The Time Traveler’s Wife (Blu-ray)
There are two opposing and competing elements of THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE; the love story between Henry and Clare (Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams) and Henry’s uncontrollable time travel. The work is really cut out for director Robert Schwentke as he tried to tie these two elements together to create an enjoyable film. We’ve seen time travel movies before and we’ve definitely seen love stories, but we’ve never even seen an attempt at combining them. After watching this, I think the answer is clear why it’s never been done.
At the age of six, Henry experiences his first time travel, right before his mother dies. Through his travels, he meets and falls in love with Clare, although how they met and how exactly that worked out was never really defined. In fact, nothing about Henry’s “condition” is really explained and any attempt on his part to find answers or control his time travel is barely addressed. It’s just something we as an audience have to accept. When he finally meets Clare in “real time”, they discover that having a relationship is pretty difficult when your spouse vanishes out of thin air on a completely random basis.
The love story between Henry and Clare is really the heart of the story, but any emotional scene between them felt forced. Bana and McAdams had zero chemistry and there were too many environmental factors playing against their love for the audience to truly connect. However, the most powerful scenes were of an adult Henry meeting his mother on the subway and of Henry meeting his daughter at the zoo. Strangely enough, neither of these scenes featured McAdams and that’s because the best parts of the film centered on how Henry dealt with the time travel. I wanted to know more about things that happened to him and how he dealt with it and less about Clare. I was okay with their love story, but it should have been more of a subplot than a focal point.
However, I will say that there are some emotional moments in the film, even if they didn’t completely pull at your heartstrings. I found myself wanting to care more than I actually did care. We had to root for these characters but because of some of the elements of the film, we knew how they were going to end and where the story was going. If not for a really good performance from the young Hailey McCann, it would have been tough to get through the third act altogether.
At the end of the day, science-fiction fans will struggle buying into the time travel aspect because they left too many things unaddressed and glossed over too many of the intricacies of time travel. There are several time loops and plot holes that left me scratching my head. However, it was clear that the focus of the film was on the love story with the time travel as a backdrop, but that just didn’t work. As it was, the time travel distracted from the love story and therefore we were left with two halves of a film that were very underdeveloped.
Video: I have to say that the 2.40:1 Widescreen transfer felt a little flat to me. Black levels were weak and the colors were a little saturated at times. It’s a Blu-ray, so it still looked good, but compared to other WB releases, I was disappointed.
Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack wasn’t used to its fullest, mainly because this is a dialogue-heavy movie. But the few instances that it was pushed were fine.
An Unconventional Love Story (26:55): Surprisingly, this little featurette did a lot to develop Henry’s character, which was one of my complaints of the film. They use a lot of movie clips interspersed with some behind the scenes shots. This is better than your standard making-of featurette and fans of the film (or maybe even the book) will enjoy this.
The Time Traveler’s Wife: Love Beyond Worlds (21:06): Again, this featurette covered some of the problems of the movie, most notably the difficulty of filming time travel and incorporating that into a love story. The screenwriter (Bruce Joel-Rubin) talks about the challenges and how he overcame them (in his opinion). I thought this was pretty interesting, even if I didn’t agree with his success level.