Day 2. 24 pages, 8,506 words.
Fittingly enough, as my first careful unearthings from the early-2000s .txt vault, I offer you this movie review of The Time Machine, which I do not think I have ever posted here. I think it went out to one or another of the Usenet groups I frequented, but I’m not sure. Maybe it went to my old chum Lucas “Mister C” Thorne, to be placed on his website.
I offer it here, in all its unedited and sloppy glory.
Aikakone (The Time Machine)
If anyboy asks you what “The Time Machine” is in Finnish, you can tell them, “I’m not telling you, because you might go and see it, and I can’t possibly risk that.”
Tell them to go and read a kirja. Tell them to take a kylpy. Tell them vittu pois. Just don’t let them go and see this film. Unless, of course, you don’t much care for them, in which case, why are you talking to them in a foreign language in the first place? Look, it wasn’t a terribly bad film. I just got off to a bad start. Let me explain.
H.G.Wells’s “Time Machine” is of course a classic. Especially considering that it was written in the end of the Nineteenth Century. It is a searing and depressing tale of a man who visits the future and sees the destiny of mankind, in which the class distinctions of his own time has led to the divergence of humanity into the beautiful cattle – the Eloi – and the loathsome, cannibalistic night-hunting industrialists – the Morlocks. The Time Traveller in this gorgeously imaginative and visual story is nothing more than an interloper (which is not, as I originally suspected, a species of African herbivore), wishing to prove that time travel is possible. He comes, he gets into trouble, he loses his machine and then gets it back, and leaves the future as fast as he can. There is a clear moral, if you choose to look at it that way – “this is what the future will become, if we do not put a stop to it right now.”
Of course, in this modern remake, the message is somewhat garbled. The Time Traveller, a hopelessly daft yet lovable Professor from New York (of course) in the 1890s, has fallen madly in love with a young lady. She is tragically killed by a mugger while they are walking in the park. Driven sort of batty by this disaster, the Professor spends the next four years building a sort of a giant carriage clock with a seat on it (admittedly, a nice piece of engineering – the little stepladder to climb into it was a neat piece of 19th Century obsolescence), before using the machine to go back in time and rescue his lost love.
It doesn’t work. He saves her from the cutpurse, and she gets run over by a carriage. The Professor goes even battier, and decides that he can’t save her, in a scene hilariously reminiscent of the one in “Groundhog Day” when Bill Murray tries to rescue a homeless man from dying, but just can’t. Anyway, for whatever reason, he decides that the answer to his problem lies in the future. I know, I was confused too. My wife wondered, as I do now, why the Time Traveller didn’t go back in time, pick up his wife-to-be, and bring her forward in time in the machine. Maybe that would have made the film even sillier. Anyway, now the Time Traveller has a motive, you see – in this day and age, it seems, the urge to discover and invent and do things that haven’t been done just isn’t enough – he has to rescue a girl as well.
So he goes forward in time to the year 2030. This doesn’t happen in the book either, but we’re well past that. A funny thing happens in the year 2030 – apart from our Time Traveller walking into the New York City Library and talking to a hologram of Orlando Jones for fifteen minutes, that is. While talking about time travel, the original book by H.G.Wells is mentioned by the humourous hologram, in reference to science fiction. It pays to remember this, later on in the film. Obviously, what we have is a tribute movie at best, not in fact related to the real story. The Time Traveller finds no answers, and so jumps forward in time by a few more years. He is in fact jostled so badly that he has to stop – something happened in the year 2036, but it was silly so I won’t go into it right now. Anyway, there was a holocaust. He went forward some more, and then he was whopped by something and fell unconscious. Then we came to the best scene of the whole film – the fast-forward through time.
Of course, the special effects were great. Winter and summer, a nuclear winter of some sort, massive glaciers, wind erosion happening, forests growing and the landscape changing, all that. It was really very neat. And then he woke up, and turned the machine off, and fell unconscious again…
…only to wake up in the world of the future, where the Eloi live happily in their impractical CGI houses on the sides of sheer cliffs, and the Morlocks run around (in broad daylight) looking like extras from the “Planet of the Apes” movie. That much, at least, follows the storyline of the book. However, you may recall in the book our Time Traveller then loses his machine, and believes the Morlocks are to blame. So he goes exploring and finds a strange old museum (the Palace of Green Porcelain) where he picks up kerosene and matches and an iron bar to use as a weapon. In the film, he is taken to the museum by the obligatory kid-who-must-be-guarded-or-rescued, who displays a very un-Eloi-like concern for the world around him. And did I mention they all speak English, almost a million years after the destruciton of civilisation? They do. And what should the Time Traveller find in this version of the old museum? Smarmy hologram, alive and well. The hologram of course makes no mention of the fact that everything H.G.Wells seemed to predict has come absolutely true, which is a bit of a disappointment, but that’s okay. Let’s move on. The hologram didn’t have much to say anyway.
So finally, we have a showdown with the Morlocks, who of course have an intelligent telepathic leader who controls them all and all the Eloi and of course he is British. The Time Traveller’s girlfriend (the new one, who is an Eloi) is captured and finally we find out, sort of, why the Time Traveller couldn’t change the past. Because his girlfriend’s death was what made him build the Time Machine in the first place. Duh. I can’t believe he had to be told that by Jeremy Irons. This was, I believe, a sort of adaptation of the bleak message of the book – in the book, the future would seem to be inevitable, unless we change things in the past. In the film, the past can’t be changed, because it leads to the future.
But the future can be changed, by killing the telepathic Morlock, jamming your time machine with a pocket watch, running through tunnels and avoiding CGI bad guys, and finally blowing everything up and turning things into skeletons, and living happily ever after in the future. That solves everything.
In short, “Aikakone” is a fun film with little or no connection to the original story, but with great special effects and a message that reads loud and clear: don’t bother making the world a better place today – a New Yorker will make it all better in 800,000 years’ time by doing what New Yorkers always do – blowing shit up.