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1 rating: 4.0
Movie about time travel and the JFK assassination

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Director: Robert Dyke
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about TimeQuest

What would you do if you had all the time in the world?

  • May 29, 2009
Can a science fiction film exist without the science? I feel it can, but there are many who do not share that sentiment and those are the people who tend to dislike TIMEQUEST intensely because this is a film about time travel that has the audacity to mention not a single word about the technology that makes its story possible--it simply IS. It is hardly the first film to do this. TIME AFTER TIME hardly gives a logical explanation nor for that matter does the early film version of H.G. Wells' TIME MACHINE, but that didn't prevent us from being able to enjoy them. In TIMEQUEST we are simply asked to presume that it has been developed by a single man acting alone. It is the REASONS behind his need/desire to invent this device and what he intends to do with it as well as the repercussions of his actions on history that are the focus of this story--not a lot of pseudo-scientific babble and sleek shiny computer banks.

As I said, I feel a science fiction film CAN exist as more than a mere showcase for its technology, and the reason is because SF exists to ask the question "What if?" In this case the entire question is; What if a time traveler went back to November 22, 1963 with the intention of stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and by extension that of his brother Robert 5 years later? Why would he do it? The answer appears simple on the surface because a great many of us would give anything to be able to go back to that horrible day and stop it all from happening if we only could...but our time traveler is motivated by something beyond merely wanting to set history right and change the world for what he is certain will be the better. Why does he wait until almost the last moment--why not pop in a couple of weeks before hand? How on earth does he manage to convince anyone that he's anything more than a nutcase when he shows up in the Presidential Suite of the hotel in what looks like a deep sea diver's outfit? And what is the message that he won't let Jackie hear--that only Jack and Bobby are privy to it? Lots of questions.

All of this could get terribly serious very quickly if it weren't for the film's unexpected sense of humor. The best part goes to Bruce Campbell playing against type as a futuristic maverick Hollywood director (read= Oliver Stone) who is firmly convinced that the Kennedy family has been involved in a cover-up for the last 37 years which he intends to reveal in his next film entitled NOVEMBER 22, 1963. He's right of course, although he could never begin to guess what it was that really happened on that date--much less what was supposed to have happened! Bruce's scenes also give us some funny examples of how stopping the assassination changed popular culture--for one thing John Lennon is still alive and still married to his first wife Cynthia, and the Beatles never really made it big in the states although they were fairly popular in Europe for awhile. As Bruce says, "kids just couldn't relate to them." I found the bombing of the Beatles to be an interesting sidelight in the film since many psychologists at the time theorized that their extreme popularity was a direct reaction to the trauma kids suffered as a result of JFK's death.

For a low budget film everything looks pretty slick and polished. Some have objected to the the film's decidedly nonlinear approach, but to me it seems the perfect way to tackle a story about time travel and the fact that almost every scene carries a date at the bottom made it very easy for me to follow. None of the actors resemble their real life counterparts physically, but most of the voices and accents are good matches. Luckily Caprice Benedetti in the critical role of Jacqueline Kennedy did not try mimic her voice--it wouldn't have worked at all and might even have sounded a bit silly. JFK isn't portrayed as a saint. His womanizing is brought out, and comes back to haunt him in a later scene when J. Edgar Hoover (nicely played by Larry Drake) tries to use some evidence of his infidelity as blackmail against him. Robert Kennedy is portrayed as  ruthless in his determination to protect his brother from any and all dangers, and is more than a match for Hoover in the blackmail department when he has adequate warning.

Have you ever wondered how your own life might have been different if you had done this or that, gone here or there, went right instead of left? Even the slightest change in the most insignificant of lives can have a ripple effect that goes outward and touches others, and by extension so must their death. Who then is to say that the future shown in this silly little movie with its rose colored glasses might not actually occur if the leader of a powerful nation were to be spared assassination--especially if that man was aware that he was being given a second chance at life? It has been suggested that this film is only for die hard Kennedy fans. That might be true (it's definitely NOT for die hard right wingers who kneel down in the direction of Glenn Beck every night to say their prayers), but with the rebirth of hope that Obama is supposed to have brought to our nation maybe this film will serve as a delicate warning of the day an earlier generation saw the first of three death blows dealt to its own dreams and naivete and innocence, and remind them that such history is only set right in science fiction movies. Bummer, huh?

HYPE FACTOR: Virtually unknown film, deserves an audience, if only of die-hard Kennedy liberals
What would you do if you had all the time in the world? What would you do if you had all the time in the world? What would you do if you had all the time in the world? What would you do if you had all the time in the world?

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May 19, 2010
You know I own this one, Bruce all the way. I always thought that this was an under appreciated film, never truly got its due, I think it is a really good movie. Also I never noticed that they never mention how the time travel is possible, EXCELLENT review.
May 20, 2010
Bruce was great in the flick. I love his Oliver Stone character and think it really makes the film work. It can use the laughs he provides.
January 04, 2010
What you said here reminds me of the movie Sliding Door. You might like it if you haven't seen it. Well, as for the question of what if... if things had been different, hmm, I might not have been born! Can't have that, lol...
January 04, 2010
Several movies have been made with a similar theme. I know the one you're talking about. I also saw a bad horror/action flick a couple of weeks ago where a female cop kept going back in time trying to undo a mistake she had made and every time she went back she just made it worse.
June 07, 2009
spectacular review, Karen. Your last paragraph sealed the deal on this write up. What might have been--or what would have been, the possibilities are endless. I'm not sure but did you expand this for Lunch? I remember reading about this in amazon. You rule for this type of flicks!
June 07, 2009
A little bit Woop, not a lot. A few words here and there that I think helped the piece.
May 31, 2009
It wasn't just a matter of being bummed out, it marked a complete shift in attitude and loss of hope in the peace, non-violent approach. It doesn't bother me in the least that Lincoln didn't believe that blacks could be assimilated, that may very well turn out to be true because there are people on both sides who would rather kill everyone than let that happen. What I really think is {also deleted by the CIA} and ultimately that's our only hope.
May 30, 2009
First of three? Come on this country's been dealt greater blows from it's beginning... Aaron Burr, John Brown, Abraham Licoln, etc.
May 30, 2009
All in one generation and all within a five year span? Read the line.
May 30, 2009
Okay, yeah, my example spans about 3o some odd years. However, Keith Moon, John Lennon, Bob Marley, John Bonham, and Bon Scott all died between 1978 and 1981. And what a loss to the music industry they were! :(
May 30, 2009
But with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions you can hardly call those earth shaking political assassinations. And even those are a stretch.
May 30, 2009
Well, no, but they shook up the world of music and music's influence is far and wide. If you study chaos theory you start to see how the most insignificant of alterations can create huge tangents and affect so much, and those deaths (particularly Lennon and Marley) have had a major impact on the world. In fact, there's a really fascinating speculative "documentary" about what the music world would look like if Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison were all still alive. I can't recall the name or the director (he was French), but if I remember I'll let you know. It was really intriguing.
May 30, 2009
I had a movie at one time that speculated that Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison were all killed by the CIA. So if the most insignificant change can bring about that much chaos how much more damage can a truly SIGNIFICANT act do?
June 01, 2009
It was not anywhere near as good as it sounds. In fact it was pathetic.
June 02, 2009
There's also a German film about a kid who goes back in time to kill Hitler and accidentally saves him, if that's more to your liking.
June 02, 2009
Talk about irony! What's the title? Is it hard to find? There's also that second TIME COP flick with Jason Scott Lee that 's sort of built around that too.
June 02, 2009
The title's in German and it translates to something along the lines of "A Lesson in Time: The Sins of My Fathers" or something like that. It's a really deep, philosophical sci-fi film, but a little heavy on the themes. I saw it at the suggestion of one of my history teachers and i liked it, but found it to be just too dense.
June 02, 2009
Sounds like it might not be on NetFlix.
June 02, 2009
If you do find it on DVD, refresh my memory on the title. I'd love to see it again. The last time was about ten years ago.
June 02, 2009
It would probably be easier to find with the German title.
May 30, 2009
Yes, that Squeaky Fromme tried to shoot Ford only a week before, but didn't even shoot a round. A book was published on the life of Sara Jane Moore, entitled Aiming at the President. She's had five husbands and 4 or 5 children, all of which she abandoned. Ironically, (or maybe not) her I.Q. is 140....wonder if she belonged to Mensa!
May 30, 2009
I tried to see if there was a published membership list to see if Al Gore was on it but apparently there isn't one so we'll never know about either of them. I took the preliminary test once just to see where I stood.
May 29, 2009
Hi.....much food for thought here and you bring up numerous questions I've thought of over the years. We're all where we are because of the decisions we've made in the past. I would very much like to know what would have happened had I decided to go right instead of left, or what if I had chosen a different career path or college?? I often wonder what shape our country would be in today had the assassination of President Kennedy never happened. Did you happen to see Matt Lauer's interview yesterday with Sara Jane Moore, the woman who fired a shot at President Gerald Ford in 1975? It missed his head by only several inches. Thanks for this thought-provoking, intelligent review and I do intend to see the film.
May 30, 2009
No I didn't. There was at least one other attempt on his life wasn't there? The chick from the Manson family, Squeaky Fromme or something like that.
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