Imagine technology so powerful that it can slow time. Now imagine that this techonology resides in a watch, and the wearer can simply press a button and slow everything around him/her such that it looks like time stopped. Now, take this potentially fascinating subject and make a boring movie, and the result is Clockstoppers. This is the latest movie from Nickelodeon, which means it is fairly family friendly, which also means that most people outside the young target audience will fail to find anything of worth here. Like many movies nowadays, it isn't great, and it doesn't suck, it just falls somewhere into the gray area in-between. Nevertheless, it does have the elements that kids should enjoy - teens taking power into their hands and saving the world, teens doing whatever they want, bike stunts, and moderate special effects.
The watch in question is in the hands of Zak Gibbs (Jesse Bradford, Bring It On, Cherry Falls), son of the brilliant Dr. George Gibbs (Robin Thomas, The Contender, More Dogs Than Bone). Zak Gibbs is an ordinary teen. He wants a car and wants to spend time with his dad. His dad loves his son, but is a little absent-minded and easily caught up in work. Currently, he's helping Dr. Earl Doppler (French Stewart, Love Stinks, Dick) with a top-secret experiment (duh, the watch). Zak finds it and discovers what it can do, and along with his friend Francesca (Paula Garces, Harvest, Dangerous Minds), do what any other teenagers with something like this would; they goof off. They pull lame pranks on their friends and cause small amounts of mischief (nothing bad, remember, this is Nickelodeon) until they realize that something bigger is happening. Doppler calls this 'frozen time' "hypertime."
Henry Gates (Michael Biehn, Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, The Art of War) is after the watch. He kidnapped Doppler, who managed to escape and is now running around with Zak. Gates knows that Zak has a watch, and kidnaps Dr. Gibbs in return. The story, by Rob Hedden (Alien Fury, Dying to Live), Andy Hedden, and J. David Stem and David N. Weiss (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Rugrats in Paris) consists of two main parts; goofing off with the watch and sub par action movie. One would think that director Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: First Contact) would be able to bring some excitement or science fiction with his credentials, but the most he offers is a Next Generation throwaway joke.
Clockstoppers never really clicks because it seems like it is old. Cartoons, comic books, books, and movies have used similar ideas for years. The only real difference here is that the special effects are better than they were years ago, so Clockstoppers looks better. Part of what makes this a family movie is a change that Zak goes through. He resents the time his father spends away from him, and is nearing full teenage rebellion. He has to learn that his father does love him, and in turn his father, needs to learn to display his love more overtly. Again, nothing new here, and Frakes does not handle it in any special manner. There's also nothing that stands out about anybody in the cast, except for the fact that Stewart is not as annoying as he usually is. Bradford and Garces are merely good-looking, anonymous actors saying their lines with little afterthought for charisma or presence. As Clockstoppers kicks into high gear, one wishes that, instead of slowing down time, sped it up, so this movie could end quicker.
|Haro Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated PG for action violence and mild language.|
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