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Nicholas Meyer
Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen, Charles Cioffi
Karl Alexander, Steve Hayes

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.
Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $21.98
Release Date: 11/15/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Nicholas Meyer and Actor Malcolm McDowell
• Theatrical Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Time After Time [Blu-Ray] (1979)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 21, 2016):

In general, we find two kinds of time travel movies. One variety takes people from the present and sends them to different eras. The Back to the Future flicks went that way, as did the TV show Quantum Leap.

The other sort shows folks from different eras who come to visit the present. That happened in the Terminator movies as well as Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Normally movies of the latter variety feature future people who head back into the past. This makes sense since those films need to develop a reality in which time travel exist. Since we know that inhabitants of the 19th century lacked the technology to make this happen, it wouldn’t seem feasible for them to come and visit us.

Or would it? In 1979’s Time After Time, writer/director Nicholas Meyer finds a way to bring a resident of 1890s Britain into the 20th century and still allow it to seem believable. He does this via the use of a historical figure of the era: writer HG Wells.

In the film, we learn that Wells (Malcolm McDowell) actually constructed the device depicted in his novel The Time Machine. He reveals this to a panel of cronies that includes respected surgeon John Lesley Stevenson (David Warner).

Unbeknownst to Wells or his friends, however, it turns out that Stevenson is actually the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper. Minutes before the confab, Jack offed another prostitute, and the police track him to Wells’ place. However, Stevenson makes an inexplicable escape.

Before too long, Wells figures out what happened. Stevenson took off in the time machine and landed in 1979, where he remains. A safety mechanism causes the device to come back to Wells’ basement, and HG heads out in search of his villainous friend.

The craft lands in 20th century San Francisco, not Wells’ native London. Wells attempts to get his bearings in this new society - one that he believed would be a social utopia - while he also tracks Stevenson.

As part of the latter effort, Wells meets Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen), a bank employee who exchanges foreign currency. She encountered Stevenson the prior day and tells Wells at what hotel to find the villain. She also makes a move on him, as she quickly becomes smitten with him. We follow their love story as well as the pursuit of Stevenson.

Over the years, Time After Time earned a great deal of positive attention, but I never saw it until I received the DVD in 2002. I think all of us have films that we want to see but take years to actually do so, and Time was one of those for me.

While I was happy to finally check out Time, I can’t say that it did a lot for me. That said, I enjoyed the film and thought it offered a lot of positives.

The premise seems outstanding. Meyer takes unrelated history via the reality of both Wells and Jack the Ripper and joins them in an inventive way. That linkage might have been enough, but to then send the Ripper across the years and force Wells to play detective and chase him appears inspired.

Though this concept creates many “fish out of water” situations, Meyer doesn’t lay them on too thickly. These bits pop up from time to time – like HG’s visit to McDonald’s - but the film doesn’t rely on them heavily. The movie easily could degenerate into a series of Wells’ reactions to the modern world, so I appreciate the restraint shown by Meyer; he includes just enough to satisfy our appetites.

Time features a solid cast, and they all offer good work. Better known for nasty roles like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, McDowell plays against type as the idealistic and fairly innocent Wells, and he did nicely in the part. He maintains a certain wide-eyed naïveté but also comes across as intelligent and forceful.

Warner manages to make Stevenson believably ruthless and cruel but avoids a one-note performance. Steenburgen brings her usual warmth and likability to the fairly bland role of Amy.

Where Time falters relates to its execution. The film offered Meyer’s first directorial effort, and he still seemed wet behind the ears in that regard.

Time exhibits inconsistent pacing and lacks the necessary focus. I know that Meyer didn’t intend for the Ripper part of the story to be its main thrust, as he felt more interested in the love story between Wells and Amy. That’s fine, but the chase for Stevenson gets a little too lost along the way, so it feels like the story makes too much of a detour.

As with most - if not all - time travel flicks, plot holes cause some issues. Most of these revolve around the existence of the time machine itself. Wells spends much of the movie trying to locate Stevenson and making sure he stops the various murders. Why not use the time machine to go back to the period before the first killing and then show up at that location and halt it?

Because then we’d have no movie. Admittedly, these are small concerns, and when you watch a film of this sort, you really need to toss most thoughts of that sort out of the window; these issues become inevitable.

Despite some problems, Time After Time offers a generally compelling and enjoyable piece. It isn’t quite as terrific as I expected, but it seems fairly solid nonetheless.

The Disc Grades: Picture B / Audio B- / Bonus C+

Time After Time appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not without concerns, overall l found Time to provide a satisfying picture.

Sharpness seemed mostly solid. Some wide shots could be a bit soft, but the majority of the film brought us good delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to appear.

Time presented a fairly subdued palette, and the disc reproduced those tones well. The project took on a brownish tint much of the time, but the different hues seemed appropriately clear and vibrant throughout the movie. I never felt the colors looked terrific, but they appeared more than adequate.

Black levels came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was logically heavy but not overly thick. Low-light situations came across as visible and accurate. In the end, Time After Time looked good enough for a “B”.

The DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack of Time After Time showed its age but it worked reasonably well. Audio spread fairly well across the front channels, but localization of effects seemed somewhat mushy and ill defined at times.

The material didn’t appear to show great placement and integration. This meant the track created a “wall of sound” at times, but I still felt the definition and movement seemed fine for the era, and the score presented nice stereo imaging.

Audio quality was also decent for its era. Speech sounded acceptably natural most of the time, as the lines lacked edginess or other issues. Effects presented fairly accurate and distinct elements, but they lacked much range and also showed some mild distortion at times.

The score appeared to show similar qualities, as the music sounded acceptably clear but could be somewhat flat. In the end, the audio of Time After Time did nothing particularly well, but the results still seemed more than passable for an older film.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio was more accurate and broader, while visuals seemed tighter and cleaner. The Blu-ray gave us the usual improvements, especially in terms of the elimination of print flaws.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an audio commentary from director Nicholas Meyer and actor Malcolm McDowell. Both chat separately for this screen-specific piece, though the editing tries to create the impression they sat together.

This means the commentary’s creators stick the remarks together in a way to make us think that each man responds to the other. They don’t succeed, and I find this approach to become a distraction.

Otherwise, this commentary seems interesting, as Meyer and McDowell cover a nice mix of topics. They go over the genesis of the piece and its general production as well as anecdotes from the set and statements about the other participants.

They also discuss their impressions of certain parts of the movie, and those comments include a few criticisms as well. A few moderately large empty spots occur during the commentary, but otherwise, this track offers a pretty entertaining and informative piece.

With its creative premise, Time After Time remains a cult favorite among movie fans. I think the film does more right than wrong, but it doesn’t totally wow me. Nonetheless, it provides a lively and clever experience that works for the most part. The Blu-ray provides largely good picture and audio along with an interesting commentary. The movie remains enjoyable after nearly 40 years

To rate this film visit the original review of TIME AFTER TIME

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