After suffering from a personal tragedy, genius inventor Alexander Hartdegen creates a machine that allows him to travel through time. When he discovers that he can’t change the past, he travels forwards in time and inadvertently finds himself hundreds of thousands of years in the future. Befriending a tribe of primitive people, Alexander discovers that the place he calls home may not be the place he expects it to be.

The Time Machine (2002) – Director: Simon Wells

Is The Time Machine (2002) appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 96 mins

Starring: Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons

Genre: Science Fiction

REVIEW

Loosely based on the classic novel of the same name by H.G. Wells, ‘The Time Machine’ follows Alexander Hartdegen as his scientific curiosity takes him backwards and forwards in time to a world where the moon has been destroyed and civilisation has devolved to a primitive state. His explorative nature and naivety of what the future may hold adds to his appeal as does his chivalrous, gentle nature.

The original story of ‘The Time Machine’ is an interesting social commentary of Victorian life and sadly, this is mostly lost on this adaptation which instead focuses on poor special effects. While the future of humanity is explored to some degree, its predictability and lack of insight makes for a rather dull film experience and there is little to differentiate it from other such movies. Once Hartdegen gets to the far future, the movie becomes more ‘Dances With Wolves’ than ‘biting social satire’, and is the poorer for it. Indeed, the rather contrived love story (with leap of logic character decisions), whilst successful in making us engage with Hartdegen, is a tired motivation for him explore time once he decides flat-out saving his fiancée is doomed.

Although ‘The Time Machine’ is watchable, it is very much a disposable and forgettable movie which could be a favourite for kids due to the big stand-out scenes, but is unlikely to have enough substance to keep the adults engaged throughout.

IS ‘THE TIME MACHINE (2002)’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

A couple are robbed at gunpoint, after a struggle the gun accidentally goes off and hurts one of the couple. They fall to the floor and gasp while their loved one tries to comfort and help them but they die, leading to the other character crying out in anguish. The camera pans away and a growing blood stain can be seen in the snow.

A woman living in a tribal society wears a very revealing top. The outline of her breasts are clearly visible and there are slight glimpses of her nipples underneath. Her outfit is not meant to be sexually appealing to those in her tribe as it is typical of what the others wear.

A group of large, aggressive monsters attack villagers, dragging them away underground. They mark the ones that they want to take with blow-darts that leave a black substance on the skin. They do not choose a particular group of people and mark men and women, seemingly indiscriminately. The grotesque, scary features of these creatures are often shown in close-up and, at one point, one bares its teeth which are covered in blood.

A character discovers a room underground which has been used for killing people in horrific ways. He sees blood covered hooks and sharp blades with a table where many people have obviously died horribly. This character then falls into a large watery pit which is full of all the blood and bones of the dead, he screams in terror and is covered in blood. This scene is quite unexpected as the movie has so far been tame in comparison. A short while later, another character explains that the people who are captured are used for food or breeding.

A character who has long white hair and unnaturally bright blue eyes grabs Alex by the throat, he strokes his long, talon-like finger nails over his face while Alex is unable to stop him. A short while later, this man and Alex engage in a vicious fight where they both attempt to kill each other; this includes them choking each other and being aggressively thrown against objects in a confined space.

A character holds onto the time machine as it travels through time and graphically ages, dies, their skin peels off and becomes a skeleton which turns to dust. Their hands and arms remain inside and do not age, eventually detaching from the character’s body. This is graphic and could be disturbing for young kids. The place where the arms have been cut off is briefly shown on-screen but this is not too gory.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘The Time Machine’ is a movie which is full of sci-fi action that is going to be a lot of fun for kids but may not be one for the adults. We feel that this movie is suitable for children aged 7 and over but recommend adult supervision on the first viewing for some unexpectedly scary scenes.

  • Violence: 3/5 (a woman is run over by a horse and carriage, this is seen in the background as she disappears under the horses. A scream is heard but nothing graphic is shown)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (A character talks about how he had a friend who kept him company for many years. When this man died, he was left alone for a long time; the dead man’s skeleton lies in a corner and the other character touches it with clear sadness. This moment isn’t too upsetting but is rather poignant)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (the appearance of the Morlocks is shown in many close-ups and with other characters running in fear. The withering by time of a character as time passes is graphic.)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (A man falls unconscious and wakes up in a bed, naked. He has been undressed by a stranger although nothing sexual is implied)
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 0/5  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of Victorian ideals, scientific discovery, what the future may hold for humanity, the positive effects of education, the dangers of technological advancement and discovering where you belong.

Words by Laura Record

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