Time Again (2011) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Time Again is a fun b-movie science fiction actioner about a girl who time travels to save the life of her sister. Marlo (Angela Rachelle) and her older sister Sam (Tara Smoker) do everything together, including work at the same diner. One day a tip is mistakenly left of several rare coins that allow their owner to control the world by the member of a gang of thieves. When the gang leader and his goons return for the coins, Marlo has stepped out and Sam is covering her shift. Sam disappears in the shuffle. Six months later Marlo still has hope that Sam is alive somewhere. Detective Lym (John T. Woods) saves Marlo as the gang tries to capture her and again retrieve their lost coins. He spikes her interest bringing her missing sister to the front of her mind. She decides to visit the old diner, and there runs into an old lady that sends her back to that fateful day giving Marlo a chance at saving her sister. Winding through the events three times Marlo makes adjustments learned from past mistakes, and together she and her sister change the past for the better.

This is a low budget film from a first time director, but there’s a lot of promise shown here. The movie has the charm of a straight to video 80’s or 90’s action flick and moves briskly with a running time of only 82 minutes. There’s a lot of cheese in the dialogue and plot, but it fits the genre perfectly. It has the look and feel of something that’s sat on the shelf since the mid 90’s, yet somehow this feels fresh. For example during a fight sequence Detective Lym chooses to flip on some breakers and rip a wire from an electrical box to electrocute an assailant instead of putting him down with a firearm that lies less than ten feet away. Before he kills him Marlo yells out that he’s supposed to be the good guy, and Lym only lashes out when the goon pulls a knife.

The story is well thought out and the time travel is plotted very nicely. The film plays with a teaser at the beginning that is really the end, and then goes back to the beginning and on into the three time travel stints. Director Ray Karwel keeps the pace moving and the energy level up. Karwel, C.S. Hill and Debbie Glovin’s script handles the time loop with ease, setting up and paying off events throughout the loop from the start. This kept my attention as most time travel movies have problems with the loop and I enjoy picking them apart, but Time Again was so straight forward in its attempt that there was little to no explanation necessary for how time travel worked in this film. Some simple constraints were applied to keep the story going, but those were learned in a matter of one line here and there. Knowing that the loop was self contained and that things from the past were already effected by things that hadn’t happened yet made it easy to digest and enjoy moments as they unfolded.

The cast is great and all look the part. I swear that Ray Karwel has some time traveling coins of his own that he used to go back fifteen years to cast and create this film. John T Woods’ look is reminiscent of action stars of the past. I could easily see him headlining opposite a Michael Dudikoff or a Lorenzo Lamas type. Angela Rachelle makes a strong leading lady and Tara Smoker plays well off her. Head bad guy Scott F. Evans and his goons, Douglas Jantzen Jr., Jonathan Kowalsky, Haile D’Alan, and Fred Eric Anderson could easily play villains in a Seagal or Lundgren flick. The rest of the supporting cast fits in nicely and continues the perfect casting job for both look and feel. One of my favorite moments is the out of place smile on Robert Pike Daniel, who plays the sister’s father, as he seems to be beaming with pride, a daughter under each arm, during the final showdown.

The special effects are lacking, but there are some places where they’re seamlessly cut in such as establishing shots that are obviously created digitally yet actually look quite good. The prop guns have a horrid smoke effect that make them act like small smoke machines. Digital bullet hits look solid, but the electricity effect used a couple times is laughable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and a part of that charm I was referring to earlier.

My biggest complaint is the framing of the film. There is too much space in the frame and it distracts from the focus of the scene. It’s framed with too much head and foot room. Essentially it looks like it was shot for the ultra wide aspect ration of 2.35 and then someone forgot to letterbox it. I watched several scenes in a test 2.35 ratio and not only does the movie look like they spent more money on it, but it pulls you into the scenes and performances to such a degree that I would easily have graded this at three stars had it been presented as such.

Check this out if you like 80’s and 90’s straight to video flicks.

Director: Ray Karwel
Stars: Angela Rachelle, Tara Smoker, John T. Woods

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