BOTTOM LINE: This is one of my favorite 'little' science fiction flicks. The sci-fi aspect is actually rather minimal. It's the fantastic battle of wits & wills between a clueless yet dogged H.G. Wells and a ruthless, utterly sinister and unrepentant Jack the Ripper that make the film. The movie features a smart and funny-yet-tense script and impressive yeoman performances from Malcolm McDowell and David Warner. And lest we forget the outstanding Mary Steenburgen, without whose terrific work the entire film would fall apart! By all means do yourself a favor and BUY THIS MOVIE!! It's terrific time-traveling entertainment. 5 STARS
THOUGHTS: Ever since I first caught this unassuming little film on cable decades ago I have loved it; utterly & completely. It was such an off the wall concept: H.G. Wells didn’t just write ‘The Time Machine’ but built a working model himself! And, unbeknownst to Wells, a cornered Jack the Ripper uses it to escape, traveling forward to modern day America, forcing the usually reserved Wells to steel his nerves and pursue the bloody serial killer across time! Brilliant! And while the concept is a simple but terrific one, it is the other aspects of the film itself that make it the delight that it is. TIME AFTER TIME excels as first rate entertainment thanks to a tight script and intuitive direction from then first-time director Nicholas (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) Meyer, plus nomination-worthy acting from its three leads. The various bit part actors are equally good. The moody cinematography by Paul Lohmann is appropriately open & light or tight, dark & threatening, as needed. Special mention to the wonderful musical score from veteran composer Miklos Rozsa.
Some might think Malcolm McDowell was an odd choice, being he was then most well-known as the twitchy hateful teen Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, but he’s terrific here; introverted and brilliant yet full of wide-eyed childlike innocence as a hopelessly lost ‘Herbert’ (H.G.) Wells. Likewise, David Warner makes for an absolutely chilling adversary in his underplayed performance as Jack the Ripper. This guy gave me nightmares as a kid when I first saw this. Eversince then, whenever I see or read anything about Jack the Ripper, it’s Warner’s cold, detached face that springs instantly to mind. He just creeped me the hell out, and I mean that as the highest compliment. LOL. Plucky Mary Steenburgen practically steals the whole film away from her two strong male leads, playing Amy Robbins; a thoroughly modern girl who falls head over heals for the befuddled Wells as he struggles to make his way across the cityscape of bustling 20th century San Francisco, desperate to find his nemesis and bring him back to England, and his own time, for judgement. I could rave on and on but suffice it to say that I simply adore this movie and I revisit it frequently, like an old friend, and it never fails to entertain me… time after time after time.
THE BLU-RAY: A basic no frills hi-def transfer from Warner Bros’ Archives Collection. The transfer is excellent and I’m happy to report that there are no digital demons (edge enhancement, artifacting, pixelation, crush or DNR) to detract from the view experience. The picture is clean, crisp and well-balanced, with strong blacks, solid mid-tones and excellent color reproduction. The audio portion is equally good. Thin bonus content is limited to a copy of the film’s theatrical trailer and full-length audio commentary track with Nick Meyer & Malcolm McDowell. It is well worth a listen. It was Meyer’s first turn in the director’s chair, while McDowell first met, fell in love with, and eventually married Steenburgen, so there are a lot of great stories from these two guys as they discuss their work in and reflections of this movie. Overall, this is a minor but solid Blu-ray, absolutely worthy of a double dip if you already own the film on tape or DVD. Highly, highly recommended.