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'Time Machine' Makes Minutes Pass Slowly

July 25, 2002|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Though it clocks in at under 90 minutes, DreamWorks' big-budget, CGI-driven adaptation of H.G. Wells' cautionary fable "The Time Machine" ticks off as slowly as a three-hour dirge. And the DVD ($20) of the action-thriller staring Guy Pearce doesn't do much better.

The digital edition, directed by the author's great-grandson, Simon Wells, includes a wide-screen transfer of the film and a behind-the-scene featurette on the design and creation of the futuristic Morlocks, including an interview with visual-effects artist Stan Winston. There is also an animated sequence featuring Simon Wells' original storyboards and insightful commentary from producer David Valdes, production designer Oliver Scholl and visual-effects supervisor James E. Price.

*

New Line's digital edition of "John Q" ($27), which stars Denzel Washington, Kimberly Elise, James Woods, Anne Heche and Robert Duvall, is an overheated drama that almost literally wears its heart on its sleeve.

Washington plays a devoted family man who, in desperation, takes an emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant surgery.

But the DVD includes a terrific and often terrifying documentary "Fighting for Care," which examines organ transplants and insurance coverage difficulties the patients face. Interviews with actual organ-transplant patients as well as the medical staff at UCLA Medical Center, which operates one of the country's largest transplant programs, are among its highlights.

The disc also includes a standard behind-the-scenes documentary, a script-to-screen function on the DVD-ROM, and passable commentary from director Nick Cassavetes--whose young daughter has congenital heart problems--screenwriter James Kearns, production Mark Burge, director of photography Rogier Stoffers and actress Elise.

*

"Kung Pow: Enter The Fist" misfires. Badly.

Steve Oedekerk stars in, wrote and directed this slapstick farce that takes a Hong Kong martial arts flick from 1976 and adds new footage and dialogue.

Most of the jokes fall flat on their face--Woody Allen did it far better more than 30 years ago with "What's Up, Tiger Lily?"

The digital edition (Fox, $27) improves on the film, including a "making of" featurette showing how special effects enabled Oedekerk to step into the action of the old Hong Kong movie, a look at the visual effects, and a photo gallery.

One alternate dialogue track features the original Chinese dialogue from the film; the second is a "books-on-tape" version that features a British actor reading the inane dialogue in a very tony accent. In Oedekerk's commentary, he talks about the 100 vintage martial arts movies he viewed until he found the right one to spoof.

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