TIME AFTER TIME (1979) - PG
This tense thriller adventure time-travel yarn begins in 1890's London, with H.G. Wells inviting his friends over to see his new invention, a time travel machine. One friend, John Leslie Stevenson who was revealed as Jack the Ripper, is on the run from the police and steals H.G. Wells operational time machine. When the machine comes back, young H.G. pursues him through time, landing in 1979 San Francisco, in hot pursuit, in order to try to stop him, before he kills again.
This film could be compared to "The Time Machine". TIME
AFTER TIME features romance, action, and great use of the San Francisco
locations. Malcom McDowell and Mary Steenburgen have great chemistry,
as the lovers from different times. David Warner is very spooky as Jack
the Ripper. A highlight is McDowell's first trip to a fast food restaurant.
The cast includes: Malcolm
Steenburgen, Joseph Maher, Patti D'Arbanville, and Charles Cioffi.
Directed by Nicholas Meyer.
Following another grisly murder in 1890, London,
Jack the Ripper uses H.G. Wells time machine to escape. When the
machine automatically returns to the past, Wells takes it to 1979,
San Francisco, in pursuit of the evil Jack.
In modern day San Francisco, Wells has fun encountering the modern
world. He also meets and falls in love with a pretty bank teller,
a very modern woman. In the meantime, Jack is killing women in
the city by the bay.
In a showdown between Jack and Wells, Jack escapes in the time
machine, but Wells removes the key, sending a screaming Jack through
time and space, without benefit of the time machine. The bank
teller decides to travel back in time to 1890, London, with Wells.
Writer/Director Nicholas Meyer's, TIME AFTER TIME, is one of the
true class acts of the time travel sub-genre, a worthy successor,
(though more adult in theme), to George Pal's well regarded classic,
"The Time Machine".
The film opens, in 1890's, London, with images (Big Ben), and
Music (by Miklos Rozza) appropriately reminiscent of the old Rathbone/Bruce
Sherlock Holmes movies. Almost immediately, we are there as Jack
the Ripper, (David Warner), kills a prostitute in a chilling fashion.
Shortly after Jack, whose real name is Dr. John L. Stevenson,
joins a dinner party at the home of young H.G. Wells, (a perfectly
cast Malcom McDowell), who's about to show his friends his new
invention: a time machine. Faster than you can say time paradox,
the cops show up, hot on the trail of Jack/John, who escapes to
the future in Wells' time machine.
The bulk of the movie takes place, in 1979, San Francisco, which
is where Jack/John has ended up, and where Wells' pursuit takes
him. When Jack/John goes on a killing spree of woman, in San Francisco,
Wells' is determined to stop him.
While a lot of the film is serious, there's plenty of lighter
moments as well. Watching the Victorian Wells, (McDowell), encounter
modern society is delightful. During a great McDonalds scene,
Wells rubs a shiny red plastic table, then remarks to a fellow
patron: "I've never seen wood like this." This is my
favorite scene in the film.
Many great films have a love story, and TIME AFTER TIME is no
exception. Mary Steenburgen/,Amy Robbins, is a modern, liberated
lady who Wells meets on the path of Jack/John. With her white
complexion and cascading ringlets of black hair, Steenburgen looks
like she's from another era, and makes a perfect match for young
H.G., allowing Wells, (and the viewer), to experience "free
love", late 1970's style.
The film builds to a great conclusion, which I will not reveal
out of respect for the viewer.
Strangely enough, for a movie about time travel, the Special Effects
aren't so special, particularly during an early scene where Wells
travels from his time, to 1974; but the film's story, pacing,
stars, and music more than make up for this strange deficiency.
TIME AFTER TIME is a good time indeed, and should be highly watchable
for most Sci-Fi fans.
BEST BETS: THE
TIME MACHINE and BACK
TO THE FUTURE.