A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
THE TIME MACHINE centers around Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce), an absent-minded professor back around the turn of the last century. He's so caught up in his formulas that he's lost track of time. With a little help from a friend and a devoted housekeeper, he is cleaned up and sent off for an important appointment. He wants to propose to Emma (Sienna Guillory). He races off, finds her ice-skating, and asks her to marry him. She accepts and he is overjoyed. Then tragedy strikes, and she is killed. Alexander becomes a recluse, obsessed with finding a way to go back in time and change the past. He works for years and then invents a time machine. He goes back in time to find Emma, only to learn that the past cannot be changed. So he goes forward in time. 800,000 years in the future, Alexander discovers the Eloi, a race of gentle people with a terrible secret they do not dare to tell him, and he learns to think about challenging the future, instead of the past.
Is it any good?
This is a showy and entertaining story about an idea everyone has dreamed of: having power over time. The movie is based on H.G. Wells' classic science fiction novel, with a passing nod to the 1960 movie version with Rod Taylor. Clocks appear throughout the story, sometimes playing an important role, as when Alexander's watch is stolen and when he uses it at a crucial moment. And the issues of the role of history and learning to move on from great loss are also thoughtfully presented.
The art direction is striking, from the intricate Victorian machinery to the balloon-like homes of the Eloi. Pearce's performance seems overwhelmed by all that is going on around him, but Orlando Jones is delightful as a virtual repository of all human knowledge, pop singer Samantha Mumba has a strong, sweet presence as the Eloi teacher who befriends Alexander, and Jeremy Irons is shiver-inducingly evil as the creature who prizes his own survival above everything. The director of the movie, Simon Wells, has two special qualifications. He is an expert at animation, which helped with the special effects. And he is the great-grandson of the author of the book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about where they would go if they had a time machine. Would you travel to the past or the future? What would they change if they could? Characters in this story make choices about what to accept and what to fight ? choices that turn out to be wrong. How do you decide? How do you decide what problems to talk about, and what to ignore?
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.