Some good time-travel films this week, but only some (#SFWApro)

NOSTRADAMUS (2000) is a surprisingly decent film in which Rob Estes investigates a series of murders that appear to be spontaneous combustions. After FBI psychic Joely Fischer joins him on the case, they learn that a 1600s Satanic cult is sending fallen angels to the present to murder key souls, thereby both speeding up the apocalypse and tilting the Antichrist’s favor. And Fischer is a high-priority target … Entertaining, but the title is the equivalent of click-bait online: Although Estes becomes Nostradamus, those prophecies don’t actually affect the film, so what’s the point? “So now we’re looking for a bulletproof vest-wearing killer who spares no expense.”

MV5BMzI2NzcwMTM5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzgzNDMyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_THE TIMESHIFTERS (1999), AKA The Thrill Seekers, rewatches well despite the blandness of Casper Van Dien as the disgraced reporter who discovers time tourists visiting the Great Disasters of History (unlike Timescape, this is purely for kicks, not because of issues with the future being dull) and upsets their applecart by averting catastrophes. The time paradoxes are handled well (allowing for made-up explanations such as the travel agency being shielded from time disruption), but what makes it really interesting is that just as Van Dien is determined to protect his son from the next big disaster, agency security watchdog Theresa Saldana is determined to save her own son by preserving the timeline, which means the catastrophe has to go off on schedule. With Catherine Bell as Van DIen’s sidekick and Martin Sheen as the disgruntled head of the travel agency. All rights to image with current holder. “This was supposed to be the greatest air disaster in U.S. history but thanks to you, nothing—I’m asking for a refund.”

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TIME TRAVEL (2010) is an excellent British time-travel comedy in which an SF nerd is delighted to meet Anna Farris, self-proclaimed time cop, though he doesn’t believe a word of her being sent back to seal up a time rift. Except then the nerd and his buddies go to the bathroom, stumble through the rift and discover—well, all sorts of things. This is a lot of fun, though it really doesn’t do much with the idea the nerd knows all about time-travel films. “You should have slept with her—because she’d have shagged you into the middle of next week!”

Moving on to the lesser films, LANCELOT GUARDIAN OF TIME (1997), has knightly Marc Singer sent across time by Merlin after black magician John Saxon kidnaps pre-Camelot Arthur and flees to the 20th century as part of a plan to bend history to his will. Saxon is unusually jovial compared to his usual hardboiled characters, but neither Singer nor modern-day love interest Claudia Christian add much to this. And unlike Arthur’s Quest, I can’t see the guy playing Arthur as a future king. This is much heavier on the “thee and thou”knightly dialogue than most Arthurian time-travel films, which may reflect that they’re either Connecticut Yankee adaptations or children/teen films.  “Chaos is my hunting ground.”

CHANGE OF LIFE (2010) is a more liberal counterpart to Doonby or Time Changer as a anti-gay preacher learns his lesbian daughter just killed herself, then gets a chance to go back and Do It Right with her. Commendable intentions (the message certainly suits me better than the other two movies), so-so execution. “I thought you were bad at law—but you suck at compassion!”

PANIC TIME (2013) has a woman use time travel to give herself a perfect alibi for murdering her cheating husband (the film is murkily confusing on whether she knew he was already planning to kill her), then finds herself stranded a month in the past alongside a male friend. So how do they cope for 30 days when they can’t risk drawing attention to there being two of each of them around? This has good ideas, not much skill in putting them across and psychedelic time-travel visuals that reminded me of The Drivetime. “It could put a rift in the fabric beyond repair—hey, I’ve seen sci-fi movies.”

TIME AGAIN (2012) has Mysterious Old Woman Gigi Perreau help a waitress travel back in time and avert the equally mysterious disappearance of the waitress’s sister during an armed assault on the diner where they worked. Way too much running time is spent on the mindless action. “You’re forcing me to be the voice of reason and that’s really not a good look for me.”

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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

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