Comedy | Sci-Fi - 3 September 2005 (Japan)
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Writer: Makoto Ueda
Stars: Eita, Yoshiaki Yoza and Daijiro Kawaoka
I would like to kick start this blog with one of my favourites. Not a recent film but a film that should be brought to the attention of everyone. This Japanese comedy is one of the most brilliantly written and intelligent sci-fi films I have ever witnessed. Which is why I personally believe it is at the top of the best Time Travel films of all time! That's correct, just as good as Back To The Future and slightly better than Bill & Ted.
Samâ taimu mashin burûsu or in English; Summer Time Machine Blues is a Sci-Fi film to come out of Japan in 2005. Yes, the film is 7 years old yet most people still haven't heard of or seen this excellent film. Why? Because for some reason unbeknownst to me, this film hasn't had an International DVD release.
Setting; An extremely hot summers day in Japan. A Sci-Fi club are indulging in a bit of Japan's favourite sport Baseball, while a member of the local Camera Club(who share the same building) are taking shots of their not so technically great game. When an accident between the members breaks their remote control for their air conditioner they seek their club tutor to fix it. However the extreme heat has everyone acting a bit loopy and the tutor is practically useless. Back at the club house they stumble upon a strange looking contraption, which turns out to be a time machine. Not knowing where it came from or who it belongs to they decide to try it out. The best use they can come up for the time machine? Go back to yesterday and save the air conditioning remote control from being broken!
Yes, the plot isn't the most intelligent outline for a time travelling film. But this film has so many surprises and tricks up it's sleeve. On first viewing you will often wonder why people are saying or doing certain things, but don't worry, everything will be answered in time.... almost!
The young cast are all fantastic in their roles. With Eita who was the star of the Water Boys TV show and Juri Ueno who was in Swing Girls playing the leads brilliantly. One of the characters who steals the film with his bit part is the manager of a B-Movie Sci-Fi Cinema who offers the group advice on time travel from the many hours of film he has watched. While wearing his Star Trek Next Generation uniform he explains the laws of time travel. This sets up one of the funniest scenes of the film when Professor Kohtaro Hozumi takes them all into his classroom to explain time travel and the consequences. The cinema manager and the Sci-Fi club member's reactions are hilarious to this scientific explanation of time travel... Which will actually leave the viewer with a deeper understanding of the laws of time travel.
Yes. I see what you did there.
Look out for references and part homages to other Sci-Fi films like Back To The Future and The Time Machine, it's easy to see what helped inspire this film, and it isn't afraid to show were it borrowed some ideas from.
Summer Time Machine Blues is relatively low budget with a small cast and most of the scenes being shot in the Sci-Fi club house. But the special effects are on par with Hollywood as they are used sparingly. Also, the camera is used brilliantly to capture the scorching heat to help you feel their desperation. The Director also uses a simple effect to show the parallel time line differences, split screen, simple but very effective and humorous.
This is one of those rare films you should really see at least twice to understand exactly what is going on and it will open up new perspectives and theories about the story, you will notice events and background details which you wouldn't bat an eyelid at on your first viewing. Even then, you will still be trying to decipher the time line paradox of the remote control... or where the time machine really came from in the first place?
Tomorrow is perfect to watch it! Or how about yesterday?
Summer Time Machine Blues can't be described in any more detail without ruining the ride you are in for. It's ironic that it's a comedy and it acknowledges it's own paradox, yet it stays true to science and logic and ends up being one of the most intelligent time travel films I have witnessed. And it's definitely the funniest. See it for yourself! For the full effect, watch it on a very hot day!