1. Time Barbarians (Justin John Barmettler, 1991)
2. Time Runner (Michael Mazo, 1993)
3. Time Chasers (David Giancola, 1994)
4. Time Under Fire (Scott P. Levy/Tripp Reed, 1997)
5. Saturn 3 (Stanley Donen, 1980) (re-watch)
6. The Time Machine (George Pal, 1960) (re-watch)
7. Dimension 5 (Franklin Adreon, 1966)
8. Cyborg 2087 (Franklin Adreon, 1966)
9. Wonder Woman 1984
(Patty Jenkins, 2020)
I sort of wish I had seen this right away, before there was any hype (or in this case, mostly anti-hype); not that I read or watched any in-depth reviews beforehand, but just knowing that it was getting generally mixed-to-poor notices probably didn't help matters here - I just had this idea that there were a lot of problems to look for, and perhaps had I not known that I would have enjoyed it a little more. But probably just a little, because I don't think I could have avoided some of the groans and unintentional laughter that pricked my viewing at various times. It started out promisingly enough with the nice 80s mall sequence, reminiscent to me of a sequence early in Commando
, but the 80s references didn't go much further than that, so those like me looking for a nostalgia fix are going to come up empty-handed. Mostly it ends up a big fucking mess with two villains - wholly unconnected until the end - vying for screen time and a cast that seems either uninterested or bewildered, effects that range from just OK to pretty bad, and about a half-hour more run-time than I needed. I actually rather liked Kristen Wiig and her Cheetah character, and had the film focused on that and done a better job of integrating the feminist conceits that were just sort of thrown out as gloss, it might have been salvageable. And Pedro Pascal was OK at times playing an impossible character, but at other times he seemed to me to just be laughing at himself and the movie. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine both seemed fairly disengaged, and why was Pine there to begin with? What purpose did his character serve other than to give Diana a "feminine" character arc involving lost love? The more I think about it the less I like it and I feel I could go on for several hundred words but...what's the point.
10. Timeslip / The Atomic Man
(Ken Hughes, 1955)
Another weak film in a weak bunch for both the genre as a whole and time-related stuff specifically this month; I guess I was just cleaning out inventory or something. A low-budget British film - but starring Americans Gene Nelson and Faith Domergue, I guess to get that potential American audience, this is more a crime/noir or early spy film than anything else, the SF element being that a man (Peter Arne) fished out of the river more dead than alive turns out to be a key atomic scientist whose work has made him "slip" through time, living several seconds ahead of the rest of us. Interesting idea which they do absolutely nothing with, focusing mostly on reporters Nelson and Domergue and their search for possible foreign agents using the scientist for some nefarious purposes. Very predictable and ordinary, and the humor from Nelson really sticks out in what seems like it wanted to be a more serious story.
11. Altered States
(Ken Russell, 1980) (re-watch)
I had almost no memory of this, wasn't sure if I'd seen it at all, but the suspenseful chase that ends in the zoo (the best sequence in the film IMO) was familiar and other bits and pieces stood out as well. I had some hopes for this though my feelings about the director have been mixed since I first saw Tommy
in a revival house in Munich in 1982, and alas this isn't going to be the film that gets me on the Russell bandwagon. Far from it. At least half of the running time of this - basically the whole first half and bits of the second - is just drawn-out and endless pseudoscientific exposition - enough to fill multiple NOLAN films - and I didn't find it very involving, dramatic or exciting at all. Perhaps part of this has to do with the fact that the central idea - a scientist (William Hurt) hits on the idea of regressing the human mind back to a primordial state through the use of an isolation tank and various psychotropic drugs - is a very familiar one in written SF, if still fairly novel in films in 1980s. Edmond Hamilton wrote multiple stories on the very same theme in the 1920s-30s, and before him H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs hit on some very similar topics. So while the film has a more modern scientific gloss it felt very ordinary and highly predictable to me - and awfully dull burdened as it is with so much scientific jargon. Or maybe I just think it's a fairly silly idea, I dunno - at any rate I never really cared what was going on, and the psychedelic effects - some of them pretty clearly inspired by 2001
- didn't enliven things for me. It's not totally awful - like I said, that chase sequence was rather well done, and I liked Charles Haid as the more cynical, prosaic scientist at odds with Hurt's dreamer - but it really counts as a disappointment to me, and has to be among my least-favorite films on the TSPDT main list.
12. Future Hunters
(Cirio H. Santiago, 1988)
From disappointment to pleasant surprise. I saw two of Santiago's films last year for the SE Asia challenge - this film, like those, is an English-language USA-Philippines co-production - and thought they were about the worst kind of schlock; and I'd seen TNT Jackson
maybe a decade ago, liked it more but still not that much. So I was prepared for the worst but came away hugely enjoying this bit of nonsense - sure, more in the so-bad-it's-good way, but I'll take anything in the time-travel mode at this point that gives me some fun. The story, such as it is, begins with a man traveling back to our era from a post-apocalyptic earth in order to, of course, save the world from the evil that will befall it. Alas he doesn't make it very far, being killed in the first few minutes, but the magic knife-like staff headpiece he has ends up in the hands of Robert Patrick( in the midst of the b-movie hell that began his career, three years before his T-1000 ran into eternity) and his girlfriend Linda Carol, who proceed to have Indiana Jones-type adventures all over the world (but really just the Philippines) in order to prevent the headpiece from being united with the staff in the wrong hands. Along the way they fight a Bruce Lee knockoff (Bruce Le), dive out of a helicoper before it explodes, meet midget warriors, Mongol warriors and Amazon warriors all on the same island and, oh, neo-Nazis, of course. Patrick's performance is one of the worst I've ever seen from somebody who would be a name actor, and the rest of the cast aren't any better, but this is just awesome over-the-top schlock fun.
(not quite as good as that poster, but really, what could be?)
(Philip J. Roth, 1994)
Yet another post-apocalyptic world that has to be saved by time travel! The twist here - ok, not really a twist, it had already been done many times by this point - is that the scientist Sinclair (Richard Keats) who has to save the world is also the one who created the alternate timeline he's in now, and nobody else believes him. It's a bit confusing - and ultimately silly when you think about it - to start with, as he and his crew send killer robots to destroy any "viruses" in the time stream, and somehow when a mistake is made this ends up creating a world where the killer robots have multiplied almost infinitely and have been spending decades hunting down every human, so our hero and a band of survivors have to find the ruins of the time lab so he can set things right. A dreary film enlivened only by Mitchell Cox's VERY Kurt Russell-esque hothead military guy who constantly fights with hero Sinclair. I have a high tolerance for this particular kind of narrative so I kind of enjoyed this, but I'd never watch it again or recommend it, quite borderline.
14. 2009 loseuteu maemorijeu / 2009: Lost Memories
(Si-Myung Lee, 2002)
After focusing mostly on American/English language stuff for this challenge and getting mostly dreck, I decided to go for this South Korean film, apparently a fairly major production that was something of a hit in it's home country. Glancing at the reviews first this time actually helped I think, as they gave me some understanding of the over-the-top rah-rah patriotism on display in this film about a young Japanese-speaking Korean cop in the 2009 world where Japan rules over East Asia, with Korea being part of the empire for the past 100 years, who gets drawn into a web of terrorists who are plotting to change the course of history to the one we all live in. Alas this ends up mostly as an overlong action film with a ludicrous mix of mysticism and science to explain the time travel, REALLY overt nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiment (understandable, but when the lead Japanese cop shoots a 10-year old boy and a bartender in cold blood a few minutes apart, I think maybe we've gone too far) and a plot that just gets sillier and stupider as it goes along to it's inevitable righting-of-wrongs ending.
15. Dr. Who and the Daleks
(Gordon Flemyng, 1965)
16. Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.
(Gordon Flemyng, 1966)
I thought maybe I'd seen the first of these theatrical Dr. Who features years ago, but nothing rang a bell when I watched it. I can't say I've ever been a giant fan of the show - oh I liked it a lot when I first saw it back in the 70s, when the 4th (Tom Baker) Doctor was showing on PBS here, but I didn't have many choices at the time. Since then I've seen a few episodes of the 1st-3rd Docs, a few from Baker's successor Peter Davison, and couple from the modern re-boot of the show, and while I like it enough that I'd like to see more I don't really see myself making the effort with such a mammoth enterprise. So why not these two movies to whet my whistle for a moment at least?
Alas they are even more juvenile overall than the episodes of the First Doctor that I remember, and that certainly comes down mostly to the writing. Peter Cushing - only in his early 50s at the time - plays the borderline decrepit title character (referred to as Doctor Who here, not "the Doctor"), and in these iterations he's just an elderly, eccentric British inventor who's somehow created the TARDIS, in which he and three companions go and have fairly mild adventures. In the first film, the boyfriend of Barbara, the older of his granddaughters, accidentally sets the machine in motion and they end up on the planet of the Daleks, who run a dying world and plot against their enemies, the human (but weirdly made-up of course) Thals, and the Doctor and companions - especially young Susan who seems to make all the right decisions - have to save the day. The Daleks have to be the very stupidest master-alien-race in the history of science fiction, and while I think there are some episodes of the show that manage to get around the sheer silliness of a race whose plans depend on the non-existence of stairs, these two films don't really manage it; even the 8-12 year olds who were probably the target audience at the time probably laughed at them.
is a bit better even if it is something of a mixture between The War of the Worlds
(the novel, mostly) and every post-apocalyptic story ever. Here the 4-person TARDIS crew (Cushing and Sarah Tovey as younger granddaughter Susan return, the others are new) travels to the eponymous year, where they find that the Daleks have wreaked havoc on the earth and are drilling into the core for some nefarious reasons. It's impossible not to be aware at every moment how stupid the person or persons were who decided this was supposed to take place nearly 200 years in the future - and then have literally ZERO evidence that anything whatsoever has changed in England (apart from the Daleks) since 1966. Clothes, cars, weapons - everything's the same. Did the Daleks arrive in 1970 and destroy everything, so it's all been just decay for 180 years? Seems impossible, but no other explanation makes sense either, except, oh, laziness and low budget. Still SOME effort could have been made, or maybe just make it Daleks' Invasion Earth 1968
Both films are in 2.35 Techniscope and Technicolor, so they do look quite different from the show at the time, and the effects, sets, etc, are of reasonable quality for what they were, but all in all these strike me as having little more than nostalgia value.
(Jack Sholder, 1993)
Finishing the challenge with a time-loop story, a TV movie that came out just a few months after Groundhog Day
to which it bears some similarities, though overall this is clearly set in a sci-fi frame rather than the unexplainable fantasy of the earlier (and better) film. But at the beginning it doesn't seem that different, as our everyman (Jonathan Silverman) is kind of reminiscent of the snarky, cynical asshole played by Bill Murray in GD, and the plot does revolve to a great extent on an unattainable woman - physicist Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater) here, who works in a lab in the building where Silverman's loser character Barry has a lowly flunky job that he's barely hanging onto. Something weird happens right after midnight on the first day of the film - the worst day in both Barry's and Lisa's lives (in very different ways), and when Barry wakes up the next day, it's not. And here's where the major difference between this film and Groundhog Day
comes in - rather than improving himself in a spiritual sense, Barry has to solve a complex series of problems and use his brain in ways that he's just not used to - essentially become the kind of guy who can hold a steady job and think on his feet and, oh, also care about others - but that's not necessarily the obvious point here. This was a TV movie and wisely spends almost all of it's effort on the machinations of the plot, rather than going for fancy effects or expensive production design, and for me it pays off, being a solid little thriller with enough little twists that I didn't see (but made sense) and a resolution that while predictable enough is pretty satisfying.
That's it for me, thanks for hosting KK.