP – I am aware.  Now in addition to allowing the wearer to time travel the watch allows us to keep track of the traveler.  For instance, we know that Hillary is currently in 5th Century B.C. Athens.  We will send you there first.  Your mission is to thwart any actions by Hillary and protect the outline of Western Civilization throughout our timeline.  Do you have any questions?

PT – Yes, can I bring guns?

VPP – No Mr. President, that would be extremely damaging to the thread of history.

PT – I figured you’d say that.  You know Mike, you really should learn how to live a little.

VPP – Sure.

PT – Alright, I’m ready.  Let her rip.

VPP – God speed Mr. President.  We’re all rooting for you.  None of us want Hillary for a boss.  She’s a lousy bitch.

Epilogue:

As you know if you’ve read “The Funeral Oration of Trumpicles” Donald was successful in defeating Hillary (or as she was called back then Clintoninus).  Stay tuned for the further adventures of Time-Traveler-Trump as he does battle in the day before yesterday to save tomorrow!