The Daily Ping

This Ping redesign took 7 years and cost $58 million in taxpayer dollars.

November 14th, 2009

The Problems with The Time Machine

I’m a sucker for time travel movies and stories. This is why I love Back to the Future and Lost, amongst other reasons. So I’m apt to scrutinize these things from a non-scientific standpoint. Last weekend I found myself watching The Time Machine, the 2002 Guy Pierce-led remake of the 1960 film and, of course, the 1895 H.G. Wells novel. It was just interesting enough for me to watch it but, really, wasn’t that great. Er, uh, spoiler alert.

This version of the story is in New York instead of London (USA, USA, etc.) and is driven by a romantic subplot (yawn.) But there were two key problems I saw in the story that just took me out of it altogether.

When the time traveler gets to the year 802,701 (as he does in the book), he’s greeted by a very different New York region as you can imagine. He finds a hunter-gatherer society, the Eloi, is now ruling the surface of the planet. Naturally he speaks English, so this causes a problem when he meets these new folks. Until! One of them steps forward and magically speaks English! The time traveler is stunned. I’m stunned. Someone else was probably stunned. How could this be? It’s explained that the “tablet language” – English, found on ancient relics from New York – is taught to children as part of Eloi culture and this person just happens to be a teacher.

Now… I know that using subtitles throughout the film (not to mention coming up with a language) would have been way harder and taken out the accessibility of this film. But how freaking plausible is it that in over eight-hundred-thousand years people are still learning English? I say practically none. Come on.

The other problem, similar in fashion, is that a library computer with a holographic interface survives from the year 2030 all the way to 802,701. Books? Crumble. Buildings? Destroyed. But somehow, magically, this computer makes it. What a coincidence!

I imagine we’d see fewer comments on newspaper sites if we all knew this stuff was going to serve as a representation of our entire civilization some 800,000 plus years in the future. Or… maybe not.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

What is this then?

The Daily Ping is the web's finest compendium of toilet information and Oreo™® research. Too much? Okay, okay, it's a daily opinion column written by two friends. Did we mention we've been doing this for over ten years? Tell me more!

Most Popular Pings