When watching a sci-fi movie, the most common theme is obviously some sort of alien invasion/visit to an alien planet. I think the second most common theme tends to involve some sort of time travel. Time travel movies are always interesting because you can either see the director’s or writer’s vision of a future, or their imagining of the past. Now I have never seen this movie before I bought it and the only reason I own it was because it was part of a 4-movie DVD set that I had bought. So let’s see how good of a movie I have on my hands as I watch The Time Travelers.
The plot: In a university lab, Dr. Erik von Steiner, Dr. Steve Connors, and their assistant Carol White, are working on their experimental time viewing device. As the test the device, Danny McKee, a worker for the local power plant stops by and tells Carol that he was chewed out for running the extra power cables to their lab and he is supposed to cut the power to the lab, but agrees to wait a while so they can finish their test. After testing the device on looking into the past, they decide to look into the future, and Steve decides to increase the power to it’s maximum settings, despite the protests of Erik and Carol. The dial for the machine ends up reaching 100,000 years into the future and as they dial it back, Carol notices some strange shadows quickly come and go. When the computers overload and fuse some of the circuits, the portal ends up stopped at the year 2071 and they see the university has become a barren wasteland. As Erik, Steve, and Carol work on repairing the circuits, Danny notices the screen is actually a doorway and brings it to their attention. Danny decides to go through and investigate the landscape and Erik heads after him to bring him back, telling Steve and Carol to man the controls and try to keep the portal stable. As they are working, Steve and Carol notice some strange, mutated humanoid figures moving about the screen and heading in the direction Erik and Danny went. Steve goes through the portal to try and find them and bring them back and when two of the strange figures notice the portal and head towards it, Carol uses a fire extinguisher to fend them off. Suddenly the power dies off in the building and Carol goes through the portal to alert the others that the portal is collapsing. Steve and Erik hear her and head back but just as they get there, the portal collapses. Seeing more of the mutated beings coming towards them, the three scientists run off and meet up with Danny, then start throwing rocks at the mutants until the back off. Danny takes them to a cave he discovered, where they prepare to fend off the humans again, and as they get ready, they find the mutants are unable to enter the cave and quickly run off. Going to see what happened, they discover that the opening has been sealed off by an electric barrier just as they are approached by a woman named Gadra and several androids. Gadra says not to worry and invites them into their city for safety and, seeing little choice, Erik and the others follow her. In the city, Gadra takes them to the city council, where the explain their situation to the city’s leader, Dr. Varno. Varno explains that they are in the year 2071 and the planet is dying due to nuclear war. Most of humanity was destroyed or mutated to the creatures they saw outside. The last remaining humans are in the city but know they won’t be able to survive so they plan to travel to another planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. As Varno shows them the rocket on a view screen, an explosion occurs in a fuel station and one android is damaged while a second is damaged. Varno takes them to the chamber where androids are built, explaining how the voyage to the new planet is so long, that the only way they will make it is to travel in suspended animation. He also explains that the mutants are constantly attacking and trying to find ways into the caves, so the androids also serve as their protections. As they leave, Danny stays behind to talk to Reena, one of the workers, who is attracted to him and asks him to meet her in her cubicle after her shift ends. Returning to the council room, Varno says that he will offer what ever help and supplies they need to build a new time viewing device so they can get back but warns them that they only have a month to do so, as that is when the rocket will blast off. Carol says they have to get back and warn humanity to try and stop the war but Councilman Willard, a pessimistic member of the council, says that they never make it back as the war obviously happened. Erik agrees that they can’t change the past and Varno suggests that they go with them on the rocket, which Erik and the others accept, but after they leave, Willard asks for a report on their supplies and what would happen if additional passengers where on the rocket. Erik joins Varno, who shows him the viewing room where they receive all of the data for the planet they hope to arrive on. Meanwhile, Danny heads to Reena’s room and watches as she plays a strange musical panel, while Steve and Carol follow Gadra, who works to explain the rocket and their flight plan. As she is explaining the engines, they will be using, she asks Willard to help but he refuses, being rude towards what he perceives as unwanted additions. Suddenly, an alarm sounds and Willard tells Steve to join him, saying they might need his help, while Carol is told to go to the council chamber for her safety. Carol ends up getting lost and discovers a deviant human in a storage chamber. She attempts to talk to the deviant and learns that he can understand her but can’t speak. Willard shows up and wants to shoot it but she refuses to let him, as Steve, Erik, and Varno arrive. Varno tries to explain the situation but they refuse to let them kill it and Varno agrees to let it be sent outside the barrier. Later, as Varno shows them their food supply/additional oxygen makers, Willard asks to speak with him privately and the two walk off. Later, Erik, Steve, Carol, and Danny are summoned to the chamber and given the bad news; that there is not room on the rocket for them to travel with the survivors and Willard refuses to delay the rocket’s launch to accommodate them as Steve argues that he is condemning them to their deaths. Realizing their only chance of survival is to rebuild their time viewing device, Varno offers whatever help he can, even showing them some new ways to improve the device. As the launch date gets closer, the mutants attack the city, overpowering many of the robots and humans in the city. Steve and Danny go out to rescue Carol and Reena, and bring them back to the lab, where the surviving humans and androids quickly barricade the room. Inside, the survivors watch as an explosion occurs on the launch pad and the rocket attempts to take off but explodes. Realizing their only chance is the portal, Erik activates it just as the mutants break through the barricade and start attacking them. Many of the survivors, along with Willard, are killed but Erik, Steve, Carol, Danny, Reena, Varno, Garda, and several other humans escape, then destroy the machine before the mutants can come through. As the surviving human stare at the campus grounds, Erik, Steve, Carol, and Danny head back to the lab to turn off the machine there only to discover that their past selves are still there but they are unable to affect anything. Varno and the others arrive and Varno says that they are somehow moving at an accelerated rate, and will soon die. Steve says their only hope is the portal, where the dial is stuck at 100,000 years into the future, and decides to test if the portal is open. Steve heads inside then returns and has the others follow him into the portal, where it is revealed to lead them to a lush landscape where they can rebuild a city for themselves. After they pass through the portal, time resumes on their past selves, with the accelerated people moving through the portal explaining the shadows Carol saw, and it is shown that they have ended up in a repeating loop of events.
This was a pretty decent movie but to be honest, felt a little generic. The acting was ok, with Preston Foster (Erik), Philip Carey (Steve), and John Hoyt (Varno). I also liked Joan Woodbury (Garda) but thought Merry Anders (Carol) and Delores Wells (Reena) parts were too stereotypical, while Steve Franken (Danny) was simple comic relief. The story was pretty good and honestly kind of reminded me a little of H.G. Wells “The Time Machine”, which I am sure was some inspiration for the story. The special effects were admittedly not the best, especially the androids, which had some very rubber-like masks on over the actors heads. It’s a decent time kill of a movie but there are some better stories out there to watch, or read for that matter.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5