Review by Michael Jacobson
Jesse Bradford, Paula Garces, French Stewart, Michael Biehn, Robin Thomas
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: August 13, 2002
officially freaking out now.”
excited me most about the arrival of the film Clockstoppers was not the
subject matter, though it was cool, nor the cast of young actors, though they
were likable…it was the fact that Jonathan Frakes had directed his first film
outside of the Star Trek franchise.
may always be known to Trekkies as Commander William Riker from The Next
Generation, but he proved himself a talented director by helming not only
some television episodes from the series, but the films First Contact and
Insurrection as well. The
former is regarded as one of the best of the Star Trek movies; the latter
isn’t, but no one can deny that Frakes brought solid visions to the screen in
both cases. He proved himself
comfortable with action and special effects, as well as coaxing the best from
his actors, and wrapping it all up in packages of pure fun.
perhaps, that his first directing foray outside of Star Trek would be a
fast paced, science fiction film, and one aimed at entertaining the whole
family. Clockstoppers earns
a comfortable PG rating, meaning not only can parents feel good about their kids
seeing it, but they can watch too, without feeling trapped into constantly
peeking at their watch.
if they did, chances are, they don’t have a watch like the one that falls into
the hands of Zak (Bradford). Zak’s
a normal kid…free spirited, enterprising, athletic. His main concerns are the new car he hopes to buy and the
beautiful new girl from Venezuela, Francesca (Garces), whom he’s dying to
father (Thomas) is a top notch professor and scientist, who has secretly been
helping one of his old students, Dopler (Stewart) with a revolutionary
experiment: a device that speeds up
the molecular patterns of its bearer to the point where everything else around
seems completely still…from the bearer’s point of view, it essentially
device is implanted in a watch, which accidentally ends up in Zak’s hands.
The first few sequences of “time freeze” are fun, as he and Francesca
reap a few mischievous benefits of super-speed.
But all is not well.
a device in the wrong hands would be unthinkable, and the wrong hands happen to
be a corporation Dopler was working for, headed by a Mr. Gates (!?!) (Biehn).
He will stop at nothing to get the watch back, including kidnapping
Zak’s father and making Zak out to be a fugitive!
It will take all of the young friends’ pluck and determination to get
Zak’s father back and prevent Gates from selling the technology to the highest
as with any Einstein-theory based film, you could argue the scientific
wherewithal of speeding up or slowing down time, and what it would actually mean
to the “time traveler”. If you
want to have fun at the movies, sometimes you have to let your brain rest and
just accept science the way it's presented to you for 90 minutes.
Being a Star Trek veteran, Jonathan Frakes knows that well.
wisely doesn’t dwell on the science, but on the fun of the premise…what
WOULD you do if you could freeze time? I
can think of plenty of things…but unfortunately, my movie wouldn’t have been
PG rated. ;-)
special effects are quite cool throughout…the vision of time standing still
isn’t just a bunch of actors becoming statues, but rather, streaks of light
that don’t fade, water droplets that suspend in mid air, bees that hover
slowly, and so on. Frakes’ eye
for detail is strong in these scenes…keep an eye on the backgrounds, and
you’ll notice he didn’t miss a trick in making it all seem real.
strength of the cast boils mostly down to the two young stars, and both do well.
Jesse Bradford has a kind of Bruce Campbell-esque charm (and yes, I do
mean that as a compliment), while pretty Paula Garces brings a touch of strength
and independence to her role…she ain’t no damsel in distress, folks.
again, the real star is Jonathan Frakes, who took what might have been
substandard material and elevated it into something well-paced and fun.
Given the chance, he could become our next major action film director, in
which case Clockstoppers under scrutiny will make for a strong resume
Speaking of Frakes and his Star Trek background, keep an ear out
for one of the year’s funniest in-jokes.
For a film with such distinct visuals, Paramount offers the best
anamorphic transfer you could want with this DVD.
This picture is a colorful, detailed work in which said details go by
both fast and slow. Nothing is lost
in the mix because of compression, grain or softness.
Images are sharp and well defined in all levels of lighting, and colors
are strong, natural, and perfectly contained throughout.
5.1 audio track is even better, with one of the best uses of digital surround
for an opening title sequence I’ve heard!
And of course, it’s just the beginning.
The picture is filled with fast swooping action that sends the sound in
all directions with no timidity. Dynamic
range is strong, the bass is ever-present, and…oh, yeah, the music soundtrack
is killer, too, boasting a great range of good rock songs.
extras department doesn’t fare as well, but there are a few items present…a
ten minute promotional featurette, two music videos (by Lil’ J and Smash
Mouth), a trailer, and 4 promotional spots that I’m guessing aired on
Nickelodeon. I would have loved a
commentary track by Frakes, but I suppose he was off working on the next Star