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The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/9/2010

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/4/2010

Get it on Blu-ray, DVD, and download on February 9.

One of my favorite moments from Season 5 of Lost comes when Miles is trying to explain time travel to Hurley. After a few minutes, Hurley says something like, "Dude! That makes no sense!" And although he doesn't want to, Miles has to agree. Welcome to every time travel story. Even the best written ones can leave audiences scratching their heads. There is probably no single genre which is more confusing, or confounding, than time travel stories. Even tales which lean more towards the dramatic, such as The Time Traveler's Wife, can contains time travel conundrums which can pull the viewer right out of the film.

The Time Traveler's Wife introduces us to Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana). Henry has the ability to travel through time (and space, apparently, as he goes to different locations when he travels). He first displayed this odd trait at age six as he was about to be involved in the car accident which took his mother. Since that time, he would suddenly vanish and then later re-appear, having traveled to either the past or future. Henry cannot control this ability and when he time-travels, his clothes don't go with him, so he's naked when he reaches his destination. At age 28, Henry meets 20-year old Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) for the first time...as far as he's concerned. However, a future version of Henry has been visiting Clare since she was a child and she's been in love with him her whole life. They begin seeing each other and are soon married. Despite the fact that Clare loves Henry deeply, she struggles with the fact that he suddenly disappears and is often gone for days at a time. Also, she is visited by Henry's from different points in time. Their relationship becomes more strained when it becomes clear that Henry's ability is genetic and it may keep them from being able to have a normal family life.

Wow! A sci-fi chick-flick? Are you kidding me? The front cover of this movie scream "romance" and it's based on a best-selling novel, but from the opening scene, it's very apparent that this movie isn't fooling around with its science-fiction trappings. This is either a brilliant idea or a very crazy one.

Let's start off by assuming it's a brilliant idea. This makes The Time Traveler's Wife a movie which would presumably have appeal which would cross many lines. At it's core, this is a chick-flick, but it also contains a time-travel story which is not unlike something out of The Terminator (sans violence and sentient robots, of course). The film also has an intellectual slant if one chooses to view the time-travel concept as symbolism for a dysfunctional relationship. Henry never seems to be around when Clare needs him, and since she feel in love with a 40-something Henry when she was a young girl, it's clear that Clare is in love with an idealized version of Henry and perhaps not Henry himself. The fact that Clare sees (and romances) Henry from various places in time could be read as a way of saying that we aren't always the same person all of the time when we are in relationships. (Please stop me if this gets too wacky.)

Before we go any further, we all have to agree on one thing: time travel stories are confusing. Be it The Terminator, Back to the Future, or Lost, there's always that, "What...?" moment which seems to make no sense. The Time Traveler's Wife has a lot of these and this certainly hurts the film. Again, the movie isn't apologetic about the time-traveling parts of the story. It starts in the opening moments and continues throughout the film. Many viewers are going to be lost from the get-go. It will take you some time to wrap your head around the fact that Clare knows Henry when they meet, but Henry doesn't know her because he hasn't traveled back in time to meet her yet. Those kinds of issues crop up throughout the film, and there are times when we wish the movie could just focus on Henry and Clare as a couple for a few minutes and leave the time-traveling behind. The time-traveling motif also causes the second half of the movie to sag. I won't give anything away here, but, essentially, because of time-traveling, Henry and Clare (and the audience) are given a glimpse of what the future holds. Thus, we spend the last act waiting for the inevitable to happen. This creates a mild sense of suspense and emotion, but it would have been better if the movie had tried to surprise us.

There are also some holes and issues in the story. We are told time-and-time again that Henry travels through time, but no one addresses the fact that he also moves through space. In short, if he only traveled through time, he would be in the exact same location, but in the future or past. But, Henry also moves from place-to-place. This is never discussed. This was my biggest problem with the whole story: If you're a time-traveler and you find yourself suddenly being naked in strange places over and over again, move to a warmer climate! Heck, move to the south of France -- with the nude beaches, you'll always fit in. Also, Stephen Tobolowsky enters the film as a doctor who may be able to help Henry, but this storyline goes nowhere.

Despite being confusing and flawed, The Time Traveler's Wife's unique take on a modern love story makes it an intriguing film. Again, despite the fact that Henry is a time traveler, he and Clare share the same highs and lows as many couples, and seeing them go through them is touching. While the movie is emotionally distant at times, there are some scenes in the latter half of the film which are tissue-worthy and will win over most viewers.

The Time Traveler's Wife suddenly fades away on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, especially those seen in the meadow. The movie is never overly dark or bright. The depth is satisfactory, but the level of detail is quite good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs an 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a chick-flick, we get good sound here. The stereo effects are quite good. There's a scene where Henry drop a dish off-screen and we hear it quite well in the right channel. Several scenes, most notably a fight, provide good surround sound effects. Fireworks and the opening car crash deliver satisfying subwoofer effects.

The Time Traveler's Wife Blu-ray Disc contains only two extras. "An Unconventional Love Story" (26 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers comments from the cast and filmmakers, as well as a nice amount of on-set footage. While examining the story and themes of the movie, the piece also focuses on some of the key scenes in the film. There is a nice look at the characters here. "The Time Traveler's Wife: Love Beyond Words" (21 minutes) contains extensive comments from Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin and Director Robert Schwentke who talk about how the story was transitioned from novel to film. Rubin offers insight into his work process and lets us know why certain parts of the book were excised or changed.

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long