The numerous awesome aspects of the Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1979 scifiromdramedy "Time After Time" hinders deciding where to begin, The audio commentary provides a good starting point both because it reflects the exceptional track record of Archive regarding getting principals of a film into the sound booth decades after a theatrical release and because these extras are an important part of film history. Star Malcolm McDowell and writer/director Nicholas Meyer team up this time to provide the "true Hollywood story" of this classic.
The musings in the commentaries are comparable to Hollywood royalty attending the annual TCM Film Festival; both provide a chance to get insights from the lions' mouths before they pass away. Thinking of Adam Sandler and Robert Downey, Jr. being the TCM headliners is enough to strike dread in the hearts of cinephiles, The practiced preaching this time is having attended the 2017 festival.
Another very special aspect of "Time" is that this tale of scifi writer/social activist H.G. Wells (MCDowell) using his 19th-century time-machine to pursue Jack the Ripper (David Warner) from Victorian England to 1979 San Francisco is part of a scifi renaissance of the era. "Time" can arguably thank the "Star Trek" OS films (Meyer is a writer/director or "II") , "Star Wars," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" for being greenlit.
The cred. of "Time" includes winning three Saturn awards and the USA National Board of Review naming it one of the Top 10 Films of 1979.
It is worth noting as well that the amped up audio and video of Blu-ray particularly enhances the bright on-location San Francisco scenes, the 70slicious special effects when the time machine is being used, and the mood-setting soundtrack. One of the most cool moments is watching the machine travel through a subspace-style dimension accompanied by audio from the eras that is is passing.
Our story begins in Victorian England with Jack the Ripper cutting the night of a lady of the evening short. Meanwhile, Wells is entertaining gentlemen callers when Dr. John Leslie Stevenson literally arrives late to the party. The next few minutes allowing anyone with enough grey matter to solve a "Scooby-Doo" mystery both to figure out that Stevenson is the Ripper and how things are destined to play out does not (ala "Columbo") diminish the joy related to seeing how we get there,
Stevenson soon puts the bragging of Wells regarding his new solar-powered ride to good use by jacking the time machine to escape to 1979 San Francisco, which also is the 1986 destination of the Enterprise crew. This is not to mention that The City by the Bay is the ultimate destination of a "Trek" crew and a "Stargate" team that are lost in space trying to return home.
Social commentary enters the picture in the form of Wells considering his atonement for aiding and abetting Stevenson having the upside of seeing his envisioned Utopia of a world in which love is free, war is no more, and everyone is thriving and happy. Even 1979 audiences know that Wells is in for a rude awakening. One cannot imagine him being able to handle our 2018 existence.
An amusing aspect of the restrained wonder of Wells on encountering the tech. of the late '70s is that it looks primitive 39 years later. There are clunky landlines, huge counter-top microwaves, CRT televisions, and very outdated cars in which cassette players likely are considered luxury items.
McDowell particularly shines as Wells simultaneously tries to curb his enthusiasm regarding the plethora of modern marvels, focuses on not letting his mannerisms betray him, and does his best to properly respond to social cues.
The flip side is that Stevenson considers the '70s his Utopia. Making his point only requires flipping the channels when Wells initially tracks him down. Every network is showing war, contact sports, Yosemite Sam taking a dynamite blast to the face, etc. Similarly, Stevenson showing Wells his true colors makes it clear that the latter is bring an etiquette book to a knife fight.
Wells gets a less rude awakening on meeting liberated middle-management bank employee Amy Catherine Robbins. An interesting aspect of this is that Robbins portrayor Mary Steenburgen marries McDowell in 1980.
A slip of the tongue putting Amy at real risk of a slit of the throat makes things that much more personal for Wells. This leads to the inevitable showdown that concludes with the fate of Stevenson that is clear within 15 minutes of the beginning of "Time."
The marketing genius of this is that "Time" has something for everyone without emphasizing one element so much that it offends anyone.
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