The Time Machine is a 2002 science fiction film adapted from the 1895 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, and the 1960 film screenplay by David Duncan. It was executive-produced by Arnold Leibovit and directed by Simon Wells, who is the great-grandson of the original author, and stars Guy Pearce, Jeremy Irons, Orlando Jones, Samantha Mumba, Mark Addy, Sienna Guillory, and Phyllida Law with a cameo by Alan Young, who also appeared in the 1960 film adaptation.
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 back story and several new characters, such as an intelligent hologram played by Orlando Jones and a leader of the Morlocks played by Jeremy Irons.
Director 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.
In 2009, work is underway on a sequel to The Time Machine (2002) titled The Time Machine Returns (or Time Machine II). It is being produced by Arnold Leibovit.
Alexander Hartdegen (Pearce) is a young scientist who teaches at Columbia University in New York City in 1899. When Alexander meets with his sweetheart Emma (Guillory) in a park, a robber holds them at gunpoint and kills Emma. Alexander then devotes himself to building a time machine. When the machine is completed four years later, he travels back to 1899 and intercepts Emma before her meeting with his younger counterpart. This prevents her from being killed in the park, but now she is killed by a horse and carriage in the street.
Seeing that one means of Emma’s death has been replaced by another, Alexander goes to the year 2030 to find out whether her life can be saved. At the New York Public Library, he talks with Vox 114 (Jones), a holographic AI librarian. Vox has no information on time travel, which is still considered impossible. Alexander continues into the future, but the time machine is stopped in 2037 by detonations on the Moon. Alexander restarts the machine as the city is destroyed by lunar shock waves, but is knocked unconscious and travels to 802,701 A.D. before waking up.
At this point in time, human civilization has reverted to a primitive lifestyle. The survivors, who call themselves “Eloi”, live on the sides of cliffs on what resembles Manhattan. Alexander stops the time machine and is nursed back to health by a woman named Mara (Samantha Mumba), one of the few Eloi who speak English. Alexander befriends Mara and her young brother Kalen (Mumba).
One day, the Eloi are attacked and Mara is dragged underground by Morlocks—monstrous ape-like predators that hunt the Eloi for food. In order to rescue her, Kalen leads Alexander to Vox 114, which is still functioning. Vox explains that humanity has evolved over the centuries into two separate sub-species, the Eloi and the Morlocks.
With information from Vox 114, Alexander finds the underground realm of the Morlocks, but he is captured and thrown into an area where Mara sits inside a cage. There he meets an intelligent, humanoid Über-Morlock (Jeremy Irons), who explains that Über-Morlocks are the evolutionary descendants of the humans who stayed underground after the Moon broke apart, while the Eloi are evolved from those who remained on the surface. Über-Morlocks are a caste of telepaths who rule the hunters that Alexander encountered earlier.
The Über-Morlock explains to Alexander that he cannot alter Emma’s fate because her death was what drove him to build the time machine in the first place. Using the machine without her death occurring would be inconsistent with his desire to build it.
Meanwhile, the Morlocks have brought the time machine underground. With his question answered, Alexander gets into the machine to return home, but he suddenly pulls the Über-Morlock into the machine’s sphere of influence, which carries them into the future as they fight. The Über-Morlock dies by rapidly aging when Alexander pushes him outside of the time machine’s sphere. Alexander then slows the machine in the year 635,427,810 AD, revealing a harsh, rust-colored sky over a desolate wasteland.
Finally accepting that he cannot save Emma, Alexander travels back to rescue Mara. After freeing her, he starts the time machine and jams its gears, creating a violent distortion in time. Alexander and Mara escape to the surface as a huge explosion destroys the Morlocks’ underground dwelling. With the time machine destroyed, Alexander begins a new life with Mara and the Eloi. The closing scene is shown side by side with a sequence in the year 1903, where Alexander’s friend and colleague David Philby (Addy) expresses his hope that Alexander has found somewhere he can be happy.