by Joe Sanders
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I was born in 1984; the year a Terminator robot from the future tried to assassinate Sarah Connor; the year before Marty McFly first hit 88 miles per hour; five years before Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the quantum leap accelerator… and vanished. I grew up in a golden age of time-travel stories and have always really enjoyed what these types of stories are capable of. So, when an email from my editor promised an 80s time travel movie homage here with Time Again I of course volunteered to take on the review. Unfortunately, there’s something extremely 21st century about writer/director Ray Karwel’s film debut. We live in a time when anyone with a camera and a dream can make a decent looking movie, and Time Again’s lazy scripting and stock special effects celebrate everything beautiful and tragic about these technologies being available to everyone.
The story centers around two sisters, Marlo and Sam (Angela Rachelle and Tara Smoker), who work as waitresses at a crappy little diner. One day, a crime lord named Mr. Way (Scott F. Evans) visits the diner looking for a set of priceless rare coins and Sam ends up getting shot. Six months later, a distraught Marlo is visited by a mysterious old woman who sends her back in time to save her sister. This of course violates the first rule of time travel: no one can go back along their own timeline to alter their past, because it negates their need to go back in time in the first place and this creates a paradox.
I have to give credit to Time Again for making an honest effort to create a logical (though broken) timeline, and I can almost make the argument that Ray Karwel was successful with this, but not quite. One problem is that every time Marlo goes back in time, she goes to the exact same moment, but never runs into past versions of herself trying to save her sister. This whole idea that the timeline apparently resets each time Marlo goes back makes no sense. This could be a problem with the rules of the world not being successfully established, but to me it felt like the coins manipulating the timelines are not consistent in their abilities. Another example of this is the idea that the coins were created for Julius Cesar to predict the future. The Roman emperor used them to escape three different assassination attempts, and the fact that he was finally killed by assassination is conveniently dismissed as a joke.
Perhaps this is more of an homage to 80’s action movies than any time travel movie. The dialogue is playfully bad; almost giving the impression that the corny one-liners here were meant to satirize the lost art of campy action movie writing. Almost. Some scenes are more ridiculous than others. The first time Mr. Way comes for Marlo (6 months after the shooting at the diner), she is saved by Detective Lym (John T. Woods) and the two characters bicker back and forth like an old married couple; complete with Marlo criticizing Lym’s shooting ability (While he is trying to save her!). All of this just makes Marlo come across as an inexplicably mean-spirited person, and it’s hard to connect with her throughout much of the film.
Each character’s inability to interact with the others in a believable, fluid way really pulls down the integrity of the film. But, on the plus side, we find ourselves left with a pretty great candidate for another cult movie so bad that it can’t help but be admired by those like me who enjoy sitting around their big screen with a group of friends and simply enjoy all the fun campiness that is Time Again
Time Again is currently unavailable in theaters or on DVD as Director Ray Karwel is still shopping around for distributors.
Joe Sanders is a playwright and college instructor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has a Master’s degree in playwriting and a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches Thought and Writing.
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