TIME AFTER TIME
Talk about being caught in a time warp! Although TIME AFTER TIME ($20) is film about H. G. Wells using his time machine to chase Jack the Ripper from Victorian London to modern day San Francisco, the age of this movie will have audiences feeling some of the same culture shock that hits the protagonist. TIME AFTER TIME is very much a late seventies movie, as the clothing, popular music and the sexual attitudes of the characters in the modern day section will attest. I’ve seen TIME AFTER TIME at least ten times over the years, but there are moments in the film that still caught me off guard, and it had me reminding myself that things were certainly different during the freewheeling seventies.
As for the movie itself, TIME AFTER TIME remains a delightfully entertaining science fiction movie with plenty of character. Malcolm McDowell is ideally suited to portraying author and inventor H. G. Wells, who announces to his friends that he has built a time machine and will be departing 19th Century London to go in search of the utopian society that he believes will exist in the future. However, shortly after Wells makes his announcement, several Scotland Yard detectives arrive at his home and announce they are performing a house-to-house search- looking for Jack the Ripper, who has struck again on a nearby street.
While conduction their search, the police discover a doctor’s bag belonging to John Lesley Stevenson (David Warner), who happens to be one of Wells’ dinner guests. Inside the bag is the evidence of the Ripper’s most recent crime, but somehow Stevenson evades the police and disappears from Wells’ home. Wells quickly determines that Stevenson has escaped using his time machine, and decides that it is up to him to save the future utopia from a madman. Upon his arrival in 1979, Wells discovers the world to be anything but the future utopia that he envisioned. However, with a bit of deductive reasoning and a bit of help from an attractive bank officer named Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen), Wells find himself one step closer to catching Jack The Ripper and saving the future. The cast of TIME AFTER TIME also includes Charles Cioffi, Patti D'Arbanville and Corey Feldman in one of his earliest screen appearances.
Warner Home Video has made TIME AFTER TIME available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a really a great looking transfer of the twenty plus year old film. I will admit that some shots are a hair soft and some appear a tad dated, but for the most part, the image is very sharp and provides a high level of detail. Colors usually appear natural; some hues are vibrant, while other at a tad subdued, but the overall effect is true to life. There is some fog at one point in the movie that makes a couple of the more intense hues seem a bit fuzzy, but otherwise the colors are rock solid. Blacks are pretty pure, whites are clean and the contrast is smooth. Shadow detail is very good, for a late seventies film. The film element used for the transfer displays modest blemishes and occasional grain, but neither draws attention to itself. There are no noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts on the dual layer DVD.
TIME AFTER TIME is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack, which decodes to standard surround. As I recall, the wide screen Laserdisc version of TIME AFTER TIME featured a Dolby Surround soundtrack that sounded as though it were recorded at the bottom of a well. This soundtrack is clean, crisp and not at all muffled. Fidelity is pretty good, not at 21st century levels, but certainly fine for its era. There are some nice directional effects across the forward soundstage, and the occasional effective use of the surround channels. At other times, the surround channels provide ambience and musical fill. Speaking of the music, TIME AFTER TIME features an excellent score by Miklós Rózsa, which makes it worth turning up the amplification a bit more than usual. The music itself sounds nice in stereo surround, although not quite as good as my soundtrack CD. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well as a couple of extras. Writer/director Nicholas Meyer and star Malcolm McDowell are featured on an entertaining running audio commentary track. This is a fairly detailed look at the film, filled with production background and personal anecdotes from the two participants. Also included on the DVD is It’s About Time, a brief text essay that looks at some of the films that employed time travel as a plot device. A cast & crew listing, as well as theatrical trailers for TIME AFTER TIME, THE TIME MACHINE (1960) and THE TIME MACHINE (2002) close out the extra features.
As sci-fi movies go, TIME AFTER TIME is an absolute delight. The movie provides thrills; fun and a great sense of wonder, in addition to offering a time capsule look back at the late 1970s. Warner Home Video has done a terrific job with the presentation on DVD, as well as including a great audio commentary. If you are a fan of TIME AFTER TIME, you will definitely want to own this DVD.
reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.