How long will it take you to remember 2002's The Time Machine?

By: Julie Medina
Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

The Time Machine is a 2002 American science fiction film, loosely adapted from the 1895 novel. It wrestles with the question, if you could go back in time to save someone, why wouldn't history let you? Take a wondrous trip back through time with this quiz.

The 2002 sci-fi movie is loosely adapted from the 1895 novel of the same name. Who wrote the novel?

The original novel, entitled The Time Machine, was written by H.G. Wells. There was also a 1960 screenplay by David Duncan. What is interesting to note is that this 2002 movie was directed by Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.

Where is the 2002 film set?

The 2002 film is set in New York City, instead of London, and contains new story elements not present in the original novel, including a romantic backstory, a new scenario about how civilization was destroyed, and several new characters.

How was civilization destroyed in this movie?

The Vacation of the Future is on the moon when Alexander visits New York in 2037. Explosives and drilling into the moon are needed to create the vacation destination. However, it causes the accidental destruction of the moon and renders the Earth virtually uninhabitable.

What is the name of the inventor of the Time Machine?

Dr. Alexander Hartdegen is an Associate Professor of Applied Mechanics & Engineering at Columbia University, in New York City, in the year 1899. He is a young inventor, fascinated by time pieces. Alexander Hartdegen is portrayed by Guy Pearce, an Australian actor and musician. He is well known for his roles in L.A. Confidential, Memento, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Road, The King's Speech, Prometheus, and Iron Man 3. He has won an Emmy Award and received nominations for Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and AACTA Awards.

Who says this to Alexander? “A professor from Columbia University should not be corresponding with a crazy German bookkeeper.”

Philby is talking about Alexander’s correspondence with Albert Einstein. Alexander responds with, “He's a patent clerk, not a bookkeeper, and I think Mister Einstein needs all the support I can give him.” The film is set in 1899; however, Einstein was still in school and did not become a patent clerk until 1902.

What is the name of Alexander’s fiancée?

Emma is Alexander’s fiancée. They meet at the ice skating rink where Alexander proposes. A mugger, who has been lurking in the woods, holds up the couple at gunpoint. Emma is portrayed by Sienna Guillory, an English actress and former model. She is known for starring in Helen of Troy and as an elf princess in Eragon, Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

What type of engagement ring does Alexander give Emma?

Sapphire is the birthstone of people born in September. It is also the type of engagement ring that Alexander gives Emma, who was born in September. She loves the unexpected and loves Alexander for his clever thinking. Did you know that each gemstone has a healing power, according to folklore and stories throughout history? The Sapphire is the gemstone of creative expression and inner peace and meditation. The Sapphire also aids in personal expression and the alleviation of pain.

How does the robbery end?

After the mugger takes Alexander’s wallet, watch, and gloves, there is a struggle since Emma doesn’t want to give up her engagement ring. During the struggle, the gun goes off, killing Emma. Max Baker portrays the mugger. Baker is an actor and writer, known for starring in Constantine, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and The Island.

Alexander goes into a deep depression for four years. What does he do during those four years?

After a mugger kills his fiancée, Emma, Alexander devotes himself to building a time machine that will allow him to travel back in time and save her. Did you know that the time machine itself was the biggest and most expensive prop ever to be built for a movie at the time? Remember, it had to look functional, so they had to build a working prop. Director Simon Wells' idea for the machine to incorporate Fresnel lenses came from the fact that the Time Traveler in the book is mentioned as a professor of physical optics.

What does Alexander do once he completes the time machine?

When Alexander completes the machine, he sets the time counter to the night of Emma’s death four years earlier. He hopes that by traveling back to 1899 he can prevent her murder, only to see her killed by a horseless carriage. There is a small error in historical accuracy when it comes to horseless carriages. The motor-carriage that is seen outside the skating rink and later on the street by the flower shop has current bicycle type tires with metal rims and spokes, while most vehicle tires of the time had wooden rims and spokes, lined with rubber.

Why does Alexander think he will not be able to save Emma?

Alexander soon comes to realize that any attempt to save Emma will invariably result in her death through other circumstances. Distraught, Alexander travels forward in time to discover if, by then, science has been able to solve his question of how to change the past, thus determining whether Emma's life can be saved. His time machine is working correctly, but it is not giving him the ability to save Emma.

The time machine stops in the future, in 2030. Is Alexander able to get an answer in that year about how to change the past?

At the New York Public Library, a holographic librarian called Vox 114 insists that time travel is impossible. He mentions three real science-fiction writers to read to learn more about time travel: Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and H.G. Wells. Asimov wrote "The End of the Eternity" in 1955, about time travel and the risks of making changes to the past. Ellison wrote numerous science fiction scripts (including time travel) for TV series like The Outer Limits (1963) and The Twilight Zone (1959). Wells wrote "The Time Machine" in 1894, the book upon which this movie is based.

Alexander jumps ahead another seven years to see if science has learned of time travel and he can ask questions. What does he find in 2037?

Alexander doesn’t find answers; instead, he finds that the accidental destruction of the moon by space colonists has made the world uninhabitable. Alexander is caught by security who wonder why he hasn’t evacuated yet. He jumps back into his time machine to avoid being hit by falling debris or being taken away by security. Did you know that the film was originally scheduled for release in December 2001? It was bumped to March 2002 because of a scene involving a meteor shower crippling New York. The filmmakers were concerned the scene would stir memories of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Alexander, knocked out by debris, falls against the time machine controls and ends up where?

Alexander is knocked unconscious by the debris and travels to the year 802,701, at which point he regains consciousness and stops the machine. However, while he is unconscious the viewer sees what happens to mankind due to the moon breaking apart. The effects team used an erosion algorithm to digitally simulate the Earth's landscape changing through the centuries.

Alexander is nursed back to health by Mara. Who is Mara?

By the year 802,701, the human race has reverted to a primitive lifestyle. Some survivors, called Eloi, live on the sides of cliffs of what was once Manhattan. Alexander is nursed back to health by Mara, one of the few Eloi who speaks English. Mara is played by Samantha Mumba, an Irish singer and actress. She shot to fame in 2000 with the release of her debut single, "Gotta Tell You." Then she starred in numerous films, including The Time Machine and a number of Irish independent films.

What is the name of Mara’s younger brother?

Kalen finds the stories that the stranger tells exhilarating. Kalen is played by Peter Mumba, who is Mara’s (Samantha Mumba’s) sister in real life. Like his sister, he sings and acts. He is featured on the song The Boy, released on Samantha’s first album, Gotta Tell You. At age 13, he attempted a musical career of his own, with his single, Lil' Big Man. Despite only peaking at number 42 on the UK Singles Chart, it was featured on the compilation album, Now That's What I Call Music! After appearing in a 1995 episode of The Governor, Mumba was cast in The Time Machine. In 2009, he had a minor role in the Irish film, 3 Crosses.

Both Alexander and Kalen have similar dreams of what?

They both dream of a frightening, jagged-toothed face. Mara tells him that everyone in the village has the same dream - and to not speak of it. At this point, Kalan and Alexander are unaware that a humanoid telepath is controlling their dreams. While Alexander is learning about the Eloi people, he is still injured. In real life, Guy Pearce broke a rib during the filming when he tackled the Morlock from the side. Guy Pearce did most of his own stunts and occasionally got frustrated when he wasn't allowed to do a few.

What is the name of those who live below ground?

Morlocks attack the Eloi and hunt them for food. Mara is dragged underground by these ape-like creatures. The Morlocks were depicted using actors in costumes wearing animatronic masks. For scenes in which they run on all fours faster than humanly possible, Industrial Light & Magic created CGI versions of the creatures.

How do the Morlocks fight?

Alexander fights the Morlocks by hitting them with bamboo poles and Kalen uses fire to scare off the Morlock who is attacking Alexander. However, the rest of the Elois do not fight against the Morlocks, who use darts with a black, sticky substance on them, possibly a tranquilizing gel. They also disappear with their captives into the sand sinkholes. Some critics praised the special effects, declaring the film visually impressive and colorful.

Why don’t the Elois fight back?

The Morlocks first take the Elois who fight back. This strategy ensures it will be easier to take whoever they want the next time, without any Morlock casualties. Did you notice that when Alexander first meets the head Morlock and gets strangled by him, you can easily see Jeremy Irons' fake fingernail coming loose and revealing his real one? Also during the fight scene, in several different places you can see where the white makeup on Jeremy Irons' face ends and his un-makeupped face begins, usually around or behind the ears.

In order to rescue Mara, where does Kalen lead Alexander to get answers?

In order to rescue Mara, Kalen and Alexander need answers, such as, where do the Morlocks live, how do they get there, and anything else that can give them an advantage. Kalen leads Alexander to Vox 114, which is still functioning after 800,000 years and can tell them how to find the Morlocks. Orlando Jones plays Vox 114, a holographic artificial intelligence librarian at the New York Public Library in the future. Orlando Jones is an American comedian and film and television actor. He is notable for being one of the original cast members of the sketch comedy series MADtv and for his role as the 7 Up spokesman from 1999 to 2002.

When Alexander enters the Morlocks' underground lair, he is almost immediately captured. Who does he discover has also been captured?

Alexander enters their underground lair through an opening that resembles the face in his nightmare. He is almost immediately captured and thrown into an area where Mara sits in a cage. Did you know the sound of the Morlocks' roar is actually that of a bull?

Who else does Alexander meet while trying to rescue Mara?

Alexander meets the Über-Morlock, the leader of the Morlocks, a member of the telepathic ruling caste of the Morlock world. The intelligent humanoid explains that Morlocks are the evolutionary descendants of the humans who went underground after the moon broke apart, while the Eloi are evolved from those who remained on the surface. Jeremy Irons, who plays the Über-Morlock, is one of the few actors who won the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Academy Award (for film), an Emmy Award (for television), and a Tony Award (for theater).

Who says this? “You're a man haunted by those two most terrible words: What if?”

Alexander, finally getting the answers for which he traveled in time to receive, insults the Morlock about how humanity should not have led to a species that eats the Elois. Here is the full quote - Morlock: “Who are you to question 800,000 years... of evolution?” Alexander: “This is, this is a perversion of every natural law.” Morlock: “And what is time travel but your pathetic attempt to try to control the world around you? Your futile effort to have a question answered? You think I don't know you, Alexander? I can look inside your memories, your nightmares, your dreams. You're a man haunted by those two most terrible words: What if?”

Who says this? “We all have our time machines, don't we? Those that take us back are memories... And those that carry us forward, are dreams.”

Über-Morlock says this to Alexander as he explains the temporal paradox and his powers of telepathy. When Alexander gets strangled by him, you can easily see Jeremy Irons' fake fingernails coming loose and revealing his real ones. Whoops!

What is the question Alexander finally gets answered?

The Morlock explains that Alexander cannot alter Emma's fate (change the past) because her death is what drove him to build the time machine in the first place: saving her would create a temporal paradox. He then reveals that the Morlocks have brought the time machine underground, and tells Alexander to get into it and return home. Jeremy Irons, The Über-Morlock, previously played H.G. Wells in The Timekeeper.

When Alexander gets into the time machine, who else does he pull in with him?

Alexander gets into the machine but also pulls the Morlock in with him, carrying them into the future as they fight. The Morlock dies by rapidly aging when Alexander pushes him outside of the machine's temporal bubble. For some of the lighting effects used for the digital time bubble around the time machine, ILM developed an extended-range color format, which they named rgbe (red, green, blue and an exponent channel).

What scary vision does he see from the time machine when he stops in the year 635,427,810?

Alexander recovers from the fight and stops millions of years in the future, in the year 635,427,810, revealing a harsh, rust-colored sky over a wasteland of Morlock caves. It means the Morlocks are thriving and still hunting and eating Elois. Many of the time-traveling scenes were entirely computer generated, including a 33-second shot in the workshop where the time machine is located. The camera pulls out, traveling through New York City and then into space, past the ISS, and ending with a space plane landing on the moon to reveal earth's future lunar colonies.

Now that Alexander has escaped the Über-Morlock, what does he decide to do?

Finally accepting that he cannot save Emma, Alexander travels back to rescue Mara. You might have noticed that when Alexander is fighting with the Über-Morlock on the time machine, you can easily see, in the close-up choking shots, that Jeremy Irons is wearing what look to be white surgical gloves. During this fight, the blood on Alexander's face comes and goes.

How do Alexander and Mara escape?

After freeing Mara, he starts the time machine and jams its gears, creating a violent distortion in time. Though pursued by the Morlocks, Alexander and Mara escape to the surface as the time distortion explodes, killing the Morlocks and destroying their caves, along with the time machine. There is a bit of scientific error in the movie. In the Eloi's time, the ruins of the library still have clearly visible, sharply incised inscriptions. Such carvings erode significantly after several hundred, or at most, several thousand years. That means after 800,000 years they should have been illegible, due to erosion from rain or wind, or (if they had been buried) chemical reactions in the soil.

How is Vox 114 put to use in the ending scenes?

Vox 114 teaches the Eloi children. He will help keep English alive and teach the children all subjects, so the cumulative knowledge of mankind won’t be lost. The book that Vox recites to the Eloi children at the end of the movie is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, written by Mark Twain and originally published in 1876.

At the end of the movie, what does Philby do as a tribute to Alexander?

At the end of the movie, Philby and housekeeper Mrs. Watchit are in the laboratory, discussing Alexander’s absence. Philby offers Mrs. Watchit a job at his house. Philby leaves and we see through the window that he tosses away his bowler hat. This is in reference to an earlier discussion they had, concerning how everyone looks and thinks the same. Mark Addy portrayed David Philby, Alexander's good friend and conservative colleague. Mark Addy is an English actor, known for starring as Detective Constable Gary Boyle in The Thin Blue Line, Dave in The Full Monty, Bill Miller in Still Standing, and, most famously, King Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones.

What did the critics think of the film?

The film had mixed reviews, but mostly negative. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie an aggregate rating of 29%, based on 148 reviews. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who was somewhat positive about the film, writes that it lost some of the simplicity and charm of the 1960 George Pal film by adding characters such as Jeremy Irons' Über-Morlock. He praised actor Guy Pearce's "more eccentric" time traveler and his transition from an awkward intellectual to a man of action.

What did the fans think of the film?

The audience gave it a higher rating than the critics on Rotten Tomato, a 37% instead of a 29%. However, it was still negative. The good news was that the film was profitable. On a budget of $80 million, it earned almost $123.27 million at the box office. It’s interesting to note that Gore Verbinski was brought in to take over the last 18 days of shooting, as Simon Wells was suffering from "extreme exhaustion." Wells returned for post-production.

What did the soundtrack of Time Machine win?

The full score was written by Klaus Badelt, with the recognizable theme being the track, I Don't Belong Here. This track was later used in the 2008 Discovery Channel mini-series, When We Left Earth. However, when it first came out in 2002, The Time Machine soundtrack won the World Soundtrack Award for Discovery of the Year.

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