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Five & Two Pictures, 2002
Running Time: 89 minutes
Director: Rich Christiano
Producers: Rich Christiano & Kevin Downes
Amazon.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.ca: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Christianbook.com: NTSC DVD
Recommended by: Greg Slade
Time Changer tells the story of a professor from a Bible College who is transported through time from 1890 to the 21st century. While in the present time, he experiences the great changes in society which have occurred during the intervening century.
I have to confess that I didn't have high expectations for this film. Past experience with explicitly Christian films had led me to expect bad writing, "preachy" dialogue, violation of character, wooden acting, and shoddy production.
In fact, Time Changer has almost none of those elements. Yes, okay, it does get "preachy", but, for a change, it seems to be aimed at a Christian target audience, rather than attempting to convert non-Christians who would likely never go to see it. Therefore, the preachiness, while still somewhat heavy-handed, would not necessarily turn off the intended audience. Then, too, the message is more subtle than one would expect, and does invite some reflection on the way Christians interact with the rest of the world. Instead of lamenting the low level of morality in the present, as compared to the past, the message is about the effect of preaching Christian morality without Christ. Thus, it is not a polemic against licentiousness, as one might expect, but rather against legalism. (Or, if you will, against preaching law without grace.)
More obviously, the acting is considerably better than in most Christian films I've seen. The key characters are all played by well-known Hollywood actors, and they turn in excellent performances here. D. David Morin, who plays Russell Carlisle, the protagonist, delivers a marvellous performance, nicely balanced between comedy (as he shows the likely impact of 21st century culture on a 19th century character) and drama (as he shows that character having to revise his deeply cherished beliefs in light of his experiences.) If the quality of the acting drops off once you get past the central characters, well, that is standard in all but the very best that Hollywood has to offer.
The production values, too, were a pleasant surprise. With the lamentable exception of the time machine itself, the sets were quite well done, the lighting was better than similar productions, and even the soundtrack is a noticeable improvement. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this film, and while it's almost certainly too preachy to inflict upon your non-Christian friends, it is entertaining and thought-provoking, and worth checking out.
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