H.G. Wells, (Malcolm McDowell) is an author and inventor who invented a time machine. He believes that the future will be a utopian society. He thinks he can get there in his time machine. He shows it off to some friends after dinner. One of his friends is Doctor John Leslie Stevenson (David Warner). He arrived late for dinner but just in time for the unveiling of the time machine. A knock at the door proves to be the police. They are looking for Dr. Stevenson. They believe the good doctor is Jack the Ripper.
To escape the police the doctor steals the time machine and goes into the future. When the time machine automatically returns to its original time Wells follows suit to find the doctor in the future and bring him back to London 1893 to face justice. Once Wells is in the future, which is present time 1979, his calculations show that due to the rotation of the Earth he is now in San Francisco. This is where he meets Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen).
With Amy's help Wells begins his quest to find his former friend in a world that is far from the utopia he believed it would be. Jack the Ripper is more at home in modern day San Francisco than Wells is. How do you find Jack the Ripper in a strange land and time? Follow the bodies. From then on the action, and the adrenalin flows.
"Time After Time" was released in 1979 and was directed by Nicholas Meyer. What a fantastic idea. To have H.G. Wells, one of the fathers of Science Fiction and who wrote “The Time Machine”, make a time machine and use it to go forward in time. Wow. And to make it even better he’s going after Jack the Ripper. Excellent!
If along with a fabulous story plot you add in superb actors, great dialogue, and set it in, for the time, modern day San Francisco you have a great ride that doesn’t stop. It’s a movie idea that doesn’t come along very often. There are a plethora of Science fiction movies, horror movies, time travel movies, and thrillers but when was the last time they were all together in one movie, and done so well?
Despite the fact that this film was done before CGI, the special effects are wonderful, especially when you blend them with the music score. Along with good story telling the film is also a sad commentary on the world. Wells believes he is going into a future that is a utopia. The ripper knows that man will not change and may even be worse because to him the future is where he should be. “I belong here completely and utterly. I’m home.” It’s a depressing view of man's evolution in the world and it’s woven into the story brilliantly. We have not learned from our mistakes.