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Director George Pal's THE TIME MACHINE ($25) is a movie that I love and have watched countless times since childhood. In fact, I have been so taken with THE TIME MACHINE that I've owned all the Laserdisc editions of the film and had been looking forward to the DVD release with much anticipation. Now that I have Warner Home Video's superb new DVD edition of THE TIME MACHINE in my hot little hands, all that I can say is WOW!


THE TIME MACHINE is based upon the classic H.G. Wells tale of a man who builds a time machine to travel into the future in search of a utopian society. Rod Taylor stars as an intrepid inventor named George (aka H. G. Wells), who on New Year's Eve 1899 bids farewell to his friends and pilots his device into the future. Going slowly at first, George is bemused by the changes that are occurring in the world. However, when he makes several stops in the twentieth century, George finds that the world is repeatedly in the grips of war, so he decides to move steadily forward. Unfortunately, George's final stop in the twentieth century occurs just moments before nuclear weapons come raining down on what used to be his home. The results of this war force George to travel into the extreme future, to a time where the world has healed itself of the nuclear oblivion. Finally stopping in the year 802,701, George thinks that he may have finally found his Utopia.

In this far off future, George encounters a non-aggressive race of humans known as the Eloi. However, George quickly learns that Utopia doesn't exist amongst the Eloi. As it turns out, the Eloi are really nothing more than ignorant sheep that are being maintained by another race known as Morlocks, whose society is hidden beneath the ground. When the Morlocks take his time machine, George finds himself trapped in the future; with no way of returning home. However, with the help of a beautiful Eloi girl named Weena (Yvette Mimieux), George is able to enter the Morlocks' underground city to retrieve his machine. While underground, George discovers the horrifying truth about the Morlocks and the future of mankind. The cast of THE TIME MACHINE also features Alan Young, Sebastian Cabot, Tom Helmore, Whit Bissell and Doris Lloyd.

As I stated above, Warner Home Video has done an absolutely marvelous job of transcribing THE TIME MACHINE to DVD. THE TIME MACHINE is framed at 1.78:1 and the wide screen presentation features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Like Warner's previous release of NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE TIME MACHINE looks totally amazing. Sure, there are a few errant blemishes on the print, but there is nothing here to indicate that the film is forty years old. There transfer is almost always razor sharp and highly detailed, but there are a few slightly softer shots that crop up. Intricate details in the sets and costumes really stand out thanks to this incredible transfer. The MetroColor elements on THE TIME MACHINE have provided a nice looking pallet to previous video incarnations of the film, but on this DVD the colors are truly exquisite. From start to finish, the colors are all richly saturated and are reproduced without any chromatic distortion or bleeding. Flesh tones are very appealing and don't appear overly made up. Blacks are solid and the image is able to produce a good level of shadow detail for a film that has been entertaining audiences for four decades. Dual layer authoring keeps all traces of digital compression artifacts well hidden.

For this release, THE TIME MACHINE has been given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel remix. The remix makes the most of the original recordings, without ever sounding artificial. Stereo recordings of Russell Garcia's wonderful musical score serve as the base upon which the rest of the mix is laid. The music is spread nicely across the forward soundstage, with the rear channels providing fill. Occasional direction effects are called into play, but never to an overwhelming extent. There are also a few surround effects that appear during key moments of the film. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and fully intelligible throughout. Additionally, there was no perceivable hiss or distortion on the track. Warner has truly produced a fine remix, which shows what can be done with older soundtracks. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Sound effects have been added to the DVD's basic interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some very nice supplements. The Time Machine: The Journey Back is a fifty-minute documentary/featurette that was produced in 1993 and is hosted by the movie's star Rod Taylor. The film also includes appearances by Alan Young and Whit Bissell. Much of the film focuses on the history for the actual "time machine" prop that was built for the movie. It is interesting to follow how the "time machine" changed hands and how its present owner finally restored it to its 1960 luster. This is a very enjoyable film that is certain to appeal to every fan of THE TIME MACHINE. A theatrical trailer and filmographies fill out the DVD's supplements.

THE TIME MACHINE is a classic science fiction film that has been given a marvelous presentation by the folks at Warner Home Video. If you are a fan of the film, or even the genre, this is a DVD that is not to be missed. Very highly recommended.


The Time Machine



DVD reviews are Copyright 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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