It’s About Spooky Time: “The Time Machine” 2002: Under-Appreciated Then And Now

With the Halloween season right around the corner, with the date of this post being Sept. 2, to quote Dan Aykroyd in 1982’s “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” do you want to see something really scary?

(BTW, “Twilight Zone: The Movie” best parts are  Dan Aykroyd’s character at the beginning for a few minutes, at at the end for some 30 seconds. Check it out)

Ok. Let’s go  back in time in a figurative sense, to 2002’s “The Time Machine.”

The movie is a remake and updated version of director George Pal’s 1960 “The Time Machine.” Both movies are of course, based on the classic book by H.G. Wells.

Time Machine 1960

1960 Movie Poster

I’ve never read the book, just seen both movies. The plot lines of the 1960 and 2002 movies differ a little. The primary difference being the back-story of the 2002 version, as to why the Time Traveler invents his time machine.

While it’s safe to say most critics consider the 1960 version a classic and the 2002 version disappointing, we at Spooky Things Online (ok, me, since I am Spooky Things Online), beg to differ on the later.

It’s not that we are impugning the 1960 version it all. It is a classic. It’s well-acted and terrific in many other ways. Some part of course, are very dated.

Now regarding the 2002 version, even the film’s director Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H.G. Wells, told me when I wrote a profile on H.G. that he wasn’t pleased with the film.

So I seem to stand a little bit on an island planting my “Time Machine” 2002 is good flag.  The question you surely must be asking, assuming you’re still reading this, is why do I like the movie so much? And, what did I mean when I posed the question earlier of “do you want to see something really scary?

All right, let’s get to it: my reasons for recommending “The Time Machine” 2002, to you.

*Stirring Theme: The movie’s primary musical theme is heroic, inspiring, exciting, and very good. The music is by Klaus Badelt is perfect. Among the best I’ve ever heard.

*Great Lead Actor. Guy Pearce plays the time traveler, named Alexander Hartigan in the 2002  version. In the 1960 he was named “George” as in “H. George Wells.” We should add, he was played brilliantly by Rod Taylor. But in Wells’ book the character is only referred to as “the time traveler.”

Guy Pearce

Guy Pearce as The Time Traveler

Guy Pearce plays Hartigan for keeps. He gives a tour-DE-force performance (and I’m not even exactly sure what that phrase even means, but it’s gotta be good). Pearce is completely committed and immersed in the role. I don’t know if he’s a method actor or not. What I do know, Pearce isn’t playing a time traveler; he IS the time traveler. Maybe everyone else was making a movie, but Pearce is time traveling (dammit Jim!).

*Special Effects. This movie is almost 20 years old, but Hartigan’s journey through time in his machine, 800,000 years into the future, is nothing short of breathtaking and awe-inspiring,  I’d never seen anything like it, not sure I’ve seen anything like it since. It’s about a minute or two in the movie, but well worth watching to get up to that point.

*Epic Scene. A memorable movie should always have at least one epic dialogue scene. This one takes place as Hartigan has traveled into the future to get an answer about his past. He just didn’t intend to go 800,000 years in the future.

Spoiler alter, although most people of a certain age know this: In Wells’ future,  the human race has split into two species. The gentle Eloi, and the not-so-gentle Morlocks.

Towards the end of the movie, Hartigan comes face-to-face with Jeremy Iron’s character, that of an “Uber-Morlock.” This guy is one of the “brains” of the Morlock operation (not a guy driving a car and picking people up in the future).

Uber Morlock

The scene between the two has many layers and goes many directions. It’s very well written and them very well-acted. And it brilliantly answers Hartigan’s central question, why couldn’t he change his past to save his fiancee’ Emma?

Emma Time Machine

Hartigan’s fiancee’, Emma

And finally, here’s what is so scary about “The Time Machine” 2002:

Hunter Morlocks.  I’ve seen alot of movie monsters in my day and likely so have you, but the Hunter Morlocks are positively terrifying! Bred to be hunters, bred to be predators, and bred to have “advantages.” These guys will haunt you, as is said in the movie, in your nightmares. It’s not only what they look like, but what they can do.

You have been warned. No picture purposely, as no still photograph will do these guys justice. You need to see them in action. (It’s not gory at all, just scary. the gore happens off-camera).

I’m going to predict the future: If you haven’t seen the movie and do watch it, you’ll agree with most if not all that I have written.

And then I won’t have to ask, as a key line in the movie goes, “what if?”

A quick thought about time travel. You are going to time travel in a sense. One hour from now is the future. Tomorrow is the future. The earth is what, 4 billion years old. Yet tomorrow has never happened in the history of the earth.

Now this isn’t our first rodeo suggesting spooky movies to you, or creating posts about Time Travel. Here’s some links for your spooky pleasure:

A Ghost Story: Stream Of Consciousness On The Movie

Spooky films:  The Devil’s Advocate

TV’s Spooky Outlander Show and Time Travel Conundrum

Spooky tales:  Of Mars, Martians and the Well(e)ses

War of the Worlds: Worth Listening To

Remember, Spooky Things Online loves, and I mean, loves, readers to contribute their thoughts in a post. First, we want to hear from you. And second, it’s a piece of content we don’t have to create. Here’s more information on how you can do so, so please share:

A Spooky Call To Action: Share Your Experiences With Us

See you in the future,




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