Ultimate Time Travel
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Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

 
4.5/5.0 Stars


 

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is a film I accidentally stumbled upon. It is proof that you can do a fantastic movie with a tiny budget. The tag line says “Dr Who Meets Shaun of the Dead”. That’s a pretty good way of describing it.

 
FAQATT (for short) tells the story of three friends who go to a pub one night. At some point during the evening, when alone, one of the friends is approached by a woman who claims to be a time traveler from the future. To his disbelief she says he’s very famous in the future and she just wanted to meet him. He, of course, does not believe a word she says.

 
When he later shares this with his friends they don’t even believe he saw anyone. But then one of them goes to the restroom and when he returns it seems everyone in the pub has been violently murdered – including a bearded version of himself and his friends! Naturally, when he runs back to the restroom and out again, everything is back to normal and no one believes him.

 
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that this is the beginning of a crazy evening that involves almost every aspect of time travel. Traveling to the future, seeing yourself, the grandfather paradox, the butterfly effect, etc. There are also a lot of nods to other time travel movies (just look at the picture – clearly a nod to Back to the Future). It is also extremely funny, it did remind me a lot of Shaun of the Dead (another fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it). And the best part it – it all makes sense! Unlike other time travel movies – I’ll even generalize and say science fiction movies, everything connects at some point and is perfectly clear.

 
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is a hilarious, witty, intelligent, fun time travel movie that shows a good story trumps special effects any day of the week

 
To get Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel from Amazon, click here.

 

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upcoming science fiction movies, is time travel possible, upcoming sci-fi movies

 

I haven’t written a review for quite a while. Busy doesn’t begin to describe what I’m going through. In fact, I haven’t read a book in 3 months, which is probably the first time this has happened since I’ve been 5 years old (I read a LOT of books).

 

So last week, I was happy to see that a new time travel movie (sort off) came out on DVD that I haven’t seen. If I’m not reading time travel books, I may as well watch some movies.

 

Knowing tells the story of John Koestler, a widower and a father of Caleb. One day, in Caleb’s school, a time capsule is being opened after 50 years in the ground. In case you are not familiar with the term ‘time capsule’. A time capsule is a box that is locked for a specific amount of time. In this case, the box was locked in 1959, and was filled with letters written by children depicting how they envision what the far future would look like (2009). All in all, I think this is a pretty cool idea. My school had something like this when I was 10, we had to envision the year 2000. Feels a bit silly now, doesn’t it? None on the flying cars or robots came into being.

 

But I digress…

 

When Caleb opens his letter, he finds a single page filled with numbers. He thinks it’s some kind of a 50 year old prank and doesn’t pay too much attention to it. However, his father – who’s still recovering from the loss of his wife – and as a result is continuously losing himself to alcohol – accidentally peeks at the paper.

 

What he discovers is that the series of numbers is not random. In fact, it details the date of every single major catastrophe since 1959: the precise date and the number of people who died. Almost all of these events have already occurred except for three. Strangely, there is another set of numbers John can’t fathom.

 

John becomes obsessed with trying to prevent these last three events from occurring. After the first one occurs right on top of him (yet he manages to survive), he solves out another piece of the puzzle: the last set of numbers is coordinates that define where the event is going to happen.

 

Armed with this knowledge, he tries to prevent the next catastrophe. I won’t say how this turned out, but I will say that the next – and the last – catastrophe didn’t have any coordinates at all.

 

Before we started watching with movie I told my wife that based on the trailer I think it’s going to be a somewhat unusual time travel movie. I’m not sure what made me think so, something in it just seemed out of place (and trust me, I know my time travel stories). I was right. Although a large portion of the movie deals with future knowledge and how to prevent it, there is a second story taking place. I don’t want to spoil the movie by revealing what it is about, I’ll just say that it was rather bizarre – and made the movie much less predictable than a Hollywood movie should have been.

 

All in all, I thought Knowing was a decent film. The only disadvantage – which unfortunately was not too minor – is that it felt the authors were trying to cram two stories into one. The first with the time travel aspect, and the second, with the story elements I have not discussed. As a result, the movie turned out completely unpredictable (the best types of movie for me), however, it was also quite unfocused, and some parts of the plot simply didn’t make any sense. It’s almost like two voices were competing for attention, and in the end some compromise took place (which I’m guessing is what really happened: the studios combine two stories into one).

 

If you have nothing to do and want to watch a spooky, unpredictable thriller with some time travel elements – go for it. If that’s not your thing, it might be ideal to skip this one.

 

P.S. I know I haven’t written much (or anything) lately. I still care about this site, but have less time than I ever had. At some point it will resume full activity in one form or another (either I will do it, or will get someone to help me – any volunteers?).

 

To get Knowing from Amazon click here.

 

 

 

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Classification: Plot Device

 

Just in case some reader hasn’t seen any of the Terminator movies (is there such a person?). Here’s a quick recap of the series: In the very near future, Skynet, a super-powerful military computer gains consciousness and declares war on Humanity. It is a bitter and costly war, billions of humans die, and in the end we almost lose: but thanks to John Connor, a resourceful and intelligent leader, we manage to win. However, Skynet has many tricks up its sleeve: in the first movie, it sends a Terminator, a cyborg that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger to kill Sarah, John’s mother, before he is born, hoping to alter the timeline and assure a victory. But future John is aware of this plan, and so, he sends someone, a trusted lieutenant, Kyle Reese, to protect her (which he does, quite successfully – and becomes John’s father in the process). In terminator 2, John is a young teenager, and Skynet sends a powerful, shape-shifting new type of Terminator (the T-1000) to kill him. However, future John sends a ’standard’, Terminator to protect his younger counterpart (again, oddly enough, one that looks like Schwarzenegger. A pretty bad idea, IMO).

 

Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the television equivalent of the Terminator movie franchise. It takes place somewhere between the second and the third movies, and presumably, things will take a different turn of events than they have in Terminator 3. In the show we follow the life of Sarah Connor, and her teenage son, John Connor – future leader of humanity and its savior against the war against the machine.

 

As it turns out, Skynet sends numerous Terminators to kill John and other important figures in the future human resistance. An additional goal of these terminators is setting up operations: machines, weapons, explosives, so that when the war begins, Skynet will be better prepared. Future John is aware of this, so he sends two of his most trusted allies to the past: Cameron, a reprogrammed female Terminator, and Derek Reese, the brother of Kyle Reese – John’s father. He also sends additional agents that work independently – though occasionally the gang has some contact with them.

 

The first season was pretty bland. We follow John’s life as a high school teenager, and episode after episode, he, his mother and Cameron hunt the occasional Terminator sent to the past. It’s not that it was a bad season, but it was just – well – not too interesting. The series does have an additional story, focusing on Cromartie, a terminator sent specifically to kill John (unlike most of the others) that has proven to be quite persistent, resourceful – and very dangerous.

 

After finishing the first season, I nearly gave up the show. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t sure it’s good enough to justify spending time watching it. However, in the second season there was a dramatic improvement. The show stopped killing Terminators every week but started developing a much more complex plot, one that involves future flashbacks. The season included elements such as: a T-1000 (the shapeshifting new type of Terminator) being sent to the past and tries to build skynet – and strangely – teach him ethics. Riley, John’s girlfriend – who knows a lot more about the future than she lets John know. Jesse, supposedly a refugee from the future, but in reality following an agenda of her own. In the second season, Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles became much better. In fact, it’s probably my favorite Sci-Fi TV show on the air (and that’s saying a lot).

 

What I particularly liked about the second season is that it became, darker, much darker – and also – what’s the word I’m looking for: philosophical. For example, there is an episode which focuses on Cameron (the reprogrammed terminator). Since she doesn’t sleep, she likes going at night to libraries to read books and watch old movies in an attempt to gain a better understanding of humans (always a smart thing to better know your prey). During one such visit, she spots an anomaly in one of the old movies from the 20s: she recognizes a Terminator that from some reason was sent there. This causes Cameron to initiate an investigation into the matter in order to discover why was a terminator sent to such a far point of time, and how could its mission be averted.

 

(Skip if you don’t like spoilers): as we later find out, this was not the goal of Skynet: as a result of a malfunction, the poor Terminator simply arrived in the wrong time, and accidentally killed someone in a fire, causing the timeline to diverge. Determined to achieve its mission, it spends decades doing various uncharacteristic things (starting businesses, driving competitors out of business, etc) only so it could restore the timeline to what it is supposed to be, and accomplish its mission: which is to kill someone.

 

This episode is completely unrelated to the main story. In fact, a viewer could skip it and not lose anything. However, including such a ‘minor’ plot adds so much to the series. Not only it is a very intriguing mystery (why was the terminator there?) and a compelling story (how did it restore the timeline?), but we also learn a lot about terminators in general, and Cameron specifically. In my opinion, including this type of episode in a show is what turns a good series into a great series. It’s taking the time to fill in the small details. (one comparable example I can think of is ‘Lower decks’, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode that focuses on several junior officers).

 

Although the series is not over, and things may very well deteriorate, right now I’d give the first season 3.5/5.0, and the second season: 4.5/5.0. However, so far the second season just keeps improving: and I expect greatness from the next seasons. All in all, highly recommended. I just hope it won’t let us down like other shows that used to be good.

 


Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles: the first season on Amazon.com

Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles: the second season on Amazon.com

 

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Classification: Personal Alternate Reality

 

In The Butterfly Effect we follow the life of Evan Treborn, a kid – later a teenager – with an unusual condition. Occasionally when Evan is highly stressed, he blacks out for several minutes. What this means is that he has no memory of what has happened in these periods. But it’s not as if Evan falls in a coma: during these minutes, Evan does and says things – he just has no recollection of what it is he did.

 

When Evan grows up, he begins suspecting these are repressed memories, and he tries to deal with the emotional scarring by reading his childhood diaries. To his amazement, after reading one specific entry that mentioned a blackout, he finds himself back in time – precisely during the blackout period he has just read about. Even more shocking is the discovery that the actions he makes in the past have can change history: and this has the potential of propagating through time and eventually affecting the present.

 

As Evan later trains himself, by focusing while reading his diaries, he is able to travel to those moments he blacked out as a kid, and make different choices – returning to a world often very different from what he left. This is actually far more dangerous than it sounds: often these moments of high stress (where he blacked out) were pivotal moments in Evan’s life, so a tiny change can have an enormous effect on his entire future [which is precisely the meaning of the term 'The Butterfly Effect', by the way].

 

After becoming comfortable with his new found ability, Evan becomes obsessed with using it for a specific goal: he become determined to save Kayleigh, his childhood sweetheart, from her abusive father. For this he repeatedly journeys back through time.

 

Unlike many somewhat similar movies (i.e. Back to the Future), The Butterfly Effect is a very dark film. Some even may even say it is scary. During the course of the movie Evan travels multiple times, to various periods in his life. I’m going to give somewhat of a spoiler, so please skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read it. The point is, although Even repeatedly tries saving Kayleigh, he just seems to make things worse. Every attempt results in a worse and worse reality. In one version he’s in prison, in another he’s an amputee. But every situation is different – diverse – creative! This is what makes time travel books and movies so compelling – and The Butterfly Effect does a very good job at this.

 

Another thing I liked about the Butterfly Effect is that it is filled with mysteries: since we see things from Evan’s perspective, there are many gaps in the plot which are slowly revealed later in the movie. For example, during one of his first blackouts, Evan is playing with his friends, a very peaceful situation. Suddenly, finding himself after a blackout, Evan and all his friends are running away in terror. We know something terrible has happened. But they refuse to discuss this, even years afterwards. What just happened there? This is a pivotal moment in Evan’s life, we later find out. The plot is very well written in this respect, building mysteries gradually and slowly unraveling their secrets in a satisfying way.

 

Admittedly, when I first heard of The Butterfly Effect I had mixed feelings. The premise sounded superb, but then again, Ashton Kutcher playing a time traveler… I don’t know. But I have to say, Ashton did an admirable job.

 

An additional criticism is that there are quite a lot of holes in the plot. Although I’m really not a stickler when it comes to movie details (suspension of disbelief is required for watching any fictional movie), here the number of plot holes is rather large. Nonetheless, I can’t say it interfered with my enjoyment. Just keep this in mind.

 

In summary: A must for a time travel lover. Although the movie didn’t do that well, and I suspect many people would disagree with the high score I gave it, personally, I loved it. I thought it’s a fantastic and worthy addition to the growing collection of time-traveling movies. Highly recommended! Too bad the sequel was quite lame.

 


Link to the DVD on Amazon

 

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Classification: Future Reality

 

The protagonist of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers, a NASA pilot who flies an experimental shuttle in 1987. But a life support failure causes him to freeze – enter suspended animation – only to be successfully revived 500 years afterwards, in the 25th century (specifically, the year 2491).

 

After recovering from the shock of discovering everyone he has ever known is dead, Buck starts exploring the new world of the 25th century, and this is the focus of the show. Buck’s pilot and military training immediately qualify him to serve in the Earth Defense forces. Together with Colonel Wilma Deering, they embark on numerous adventures whose goal is saving the world.

 

As Buck finds out, much has changed in this time: the Earth is now a member of an interstellar empire controlled by Humans, and alien species – both friendly and hostile – have been long discovered. Unfortunately, the world is still a dangerous place. Thus, Buck often embarks on various missions to save the Earth from the series’ main villain, Princess Ardala – A ruthless (and yet attractive) maniac who wants nothing except to conquer the Earth and make Buck her mate [very 70s, I know]. There are other villains, of course.

 

Later on, Buck embarks on a space mission whose goal is looking for lost ‘pockets’ of humanity that have been in hiding since the nuclear war that has occurred on Earth in the 20th century.

 

During his adventures, Buck is brought in contact with various friends and foes: Hawk, an bird-like alien who’s the last surviving member of his species. Crichton, an arrogant Robot. There was also this weird alien creature that could ‘phase’ – and pass through living object (he used to be my favorite) – can’t remember how he was called, but he always used to freak me out.

 

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is one of the TV shows I grew up on as a kid, so it’s possible this review is somewhat biased. It is also possible I’d view it differently if I were to watch it now. But as a kid, I absolutely loved every single aspect of the show: the adventures, the characters, the new universe, the fact Buck is 500 years away from home. It was all so super-cool. Not to mention that I used to think that Buck is the epitome of what a guy should be (hey, I was 7), and had an early crush on Col. Deering (well she WAS very pretty).

 

Since this show was made in the 70s, it is similar to many other sci-fi shows of the time, for better or worse. i.e. Buck has a new girl every episode, though Colonel Wilma Deering is always the ‘true love’ just waiting for him.

 

In Summary: I can’t promise the show has aged well – though I remember it as a wonderful, creative and fun TV show I used to look forward to every week. I’m pretty sure I would still get a kick out of watching it now (I’m actually thinking of ordering the DVD.. hmm). If you’re in your late 20s and above, you’re probably going to love the show. Younger audiences might feel it is somewhat outdated.

 

By the way, I always felt Farscape (that fantasticSci-Fi show was in one large homage to Buck Rogers – even the into was very similar to Buck Rogers’ intro. Now that was one good show).

 


Link to the DVD of the entire series on Amazon

 

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Classification: Plot Device

 

Donnie Darko, the protagonist of the film, is a seventeen year old strange teenager living in Virginia suffering from some serious mental issues (for which he takes medication). Donnie is a social outsider: he has difficulties interacting with his teachers. He is also not very good at making friends. The only person who understands him – at least more than the rest – is his girlfriend, Gretchen.

 

One night, while sleepwalking, Donnie goes outside his house. When he wakes up, he sees a man-sized, horrific looking bunny. The bunny, who calls himself Frank, tells him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. The strangeness doesn’t end here: while Donnie is speaking to Frank, an engine falls of a plane and crashes on the roof of Donnie’s house, destroying his room in the process. This bizarre sleepwalking incident saved Donnie’s life!

 

In the next few days, Donnie’s life turns even more surreal than it is. He begins hallucinating about Frank: at first Frank instructs him to vandalize the school mascot. Then he tries to convince Donnie that he can’t get into trouble anymore. Despite taking medications, and even undergoing hypnotherapy, Frank continues appearing to Donnie. Donnie is confused, more so by the fact Frank hints he can see him by usage of Time Travel, thus, making Donnie obsessed with the subject.

 

This is where I stop. I don’t want to say anything anymore, since the rest may spoil the plot.

 

Donnie Darko has one of the most unusual premises I’ve seen. When I first heard of it, I knew I absolutely had to watch it. And it doesn’t disappoint. Although it basically describes the life of one (almost) average teenager in high school: it’s not the average teenage movie by a long shot. Instead, Donnie Darko is a highly atmospheric, gloomy, creepy film, populated with grotesque characters. On top of that, the acting is superb and the soundtrack is exceptional (have you heard Gary Jules’ Mad World?).

 

While watching the movie, at first I was hooked by the big mysteries: Is Frank real? And if so, who is he? Why does he look like a large mutated bunny? Will the world really end in 28 days? But the film is memorable for other reasons. Although I don’t normally like surreal movies, Donnie Darko can be said to be a spiritual journey: it’s as if we are going on a journey with Donnie; during the course of the movie, we start to deeply care about the pitfalls he faces and his overall fate. I rarely get this feeling from movies or books (in fact, the only other example I have is of a novel I reviewed, An Exaltation of Larks).

 

The best part is the ending. It’s the kind of emotional yet unpredictable ending that makes you want to watch the whole thing again. Better yet, if the message speaks to you, you are changed by this story. Uplifted by Donnie’s journey.

 

I know some consider Donnie Darko to be highly overrated. Perhaps that may be true. But it is definitely one of my all time favorites. it is also quite hard to understand at times. Some say that to completely understand it, one must watch all the extra scenes in the special edition DVD – a claim I agree with.

 

In summary, Donnie Darko is not a cult movie by accident: it is thought provoking, surreal and beautiful. Unusually bizarre, and yet highly compelling, Donnie Darko is a must for lovers of the genre. That being said, it is likely that many would probably not like the film for these very reasons.

 


Click to see Donnie Darko (The Director’s Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) on Amazon

 

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Classification: Future Reality

 

Idiocracy begins when Corporal Joe Bauers, an average soldier (”Joe Average”), is picked for a top secret special experiment. And when I say average, I mean – scientifically average, on every conceivable scale. An additional participant in the experiment is Rita, a prostitute trying to run from her pimp (”Upgrayedd”).

 

As Joe finds out, because he has no family and no attachments, he could be put in a special hibernation device, in which he will sleep for exactly one year, and then wake up. The goal of this study is to enabling soldiers to stay dormant for long periods of time – something the military could find useful.

 

Agreeing to this deal, Joe goes to sleep. But unfortunately, the project gets abandoned somewhere down the road, and 500 years pass before he and Rita are revived – even this occurs purely by accident (the “Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505″).

 

After waking up, Joe is unsure what is going on. Feeling he should see a doctor, he goes to a hospital. But the hospitals are quite different from what he’s used to: the clerk uses a machine to diagnose him – one that is oddly similar to a McDonalds food order machine – and the Doctor’s diagnosis is simply that he’s “fucked up”.

 

Unhappy with this resolution, Joe quickly discovers he’s in bigger trouble. Unfortunately, he has no way to pay for the services he received, and is also no longer marked as a citizen. As a result, Joe is rapidly put on a trial, is found guilty, and finds himself in prison.

 

As Joe slowly discovers, the world of the 26th century is not what we have been dreaming about. It’s a world where commercialism and anti-intellectualism have been allowed to continue in their present trajectory. A world where literally, every single person is an utter idiot. Although the film does mock the future culture, this is not a slapstick comedy – the portrayal of the future is consistent and is quite serious when one thinks about it.

 

This world is in complete disrepair: enormous mountains of garbage, collapsing skyscrapers, food shortages – this is not because people don’t care (though they don’t seem to care much about anything except television), but because they simply don’t know how to maintain things anymore. For example, at some point Joe finds out that the food shortages are a result of the crops dying – which occurs because they are being watered with Brawndo, a Gatorade like futuristic beverage. When he suggests replacing this with water everyone protest because “It has electrolytes!” (they don’t know what it is, when he asks).

 

But Joe has one big advantage. In the 26th century, he is literally the smartest person alive – much smarter than anyone else. Joe must figure how to use his awe-inspiring intellect to get out of this predicament, and find a way to return to the past (his defense lawyer, Frito Pendejo, told him that one such “Time Machine” exists).

 

Although Idiocracy is in many ways the ultimate Dystopia, it gave me a chilling feeling that it is not that far fetched. The film examines the theory that we – humanity as a whole – are getting dumbed down as there’s no more evolutionary pressure exerted on us. Furthermore, as the modern intelligent person often doesn’t have time for making kids, and if he does, it’s only one or two, the overall result is increasingly levels of stupidity in the population.

 

The portrayal of the future felt very convincing, and even though the movie didn’t obviously try to be perceived as a comedy (although it clearly is), there are numerous moments that are purely hilarious. For example, in the 26th century, the best movie of the year is called “Ass”, and is simply a 90 minute movie about a person’s ass which occasionally farts. It gets absolute roars in the movie theater, and wins an Oscar.

 

Mike Judge, the creator of this movie (and of the fantastic Office Space – which unfortunately I can’t review since it has no Time Travel elements), has crafted a sharp satire about the way society is deteriorating. Although I believe (and dearly hope!) he’s mostly wrong, some of what we see in the future he suggests feel all too possible.

 

My summary: In general, I felt this is an excellent movie, and I really enjoyed it. That being said, I’m not entirely certain why it wasn’t more successful. Although at times it feels that many of the jokes repeat themselves, I doubt this is the reason. Oh well. Idiocracy is a funny, sharp and witty satire: highly recommended!

 


Link to the DVD’s details on Amazon.com

 

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Classification: Past and Future Time Travel

 

In The Time Tunnel, we are introduced to a secret government research facility buried deep in the (Arizona?) desert. There, a team of scientists has built a time machine called ‘The Time Tunnel’. Why exactly is this machine built is never explained: conveiably, the government envisioned some sort of information gathering abilities.

 

As often with this type of expensive program, there comes a time when a political hotshot attempts to shut it down. Growing alarmed at this prospect, one of they key scientists, Dr. Tony Newman, sends himself back in time in order to prove that it works. His plan succeeds: he finds himself in the past… on the sinking Titanic! (Out of all the places..)

 

Unfortunately, from some unknown technical reasons, the team in the present discovers it is unable to recall Tony: pull him back to the present. They do, however, maintain the ability to witness what Tony is experiencing, but that is no help. Tragically, it seemed Tony is doomed to go down with the Titanic!

 

But Dr. Doug Phillips, Tony’s colleague and good friend, refuses to accept this. He, too, activates the Time Tunnel and sends himself to the Titanic. I’ll stop here. You’ll have to see the first episode to find out how it resolves.

 

During the rest of the show, we see that the research team is unable to recall Doug and Tony. However, as said, they are able to view what is going on with them, as well as occasionally send the odd useful item to the past. Although they keep attempting to recall them, this never works. Though at times someone else, a native of the current time, is occasionally pulled to the present. That being said, they are always eventually able to transport Tony and Doug to other periods of history in the hope that they’ll eventually return home.

 

Strangely enough, Doug and Tony have a knack of finding themselves in historical situations, usually just about the time things are about to go wrong. But fortunately, both are quite knowledgable about various historical eras, so they usually manage to come out unharmed. Truly bizarre, no? I’ve always wondered why can’t Doug and Tony find themselves stuck in a really good time for a while, sipping Margaritas on the beach ;) . But no can do. Let’s just say it is this way: if The Time Tunnel: The Next Generation is ever to be made, in the first episode, Doug and Tony would find themselves on the top floor of Twin Towers during 9/11. Mark my words.

 

As someone who did not grow up in the United States, for me The Time Tunnel represents the ultimate time travel show. When I was a kid, whenever a new Time Tunnel episode was released, I – together with all of my friends – would watch it in awe. Although it is quite possible that from a grownup’s perspective it won’t seem the masterpiece that I remember it to be, I’d take that risk any day. It really was a very good show – me, my friends, our parents – we were all glued to the screen.

 

During their adventures, Doug and Tony visit the Titanic, a future expedition to the moon, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Civil War, Nazi Germany in WW 2, the French revolution, Troy (before it fell), the old west (when Aliens took over!) and many more places. This offered a truly diverse set of stories, settings and historical characters.

 

What I particularly loved about The Time Tunnel is the seriousness in which it was made. It’s almost as if the producers wanted to us to learn history – the plot never turned into Kitsch or slapstick (as too many modern shows do). It just felt real.

 

In summary: Interesting, fun, serious, diverse, challenging, scary at times (ah, the episode where Aliens took over the present), the Time Tunnel is the ultimate Time Travel television show. Although it will definitely look outdated (it was made in the 60s), if you can let that fact go, I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

 


The Time Tunnel – Volume One on Amazon

 


The Time Tunnel – Volume Two on Amazon

 

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Classification: Personal Alternate Reality

 

In what begins as a typical office movie (i.e. Office Space), we are introduced to Barry Thomas, a lowly officer worker sitting in his cubicle and dreaming of a better future. As we find out, Barry doesn’t really like his job; but he does like fantasizing about Lisa, an attractive, very senior scientist who works for the same firm. Unfortunately Lisa barely even notices Barry; he is so beneath her, on so many levels, that he’s literally insignificant from her perspective.

 

One day, on his way home after finishing work (coincidentally exactly when Lisa finishes her work), Barry witnesses a mysterious gunman driving by. To his shock and horror, the gunman shoots Lisa and kills her on the spot. Immediately afterwards, the gunman disappears. That night Barry goes to a bar and gets really drunk. In a weird turn of events, he somehow gets zapped by a powerful electricity surge – exactly at 12:01am.

 

His very next memory is waking up in his bed, having no clue how he got there. Puzzled, Barry continues with his daily routine. He goes to work, and to his amazement, notices that the day’s events are identical to the events of the day before. Even more bizarrely, no one seems to remember the previous day’s events, including Lisa’s death (which has affected everyone). When he tries to investigate what happened to her, he finds out – to his great shock – that Lisa is not dead at all, and very much alive. But the day’s events repeat themselves perfectly: after finishing work, Lisa gets murdered once again. It is then Barry realizes he somehow has gone back in time and is reliving the previous day’s events.

 

The next day begins, and Barry quickly finds out it’s the same day all over. But this time he refuses to accept this, and begins investigating what is going on. Determined to save Lisa, Barry begins unraveling the mystery, an investigation which leads him to a shady and dangerous conspiracy. However, he has a unique advantage: he can allow himself to do dangerous things, knowing that tomorrow everything will be reset, except for the knowledge he has gained.

 

Will Barry find out what happened? Will he save Lisa? Will he stop this temporal loop? Watch the movie to find out!

 

One of the most appealing aspects of the Time Travel sub-genre, to me, is the witnessing someone’s ability to make different actions, and the effect they have on the final outcome. There aren’t many movies that do that (though it does seem every science fiction show has at least one such episode: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stargate SG1, etc). 12:01 certainly does an admirable job at this: it offers a good mystery that is slowly unraveled during Barry’s investigation, a fast paced story, and decent acting. Not to mention Jeremy Piven as Barry’s sidekick. Overall, it’s definitely an excellent movie. The only reason I’m not giving it an even higher ranking is the fact that it lacks a certain ‘brilliance’ (which Groundhog’s Day had in my humble opinion). If the film had this – how shall I say – unique twist or a philosophical perspective – it could have become a classic. Then again, maybe all that is missing is Bill Murray in the main part. I don’t know. Unfortunately that is not the case.

 

Lacey shared an interesting anecdote with me about 12:01. Apparently, it used to be a series of 15 minute television movies on Showtime (probably) that later evolved to this movie. I never heard of this – shame, probably could have been really good.

 

In summary, 12:01 is a highly entertaining, fun action/sci-fi movie. Definitely recommended.

 


Link to the DVD on Amazon.com

 

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Classification: Alternate Reality

 

A Sound of Thunder is the movie version of Ray Bradbury’s famous short story. This short story is responsible for the term “the butterfly effect”… and now that I’ve told you that, you can probably guess the movie’s entire plot. The movie version is slightly different from the short story, though the basic idea is the same.

 

A couple of decades from now, in 2055, a company perfects a technology that enables sending people back in time. Primarily intending the technology to be used for money making, they offer a tourist package to wealthy people: pay a hefty fee, and go back with a tour guide on a great dinosaur hunting adventure.

 

As a side note, one can’t help but wonder why the inventors of this technology simply cannot go back a few days and – oh, I don’t know – buy lottery tickets that with the winning numbers (which are already known in the present). Nonetheless, this is generally a legitimate premise.

 

Back to the plot: there are two types of risks for the company. The first is that someone may get hurt: dinosaurs are exceptionally dangerous creatures, and even with a highly trained team, something can still go wrong. The second is subtler: during a trip to the past, there is a risk that something may be changed that will propagate through time and affect the present in catastrophic ways.

 

In order to ward off this dangerous possibility, the company has a very specific set of rules on how the tourists and personnel should act: they are only allowed to walk on a designated path, which is heavily monitored by the security personnel. Furthermore, they are only allowed to shoot a specific dinosaur that is already known to have died in the near future. Thus, they believe the timeline would be preserved.

 

But something goes wrong: when a tyrannosaurus rex fails to die, a client panics and leaves the approved path. Fortunately, the security team takes over and nothing bad happens. Everyone then quickly returns to the present, and are relieved to see all is as it should be. Phew!

 

But not long afterwards certain things begin to change… and not just once, but multiple times. A careful investigation finds that when the client went off the path, he accidentally stepped on a prehistoric butterfly-like creature, which is found, dead, on the tourist’s shoe. Apparently, this started a cascade of events that has enormous ramifications on the present. I won’t spoil the rest – you’ll have to see the movie to find out!

 

Bradbury’s short story is a classic, in particular since it illustrates a subtle point very well. In the story, someone accidentally steps on a butterfly, and when he returns everything is completely different – the entire society is transformed. In my opinion, this is really how the story should be told. However, since translating this story into film will only take 20-25 minutes, the movie drags the point much, much longer.

 

Even worse, the movie turns this rather imaginative premise to an action/horror movie… and not even a good one! Although the acting was not bad, the plot dragged way too long, the effects weren’t that good, and – well – it wasn’t that interesting! I don’t intend to spoil the movie, but the final scene was unintentionally comical (it was probably supposed to be horrific!). Really gave me a good laugh.

 

In summary, an okay action/sci-fi movie, if you have nothing else to do. Otherwise, skip it.

 


Link to the DVD on Amazon.com

 

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Time Travel Movies