Apparently this is based on HG Wells The Time Machine but one can't help wondering if the producers read another book with the same title? Perhaps some of the commentators here also read that book because as someone who did read Wells original novel I can state without any embarrassment and reservation that the first half of this TVM has absolutely nothing in common with the book except for a vague premise of having someone building a time machine
The story takes place in a contemporary setting where a Soviet satellite falls out of orbit and threatens Los Angles and scientist Neil Perry saves the day but coming to the conclusion that because there's too many people in the control room their body heat is interfering with the missile sent up to destroy the satellite. Does this make sense? The lack of credibility is exaggerated by casting John Beck as Perry since he looks like a 70s porn star, think of John Holmes with a sensible haircut and you've got the idea
Some military type then takes Perry side and asks him what he's done with the $20 million dollars he's received from the government and you can't blame him because if you' look like a porn star and flirt with a secretary old enough to be your grandmother you might have the instinctive fear that it's been blown on cocaine. Thankfully Porno Perry has invested it all in to a time machine which he's just tried out
I might have to re-read the book but I'm pretty certain that in the original novel the protagonist didn't get tied to the stake by 17th century puritans and almost burned alive. The puritans were considerate enough to have Perry sit in his machine while the flames take hold so he's able to literally use his head to escape. I had thought for a moment Porno Perry might have used another part of his anatomy to use his controls but this is an American TVM so no offence is allowed - except offending anyone who has read the book
It's not Perry's day however because he soon finds himself caught up in the California gold rush, imprisoned and escapes town while there's a gunfight between good guys and bad guys. It's at this point you think the only bad guys in the world are the people who produced this aberration of literature claiming it's based upon a novel by the most influential writer of the 20th Century. We're now half way through the TVM and there's not been one single scene that has been taken directly from the book
Thankfully Perry now travels in to the future where he gets involved with the Eloi and Molochs thereby showing at long last showing at long last why this travesty might owe anything to HG Wells and in keeping with the rest of the TVM it's bland and uninvolving replacing Darwinian subtext with pacifist agitprop
Some people may claim the 1960 and 2002 movie versions did change Wells text to a large degree but this was justified. Both films were highly entertaining and the 1960 version especially had lots of charm along with Rod Taylor's time traveler being disgusted as to what mankind had become, he was still recognizably a Wellsian character. Here however we're watching a very cheap and charmless production with not very good actors slumming it in a script devoid of any intellect. Wells must have been turning in his grave and this is possibly the worst film adaptation of any book brought to screen.
Review by Theo Robertson from the Internet Movie Database.