It’s About Time week

About Time

 

About TimeĀ (2013)

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.”

In honor of the delightful About Time currently in theaters, this week is dedicated to time travel movies. After today I’ll cover the ones on instant Netflix but I just can’t mention the topic without mentioning…

Time After Time

 

Time After Time (1979)

“H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to the 20th Century when the serial murderer uses the future writer’s time machine to escape his time period.”

Time After Time is my absolute favorite time travel movie. Unfortunately it is only currently available on the Warner Archive streaming network. Malcolm McDowell is perfect as H.G. Wells in a rare non-villain role. David Warner is excellent as his predator/prey Jack the Ripper. Mary Steenburgen is charming as the third member of our very unusual triangle. As with many time travel stories, there is a healthy dollop of romanticism in the mix.

People Watch: Look for Shelley Hack as a docent and Corey Feldman as ‘boy at museum’.

WB Archive Instant – FREE Trial

I’ve mentioned it before but it bears repeating – if you are looking for that rare movie you watched as a child that you can’t find anywhere in stores, there is a good chance you can find it in a print on demand DVD from the studio’s archive. Most of the major studios have these archives available for titles that are desirable but not mainstream enough for a big release. The WB archive is particularly rich. These DVDs are mostly no-frills and because they are not mass-produced, you rarely find a decent sale.

WB Archive InstantWarner Brothers has now finished their beta of their Warner Archive Instant service. You can sign up for a 2-week trial for FREE. After that it is $9.99 a month. Currently you can only watch it on your computer or on the TV via Roku (I’d expect Xbox 360 and PS3 support soon).

They don’t really have enough films for a service (only 30 horror movies, 26 science fiction movies, etc.) but some of the titles are gems that have been sitting in the vault. I plan to use my two-week trial to the utmost watching ‘classics’ not available on the other services such as Captain Nemo and the Underwater City and Razorback and even some films I’ve never seen like The Black Scorpion and Moon Zero Two.

Time After Time

If you watch one film from this trial, watch Time After Time. “H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper through 19th-century London to modern-day San Francisco when the serial murderer uses the future writer’s time machine to escape his time period.” This is probably the best work from both Malcolm McDowell and David Warner.

Science Fiction – Top Ten List

As this is the end of the year, it seems the time for Top 10 lists. I’ll be doing Top 10 lists of films currently available on instant Netflix. I’ve disqualified all the films that show as expiring on or before 1/1/10. Today is my list of Top 10 Science Fiction films – these are in no particular order.

Wall-E

WATCH: Wall-E (2008) – Rated G

Pixar has a can’t miss record so far. Even so this is a particularly haunting film. There is almost no dialogue in the first act and it’s still riveting. The film is absolutely gorgeous in so many ways.

Time After Time

WATCH: Time After Time (1979) – Rated PG

Malcolm McDowell and David Warner give the performances of their careers as H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper respectively. Jack the Ripper steals the Time Machine and travels to the future to escape justice. This is a superb blending of science fiction, action and romance.

Silent Running

WATCH: Silent Running (1971) – Rated G

Silent Running is a precursor to Wall-E’s environmental premise. Bruce Dern always plays people who are off or crazy but here he fits perfectly as an off-kilter botanist trying to protect the last forest. Also like Wall-E, Director Douglas Trumbull imbues three androids with almost human personalities.

Body Snatchers

WATCH: Body Snatchers (1993) – Rated R

While this is the third and third-best of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers adaptations, it is still highly entertaining. It is also the only one available on instant Netflix.

Terminator 2

WATCH: Terminator 2 Judgment Day (1991) – Rated R

This is the film where James Cameron raised the bar for special effects (and budgets). Like Pixar, all of James Cameron’s movies are good and some are classics. This one is a classic with some of the most fantastic action set pieces ever made.

Starship Troopers

WATCH: Starship Troopers (1997) – Rated R for graphic science-fiction violence and gore and for some language and nudity.

This is my guilty pleasure of the list. Starship Troopers is not an especially good film but it has very well designed creatures, lots of ironic humor and ample gore. The battle scenes are grand and frantic. This is a great check-your-brain at the door thrill ride. Whatever you do, don’t expect the complexities of Heinlein’s novel.

Men in Black

WATCH: Men in Black (1997) – Rated PG-13 for language and science fiction violence.

Is Will Smith ever not likable? The key to a good buddy comedy is having opposites that are both fun and have chemistry. Crotchety Tommy Lee Jones + good-natured Will Smith + science fiction = box office gold. Look for an early scene-stealing role from Monk’s Tony Shalhoub.

Planet of the Apes

WATCH: Planet of the Apes (1968) – Rated G.

This is the most classic film on the list. The climactic scene is one of the greatest reveals in cinema history. Sadly it has become so iconic that it isn’t really a surprise even if you haven’t seen the film (heck just look at the photo). If you are under 40, try watching this film while remembering that it was filmed in the 60s and is about race relations (among other things).

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

WATCH: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) – Rated PG for sequences of stylized science fiction violence and brief mild language.

The special effects on this film are incredible. One of the first films to replace everything with green screen, this is a wonderful throwback to the Flash Gordon serials of yore. Not everything makes logical sense and the acting ranges from good down to what you would expect from the old serials. The real reason to watch this is the cinematography and Deco art design.

Serenity

WATCH: Serenity (2005) – Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action and some sexual references.

While I did not order the list in any way, this one is my personal favorite. It is amazing that a TV series (Firefly) that was canceled after only 14 episodes (only 11 of which aired) was so popular on DVD that a theatrical release sequel was made. Joss Whedon is a wonderful wordsmith and the dialogue in this movie is crisp and wonderful as are the relationships between the characters. All of the cast are excellent as always but Chiwetel Ejiofor is absolutely amazing as a government operative on their trail.