Sunday, 29 March 2015

IMDb Bottom 100 Review – Number 56 Tangents aka Time Chasers

Confession time: I actually enjoyed this movie. I don’t even care to make excuses or play it off as a fluke. This movie had negative aspects, but overall it was surprisingly clear and coherent, it raised some legitimate questions, and to its credit, it did not try to spoon feed them to us in a haphazard willy nilly way but rather left them open ended. I’m not sure if I am a broken man, or if these movies are really secretly misunderstood? I’m starting to question reality a lot. But this movie was not bad, and I do not feel bad for enjoying it. I promise I’ll slip in some snark in this review, but if you’re looking for a shitstorm of sassy comments, this won’t fulfill that dark void in your soul. At this point you might as well join me in taking an interesting glance at…

Nick at his beloved computer. Please notice the sweet homage in the background. Ignore that they chose to honor Back to the Future 3 and not 1 or 2. Still, though...
I won’t go all out, and say that this movie was a masterpiece. Hell it wasn’t even a sweet piece of cinema. What it was, however, was relatively well executed, well written but poorly acted. Not Troll 2 poorly acted, but just kind of dilettante in nature. Like amateur theater. It’s good enough that you’ll forgive, but not so good that you forget what you’re watching. This movie, unlike most of it’s predecessors, and, I can’t but assume, most of the movies following it, had a decent grasp on continuity and a pretty decent flow. I’ll furnish you with some examples later. The movie, as the title would suggest, deals with time travel – a concept that more often than not leads to continuity confusion. Most of the time it’s legit, because by virtue of being a story concerning time travel, continuity is a tricky business. It involves several time lines, and past and future versions of the same person interacting. It also involves colonial wars in the States, surprisingly well executed. Guys, I legitimately don’t think this movie deserves a spot on this list. It’s here, so I’m reviewing it, but I’m questioning my motives!
Goddam bicycle chase scene. Aww yiss!
In a nutshell, this movie is about Nick, a college professor of physics, who invents time travel. He’s built it into a plane as opposed to the car we know and love. A Cessna to be precise. They go into some detail about the actual time travel, but kept it vague enough, that it’s hard for somebody who isn’t physics savvy (such as myself) to really laugh and point a finger. Not that anybody could be expected to explain the mechanics of time travel in as much as, well, you know, it isn’t actually a possible and feasible thing at the time of writing (ultimo March, 2015. Color me embarrassed if somebody announces time travel is a thing tomorrow after I’ve published this review). But it’s basically flying and punching in a date on the computer system, then a countdown and some animation and you’re in the future or past. Nick wants to sell this concept to a corporation whose advertisement he sees in the television. The company is called GenCorp. Sounds like a generic brand if I ever heard one. It isn’t completely clear what GenCorp does, but it’s unimportant. He also lures out a reporter to witness it, by telling her his grandmother is going to skydive for the first time. A representative from GenCorp shows up, and the lady reporter too (who turns out to be somebody Nick went to high school with). He presents the idea of time travel and is, not surprisingly, met with skepticism across the board. However, he takes both of them out for coffee 50 years into the future. Starbucks hadn’t settled by then, so it’s just the generic shit we plebeians drink.
First date in the 50s? Nick's got game!
So of course both the reporter and the GenCorp dude are sold on the idea of time travel. The GenCorp fella takes it to his boss, J.K. who is also the guy in the ads Nick saw. Now, here is where it kind of gets interesting. Lisa, the reporter, thinks Nick is a sellout for allowing GenCorp to buy his invention off just like that. Nick is probably just in it for the Benjamins at this point. J.K. is about this invention, and a contract is drafted up. Of course GenCorp sells the whole thing as a government contract, looking to make weapons of it, and the usual shebang ensues. Nick reneges on his deal and things turn uggo. It is at this point, that a sort of chase through time happens, as Nick and Lisa hustles to prevent himself from ever making the deal in the first place, while J.K. rushes after them to prevent them from preventing it. Classic time travel shenanigans. J. K. eventually catches up with them, and abducts them to 1777, where he intends to drop leave them, marooned in time. This idea, obviously, has a real chance of fucking up everything in history, so J.K. correctly reasons that it’s best to just kill them. I won’t ruin the ending for you this time, legitimately, because it carries merit. Not excitement per se, but the way they dealt with the ending amused me.
JayKay (no relation) has an office that seems like it's in the middle of a lobby. That's art deco for ya.
So what’s bad about this movie? Let’s start out with that, because I’m going to have to go over positives in a moment, and I want to juxtapose them to the negative points so you know this was an OK movie but not like a great watch. Like I mentioned, the acting was subpar. J.K. was played by Georg Woodard who has the honor of being the only actor in this movie, with his picture on his IMDb profile and more than 2-3 movies to his name. He seems to be a somewhat established actor, and he did the best job, by far. He came off not quite as the evil CEO the synopsis makes him out to be, but he was definitely the adversary. Subdued, which I kind of liked. Oh this were supposed to be the negative part? Oh right. Well the acting was meh. There were a few things that made me go “hmm?” such as some of the time travel back and forth. Like I believe Nick and Lisa travelled back in time, and then had the time machine destroyed. But of course they could fix that whole issue with another time jump from the future. Anyway, they appear back in the present again like everything is fine. So whatever, right. It’s time travel. It can’t make perfect sense. I think this pretty much concludes the negatives. Sure some other aspects were a little iffy, but in context and mid-nineties low budget movie making considered, they actually did pretty well.
Nick convinces the colonial troops that J.K. is a british spy. Nobody seems to question Nick and Lisa's clothes or modern day English. Just like the real world. 
Now I’m not an expert and I’m not a movie maker by any stretch of the imagination. I’m hardly even a connoisseur. I’m just a moron who makes sarcastic comments on the internet. However, I have seen my share of both excellent and shitty movies (this blog, if nothing else, will attest to the truth in 50% of that statement) and as such I have a somewhat decent grasp on crappy special effects and sequences in said movies. This flick had a fucking bicycle chase. I mean, how often do you see that? And what’s more, it wasn’t even that shitty. I wasn’t at the edge of my seat or anything, but I couldn’t help by think the following think: ‘oh that’s pretty cool’. Yes, those words zoomed through my boyish mind. Later on, a horse chasing an airplane. Later on again, a guy on the wing of an airplane in flight. Yes, it was probably not flying and only purported the illusion of flight through sneaky camera placement, but it looked relatively legit. Small detail that struck me too, was how Nick rode his bike to the supermarket for groceries, met Lisa and hitched a ride in her car back – and they had put his bicycle in the trunk. Now I understand you might be thinking “But dude.. who gives a monkey’s patootie?” and normally I’d be inclined to agree. But it’s a weird breath of fresh motherhumping air, when little insignificant things like that is thought of. It signifies, if you’d spare me a minute for my honest opinion, a level of attention that just isn’t standard in these Bottom100 flicks, of which I’ve almost seen 50 now. It pleases me that somebody gave enough of a fuck. The time travel software and the animation happening when time travelling is pretty 90s, but for the time they are relatively low key and subdued, and not extravagant and ridiculous like in say Lawnmower Man 2 where everything was ballbouncingly stupid and pointless.
Nick is too bad ass in this flick. It's one of three movies he did, so it goes to show he is taking it to the next level here. 
Like I’ve touched upon, continuity is super tricky when making time travel movies. Nick goes back and forth, and encounters himself, which doesn’t create a rip in the time continuum like other people would have us believe. He talks to himself, and there is a somewhat amusing scene, where he talks with himself, with the camera intercutting between the front and the back of the two Nicks. Nick has, what we called Hockey Hair around my parts. Long in the neck, shorter on top. Popularly referred to as a mullet. The Nick we see from the back has a significantly different haircut. Small detail where they dropped the ball, but I had to laugh it off. Vintage. Overall they managed to keep timelines pretty straight, even with back and forth and several characters mixing in and out of them. Lisa dies in one timeline, and her alternate self finds out about it. Facing your own mortality much? Yes, Lisa certainly does.

50 years into the future, and shit looks like the boring part of Anytown, USA. Not much changes I guess.
Ok so this isn’t a critical look at Einstein and the theory of everything. It’s not scientific or even that elaborate. But I like it because it’s realistic. Yes, it’s fucking realistic in the context it operates within, like it’s realistic for Legolas to jump onto a horse running toward him, because he’s an Elf and it’s fucking fiction. This movie doesn’t require me to suspend my disbelief beyond what is needed to deal with the concept of time travel. The acting lacks a bit, but the look at both a dystopian and utopian future, dealing with corporate greed AND the flipside of that (technological advances but at a price), mortality, meeting your future/past self as well as a brief glimpse of the distant past makes this movie worth a watch. Yes, you are reading between the lines correctly. I am official recommending giving this movie a watch. It’s mildly entertaining and mildly interesting. In a world where flash trumps substance most of the time, it’s kind of fun to know substance, even if it’s but a small slice of it, still has a voice. It’s a first for us here at Totally Whatevs, and trust me, we are as shocked as you are. If you close this browser window thinking your entire existence has been based on a lie, well, then, I won’t blame you. I’ll bid you adieu with the hope you’ll return some day knowing things will probably go back to normal next week. If you are only momentarily stunned by this development, but won’t abandon us without the majority vote of the Suspreme Court backing you, then I’m damn proud of you. Damn proud. 
"Fuck you guys, I'm out. This ain't even hilarious anymore"

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