[MOVIE REVIEW]Back to future, drawing board

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Back to future, drawing board

It seems like pretty much every movie about time machines and time travel has already been made, including a version of H.G. Wells' 1895 classic "The Time Machine."

Well, get ready, because here comes another one, a do-over of that Wells tale, this time with all that pesky social commentary stripped away, replaced with big-budget, small-brained special effects.

Directed by Simon Wells, H.G.'s grandson, this new adaptation begins in turn-of-the-century Manhattan (instead of London, as in the book and original film). Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) is an offbeat scientist, but not so offbeat that he cannot recognize the genius of Albert Einstein's early space-time works.

Though Hartdegen is quite organized and competent in his studies, he is not so when it comes to love. Just when he is about to propose to his girl, a tragedy leads to her death. Out of bitter grief, Hartdegen dedicates himself to inventing a time machine to change what happened.

That does not work out, so he decides to search for answers in the future. From that point on in the story, Hartdegen's innocent love story is lost, replaced by a special-effects laden action film set in the future.

And we're talking way in the future - more than 800,000 years. Manhattan is nothing more than a pile of stones and wild bushes. People have evolved into two species, the innocent, human-like Eloi and the horrible, underworld creatures called Morlocks (creatures which look not so different from those appearing in "Lord of the Rings"). The most spectacular of all is Jeremy Irons, as the eerie chief Morlock.

It's not only the budget on the special effects that is wasted. The stars' performances look awkward and less than enthusiastic.

For Irons, who seems to savor playing the widest variety of roles at this point in his career, it's time to put an end to his excessive creativity. The singer and actress Samantha Mumba, who plays Mara, a member of the Eloi and futuristic love interest for Hartdegen, looks uncomfortable in speaking the indecipherable language of the Eloi.

And Pearce, who shone in "Memento" as a man with no short-term memory, also looks out of place the better part of a million years in the future. He needs to travel into the past to get back to "Memento" and try to undo the silliness of this labored film.

by Chun Su-jin

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