Timecrimes (DVD)

An excellent sci-fi caper, Timecrimes is a great example of how the genre is about ideas not images and about big dreams not big budgets. It tells the story of Hector, an ordinary guy who has just moved out into the countryside. One day he spots a naked woman walking through the woods nearby and, as you might expect, he goes up there to check it out.

Timecrimes DVDBut far from finding anything remotely pleasurable, he is stabbed in the arm by a creepy guy with a bandage-covered head. He flees up a hill where he breaks into a lab. The confused scientist inside convinces him to inside a large chamber in the middle of the room. However, it isn't just a chamber: it's a time machine. The ensuing mesh of events is a masterful tangle of events that has all of the engaging enjoyment factor of a puzzling whodunnit and everything you could want from an off-the-wall sci-fi adventure. There's car crashes, killings and confusion on a scale unexpected for a film of this financial scale. Director Nacho Vigalondo shows remarkable skill in orchestrating the whole affair, a goal made even more difficult by his appearance in the relatively central role of the scientist!

Leading man Karra Elejalde is not what you'd expect from the starring role, or for someone named Hector for that matter. A plain man, in every sense of the word, he bumbles his way through the unfortunate circumstances he finds himself in. He is neither endearing, nor heroic, and is frequently pretty stupid. But this is one of the strengths of the film. Like Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide, Hector represents the everyman of humanity, and that makes the situation that much more realistic, that much more exciting, than when it is a simple case of a hero fighting a hero's battle.

It's a real sci-fi fan's sci-fi film that works on every level. It is therefore of little surprise that it has already been picked up for a remake. Whilst there are likely to be benefits brought to the project by a big budget, the charm of this original is unlikely to be matched and I highly recommend you give it a chance. You won't be disappointed.

EXTRAS * Sadly just the trailer. Disappointing.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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