Written by Old Bluffer 27th Feb 2008
In the far flung future of Earth, civilisation collapsed due to the moon being destroyed by mankind's innate ability to feck up the natural order of the cosmos. Humanity split into two disparate sub species during the apocalyptic aftermath - the Eloi and the Morlocks. The former are all rather comely specimens and are essentially just normal humans, without many clothes on. The morlocks on the other hand are grotesque trogolydytes who live deep below ground and shun daylight.
It would appear that the Eloi have the best of things, until you realise that they have a racial fear of something hunting them at night, and that the Morlocks can't possibly be growing enough underground mushrooms to satisfy their RDA of nutrients.
The Time Machine design looks to have taken inspiration from a Pokemon Ball, although admittedly with more brass
It transpires that the Morlocks' diet consists pretty much solely of Eloi, whom they pluck at their leisure each time they are feeling peckish. Making this task even easier is their leader's psychic abilities which allow them to keep their prey in a state of passive acceptance at their penultimate place in the food chain. They do a pretty good job of this too, with the Eloi so meek they would make the Amish look like a gang of Clockwork Orange droogs. The morlock responsible for this telepathic emasculation of the human race is the Über Morlock, presumably descended from Jeremy Irons. We can tell he has awesome psionic powers as his brain is so large it juts out of the back of his skull. He is effectively a god in this part of the world as he controls the Eloi livestock and his Morlock drones alike.
When he encounters the time-travelling, 19th Century professor, Alexander Hartdegen, he reads his memories with ease, and taunts him by conjuring up a mental illusion of what life would have been like if his love hadn't been killed, and they'd started a family.
He also reveals the answer to why the academic failed to save her life, which is glibly stated as :
"You built your time machine because of Emma's death. If she had lived it would never have existed, so how could you use your time machine to go back and save her? [...] You're a man haunted by those two most terrible words, 'What If?'"
Now I personally think this shows a lack of understanding from the morlock about how time travel works, but there you go. Anyway, his taunting isn't quite so effective as he may wish, as by this point Hartdegen has mostly given up on his long dead woman and concentrated his efforts instead on the fresh-faced cutie he has met in the Eloi village. She has now been captured and has just been selected as breeding stock for a new Morlock Colony. The Morlocks have been bred into specific castes - scouts, hunters etc, and presumably need genetic diversity to keep their species going - and if these genes come by way of someone that looks like Samantha Mumba then all the better.
Creepy goth resorts to the tried and trusted Morlock Wooing Technique of caging and hypnotising his chosen babe.
After a bit of Morlock Philosophy, delivered with deadpan aplomb by Jeremy Irons, the uber morlock inexplicably decides to let the Time Traveller have his machine back and leave. Hartdegen pretends to agree to this, but then cheekily asks for his old pocket watch back. "We all have our time machines..." deadpans Irons, giving Hartdegen to opportunity to whip the chain around his wrist and yank him into the machine, where minor scuffling ensues.
It should hardly go without saying that the human gets the worst of it for the first part of the fight, until he manages to break a valve and jet some steam into the uber morlock's face. This scalds him painfully enough that he ends up precariously hanging part-in and part-out of the machine. Hartdegen of course activates the controls and the Head Honcho of this morlock clan has all of his body apart from his hands catapulted violently into the future, with all the unpleasant decaying and decomposition effects you would expect. One wonders if product testers for Oil of Olay experience a similar fate.
Death by rapid aging, we've seen it done before and we've seen it done with more sophisticated sfx
As a followup to this party piece, Hartdegen ends up at the very end of history for Planet Earth, which is seemingly still dominated by Morlock Overlords. Given that he doesn't really have anywhere else to go, he heads back to Samantha Mumba, and then sets the controls to explode violently some moments into the future. This gives him and his new bit of fluff enough time to make their escape (pursued enthusiastically by CGI morlocks) and then turn round and enjoy the destruction of the Morlock Base.
Old Bluffer's Thoughts
This film isn't terrible, despite some reviews, and much of the cinematography is quite inventive and pleasant to look at. The story doesn't make any great sense though, and there are no moments that could be reasonably be called exciting that I can recall. More of something to look at whilst eating popcorn then, rather than a must-see piece of cinema. One thing I did enjoy - why did Hartdegen go to the effort of installing so many numeric brass "year" discs to record the current date if he only intended to go back five years?! That is some serious over engineering when you can accidently go forwards 800,000 years and still have your mechanical machine accurately tell you the date!
There wouldn't have been any "Year 2000" crisis in our own time if Hartdegen was in charge of the software design!
Keen MDDB visitors will notice the controversial "Ambivalent" status I've given to the uber morlock. He is undeniably the main "baddie" character that the humans have to deal with in this film, but I'm not convinced he's quite evil enough to qualify as a villain. After all, his main motivation is to ensure his own people have enough food, and by the standards of the eco-system he was born into he is justified in using the Eloi. Besides, he doesn't really have much of a choice, the morlocks can't venture out into the light and presumably need meat - and this sorry existence was all caused by the humans anyway. As he says : "Who are you to judge 800,000 years of evolution?"