Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive - TIME AFTER TIME and DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, November 26, 2016


TIME AFTER TIME (1979; Nicholas Meyer)
Of all the myriad things that cinema can do, telling tales of time travel is one of the most compelling. How delightful is the idea that one could jump forward in time and see the future and how civilization and technology have advanced in however many years? Sounds great right? Nope, time travel almost always leads to drama. The two are just inextricably linked. But TIME AFTER TIME handles it all quite well. The setup is pretty ingenious. It presupposes that renowned science fiction author H.G. Wells (who wrote the story of THE TIME MACHINE) actually built himself a working prototype device with which to jump ahead or back many years at a time and plans to travel into the future with it. It also throws in the idea that Jack The Ripper happens to end up at Well's house and that he uses said time machine to escape the authorities when after he's committed a fresh murder and has been tracked to Wells' home. So Wells must then pursue The Ripper into the future ("present" day 1979) and stop him from doing more evil.
As with the BACK TO THE FUTURE film series - which certainly must have taken a few cues from this film (including the idea of a malevolent individual stealing a time machine) - TIME AFTER TIME features a device/vehicle which has a readout of when the traveler originated his journey and when he is headed in time. The machine itself is like a guilted little pod - just big enough for one person. It can move through not only time, but also space. Let's not get bogged down in the technical stuff though, as this film has so much more to offer. The romance between H.G. Wells and Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen) at the center of it is so lovely that it grabs you and pulls you in. In real life, Steenburgen and MacDowell fell for each other while they were making this film and you can feel it in their chemistry together. You can truly tell that they have affection for each other and the low-key way that it all kicks off is so well played that it just feels more vulnerable and touching than the usual meet cutes. McDowell and Steenburgen were married after this film and ended up having two children together, so you know that this film is laced with the magical undercurrents of the beginnings of their real love for each other. It's not entirely rare for two actors to fall for each other while making a film together, but it doesn't always act to elevate the finished movie. In those special instances, when true affection can be captured on film as part of an already good movie - that makes for really memorable cinema.
So you have a cool time travel premise, a good love story, fun (if a bit dated) special effects and a great ensemble. It's absolutely one of those films that you will watch and wonder why more people aren't talking about it all the time and recommending it constantly. Just a gem of a science-fiction yarn if I've ever seen one. And from the director of THE WRATH OF KHAN! All told, it's a very solid little adventure film and it's also PG-rated so might be a good early time travel movie to show your kids. I plan on using this one and BACK TO THE FUTURE as my points of entry for my daughter - she already loves MEET THE ROBINSONS (another great little time travel movie) - so I think my plan is a sound one.
Special Features:
Warner Archive has ported over the features from the old Special Edition DVD which includes a great commentary from Malcolm McDowell and director Nicholas Meyer. Great track, highly recommended. Also, the theatrical trailer is included.

Buy TIME AFTER TIME on Blu-ray Here:
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DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE (1975; Michael Anderson)
The year is 1936. Our hero Doc Savage, like Superman, has an ice-bound Fortress of Solitide where he goes to escape the world and concentrate. Doc's is located (and hidden in an igloo) at a remote location in the Arctic Circle. Doc uses it as a place to get away and sharpen his mind whilst expanding his mind and inventing various cool stuff. When he's in mission mode, Doc is backed up by his braintrust - a group of five geniuses whose expertise lie in various fields. Like Batman, Doc has a small fleet of different vehicles (cars, helicopters, snowmobiles) emblazoned with his name that he and his team use for their various adventures.
Something about the movie makes it feel like a slightly campier BUCKAROO BANZAI-esque kinda thing - more than a decade prior to that cult classic hitting theaters. There's also a sense of INDIANA JONES and the spirit of old serials about the whole thing. Doc originated in pulp magazines of the 1930s and Stan Lee himself has credited him as the predecessor to modern super heroes. Perhaps that's why you can throw in Captain America as another gentleman that he resembles. Doc Savage is an honest and true blue American hero with a code. The movie paints a tongue-in-cheek, but simultaneously earnest picture of him that you'll either buy into or check out of completely. From Ron Ely's pertinacious performance as The Man of Bronze himself to the rousing John Phillip Souza music, the film is an interesting and antiquated anomaly - especially considering when it was released.

Buy DOC SAVAGE on Blu-ray Here:
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