Customer Reviews: Time After Time
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It has been a while since I've reviewed something on my lifelong favorite's list. So I've chosen "Time After Time" because it isn't very well known by younger audiences nor is it necessarily considered a "classic."
However, I instantly fell in love with this movie over 25 years ago--and I still consider it a rip-roaring good time!

Starting out with the most bizarre plot ever, "Time After Time" will keep you enthralled. It is a glorious popcorn flick--fast, light, fun, and exciting in equal measures. Set in 1893, we meet H. G. Wells (Malcolm MacDowell) who is unknowingly friends with Jack The Ripper (David Warner). MacDowell has constructed a time machine which Warner misappropriates as he is fleeing the authorities. He travels to modern day San Francisco where he continues his murderous ways. MacDowell follows him, he must stop Jack The Ripper! He meets up with a local woman, Mary Steenburgen, who helps him adjusts and ultimately gets caught up in his unlikely story.

"Time After Time" succeeds in several different genres concurrently. This is a credible sci-fi pic, a sweet romance, a fish out of water comedy, as well as a decent serial killer thriller. I think that's what I love and respect about this film, it's out there. There is no way that this picture should work, it should be terrible. And yet, inexplicably, Nicholas Meyer has crafted an intricate and audacious work. Even if I didn't love this movie, I would respect its ambition and scope. But love it I do, this is one of the most wildly entertaining pictures you could hope to see. Some people might be tempted to dismiss this work as dated or even slight--and yes, you do have to accept that this is a product of the 70's. There are references to "free love" and other concepts of the era, but at the same time--the film is incredibly prescient about violence in the modern age. Every time Warner describes how he was meant to exist in this future, where killings and debauchery are commonplace, I understand a real truth in his sentiment.

The performances are cracking good. MacDowell is the unlikeliest hero and a refreshing romantic lead. Warner has NEVER NEVER been better. If you are even a passing fan of his, you must see this picture. And Mary Steenburgen is a delight--she doesn't do enough these days! Maybe this isn't highbrow entertainment, but it is dazzling fun. Recommended to all without even the slightest hesitation. KGHarris, 12/06.
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It's amazing that with time travel stories having been around for 100 years that we can continue to think of variations. In this case the variation is a good one, perhaps one of the best that has ever been done.

A relatively innocent and naive H.G. Wells, well-played by a Malcolm McDowell very different from the one that played Alex in "A Clockwork Orange," sets the stage for Jack the Ripper, played by David Warner, to travel forward into 1979 to menace modern San Francisco.
The movie has a few flaws. The special effects of time travel are a bit cheesy. Fortunately, time travel is a device to set the stage for the movie, and the weak special effects can be forgiven given the quality of the rest of the movie. As for why the time machine moved from London to San Francisco, there isn't any really good way to explain how that happened. The best explanation I can give is that the Earth was spinning below the time machine as it maintained a fixed location. However, gravity must have played a role because had the movement of the earth been the only reason for the location change, both Jack the Ripper and H.G. Wells would have ended up in outer space as the Earth and the solar system moved out from under them. If you can suspend your belief in time travel you can also suspend your belief in how the time machine moved.

Getting past the special effects you get to a marvelous early performance by twenty-five year old Mary Steenburgen. She plays a very modern woman to Malcolm McDowell's Victorian naivete, and while she is very modern, holding an executive position and talking about sexual relationships with the casualness of pre-AIDs 1979, she also has an innocence of her own that is well suited to Malcolm's character.

David Warner, who has often played in bad guy roles, moves from relatively restrictive Victorian London to the relatively violent society of 20th century San Francisco, where, as he tells Malcolm McDowell, he fits right in with his violent ways. David projects such a wonderful matter-of-fact evil that is perfectly believable and all the more frightening because he seems so normal except when threatening or killing someone. His casual tendency to bloody violence (which unfortunately leads to more periodic weak special effects when blood splatters) contrasts well with the relative innocence of McDowell and Steenburgen.

The entire point of the movie is that H.G. Wells created the time machine that allowed Jack the Ripper to escape to wreak havoc on modern utopian society (so H.G. Wells thought it would have to be), and Wells feels obligated to stop him. Jack must prevent Wells from interfering with his plans, and so must obtain the key of the time machine from Wells. So each character is pursuing the other for the majority of the film.
While the principal story is the chase between McDowell and Warner, McDowell and Steenburgen develop a perfectly matched romance that becomes the secondary and ultimately a very important part of the story. The movie would have survived on the romance alone, but then it would have been very similar to the Christopher Reeve movie "Somewhere in Time" released the year after this movie that was primarily about romance, and relied more on fantasy than science fiction.

The climax of this movie builds until the ultimate showdown between McDowell and Warner that contains enough surprises that all but the most jaded of movie fans should find suspenseful (no, I'm not going to give away the ending just in case you haven't seen the movie). The first time I saw this movie I know I was surprised by the last 15 minutes or so.

The DVD is filled with a variety of extras that more than make this movie worth the relatively paltry price. Certainly the story makes it a fitting companion to the earlier George Pal version with Rod Taylor taking the lead role.

Almost a 5-star rated movie, be prepared to watch it for McDowell's wide-eyed innocent view of modern San Francisco as he chases about after someone who has no such innocence. One of the best stories set with a time travel background, and well done by the lead actors.
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on August 12, 2002
Nicholas Meyer's gem of a film imaginatively catapults Victorian-era novelist H.G. Wells against the diabolical villainy of Jack the Ripper in San Francisco circa 1979. Malcom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) delivers an exceptional and convincing performance as the innocently naive Herbert George Wells whose idealistic dream of a futuristic utopia is disillusioned by the hedonistic, technological and violent decadence of the late twentieth century. David Warner is comfortably at home in the present day as the sinister John Leslie Stevenson alias Jack the Ripper. Mary Steenburgen (Back to the Future III) is remarkable as the innocent love interest for Wells, especially when one considers that the fireworks were both on-screen and off between her and co-star McDowell making the romantic chemistry between the two all the more credible. Director Nick Meyer (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) pays homage to George Pal's vision of The Time Machine complete with Jules Verne style production design and a memorably vintage score from veteran composer Miklos Rozsa. This DVD presentation includes a theatrical trailer for the film as well as trailers for both George Pal's 1960 version and Simon Well's (great-grandson of H.G. Wells) 2002 version of The Time Machine and feature-length audio commentary with Malcolm McDowell and Nicholas Meyer providing retrospective insight into the production of the film. Time After Time is one of the most creatively imaginative "What-If?" tales to be fictionalized for cinema and is a film to be watched and enjoyed "Time After Time."
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on April 22, 2006
This has always been an interesting movie to watch because of the unique storyline: two famous characters in history traveling ahead in time and the opposing each other in the modern world.

Time travel stories appeal to me, anyway, so it's no surprise I found it fascinating. Regardless, there is such a good combination of drama, suspense, comedy, action and romance that it would appeal to most anyone.

Malcolm McDowell is particularly good as H.G. Wells and David Warner is chilling as Jack The Ripper. Mary Steenburgen, even though she is a big '70s liberal-feminist, is still appealing to me, probably because of her face and voice.

This is just a fun movie to watch and I've enjoyed viewing this about every four or five years now for 20 years. there are no dull spots in this movie.
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on March 15, 2001
Director Nicholas Meyer, who had already toyed with placing historical figures into speculative fiction with his earlier effort "The Seven Per Cent Solution" (pairing the fictional Sherlock Holmes with Sigmund Freud in a murder mystery) perfected this device in "Time After Time". Meyer cleverly puts H.G. Wells into one of the famous author's own speculative whimseys...a time machine, and through a bizarre set of circumstances sends him hurtling into the late 1970's to chase down the infamous Jack the Ripper. As silly as that premise appears on paper, it results in one of the most exciting, intelligent, and even (gulp!) touchingly romantic sci-fi films ever. Stars Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenbergen exhibit genuine romantic screen chemistry (not suprising, as it was this pairing that led to their eventual real-life marriage!) Veteran sociopath David Warner makes for a genuinely creepy Ripper. Most of the levity ensues from McDowell's 19th-century Victorian gentleman coming to grips with late 20th century San Francisco (a device borrowed a few years later by Leonard Nimoy when he helmed "Star Trek IV", although his time travellers came from the other direction). A winner on all counts!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 14, 2005
It's not often you find a well-done romance featuring Jack the Ripper. A young Herbert George Wells in 1893 London invites a few close friends to his home for a meal and a look at his latest invention. It's a time machine, and he intends to use to it visit the future, which because of science and man's intelligence he is sure will be a utopia. The police interrupt his evening gathering because Jack the Ripper has struck again and they know he is in the neighborhood. But when his guests leave, one is unaccounted for, and the time machine is missing. It returns empty, having gone to November 5, 1979, where Herbert's friend, Dr. John Leslie Stevenson now known to be Jack, got off. Herbert gathers what money he has, packs a travellling bag, and sets off in pursuit. He cannot let the madman who was his friend infect utopia.

Wells winds up in San Francisco. He meets Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen), a bank teller who helps him with some of his strange money, rather likes his curiously old-fashioned suit, and then helps him just get around. The future turns out to be a difficult and confusing place. He and Mary develop feelings for each other and he tracks down Jack, who is in his element. As Jack tells him, "Ninety years ago I was a freak. Now I'm an amateur." The resolution of the plot is final for Jack, but is just a beginning for Herbert and Mary. But Wells is determined to return to his time, just as Mary is reluctant to leave her time. His disallusionment with the future is understandable. In a museum he finds an exhibit about himself with copies of his books he hasn't written yet. "I have to go back," he tells Mary. "I have to destroy this machine. I have all those books to write, whatever they are. Fiction, I hope."

This is a charming movie which is hard to catagorize. Some will call it science fiction. I think it's basically a romantic suspense film, which has a lot of humor built in. The future turns out not to be utopia, and Wells' attempt to deal with things is touching and ironic.

Malcom McDowell, an actor I have a lot of respect for, turns in a first-class performance as the shy, earnest and brave Wells. Mary Steenburgen just about matches him as Amy, a woman who also is shy but who values independence and is not about to simply settle for the title "spouse."

This movie works on a lot of levels. You might not fall in love with it, but you'd have to be both hard-hearted and humorless not to at least like it.

I thought the DVD transfer is just fine.
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on May 17, 2005
I saw this movie back in 1979 when I was 19 and it left an impression on me. Malcolm McDowell gives a fine performance as the writer H.G. Wells in a role that could not be further removed from 'A Clockwork Orange". He is strongly supported by the gorgeous Mary Steenbergen who I fell in love with during the movie and David Warner who plays Jack The Ripper gives a fine menacing performance too. This was the original "fish out of water" movie that became so prevalent in recent years.This movie has aged well since 1979 and I regurlarly hire it from my Video Store to recapture my wild, recklesss youth.Ah Nostalgia. How sweet it is!!!
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on July 7, 2003
I remember really liking this slight romance when I first saw it, ages ago, in movie theatres. The story of a fictionalized H.G. Wells following Jack the Ripper into the future (1970s San Francisco to be exact), incidentally falling in love with a modern woman while attempting to recapture the villain, holds up acceptably but shows its age.
Mary Steenbergen's plays the freethinking bank clerk for whom Wells falls. She overplays the part and her accent seems to have been imposed upon her in an effort to make her seem as different as possible from the British Malcolm McDowell (Wells). The accent itself wanders up and down the East Coast, at various points landing in Boston, New York, and several locaitons in the South.
The screenplay also lacks subtlety and may seem campy to modern viewers. David Warner as the Ripper--a truly fine villain--is made to say things like "Ninety years ago I was a freak. Today I'm an amateur!" while the angelic Wells intones "Every age is the same. It's only love that makes any of them bearable." The music is high melodrama (shades of "Vertigo"'s soundtrack).
But for me it was like a trip back in time--to the 1970s, when I was more readily charmed by them. I admit it--I had that silly haircut, I wore those odd clothes, I liked the movie then...and I still like it now.
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on August 22, 2009
Warner issued this way back in 2002 with a better cover and in the old 'snapper' case but what was excellent was that that edition was in the original 2.35:1 ratio as opposed to this 1.77 to 1 ratio. The picture quality of the older edition is better and as intended to be views by Nicholas Meyer, the director. One can still pick up the older edition here at Amazon but not for long...Time After Time
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VINE VOICEon April 16, 2011
I have always loved this movie mainly for the love story and the strong performances of the protagonists Malcolm McDowel and Mary Steenbergen. David Warner is terrific too. It made a name for Nicholas Meyer who went on to direct the second Star Trek movie and save the franchise from oblivion. What is nice about this movie is the humanity and compassion for the characters. Wonderful performances and I can see how the two stars fell in love, at least for awhile.
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