Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Time Machine: An Interactive Adventure

The Time Machine

Directed by Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, and Rob Polonsky
2008, United States

Does everyone remember those "Choose Your Adventure" books where when you got to the end of the chapter you'd be given a choice of actions to take and that would determine where the story went? It seems that today's interactive media has kept this genre alive

Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, and Rob Polonsky are a group of sketch comedians who have many other online videos to their credit, some of which have been shown off the internet. According to the blog on their website, their film "Chad Hates Aliens" is being featured at the Comic-Con Independent Film Festival, and "No Spoofs for Old Men" was submitted for the 2008 MTV Movie Award for Best Spoof.

"The Time Machine" tells the story of three guys in an office who have five minutes to get to a meeting. Chad and Matt are waiting impatiently for Rob, who has disappeared. Suddenly, Rob rushes in sweaty and breathing heavy, and tells them about a time machine that he found in the office. As Rob tells them that the stuff on his face is dinosaur spit, a group of men in black suits and sunglasses enters the office (a la "The Matrix", a bit shamefully if you ask me) and begins to chase them. After a short chase, they reach the "time machine", which looks like two large garbage bins. Rob jumps in one of the bins, while Chad and Matt try to hold back the agents banging down the door. The action freezes and you are given a choice to have Chad and Matt get in or not. And thus the adventure begins.

I don't want to ruin the rest for all of you, so I'll go as far as saying the choices you make determine how the rest of the film plays out. I think this film fits in very well with this week's theme because there is no other medium other than the internet that would allow an interactive experience like this. I've seen some other examples of this as well, but I enjoyed this one the most.

I liked how Chad, Matt, and Rob used some typical film cliches in their representation of the past and future. In the past there are knights going on quests to fight dragons with swords (a la pretty much every medieval movie I can think of) and the in the future, there's a rampant flesh-eating zombie outbreak (a la "I Am Legend"). Also, there's the black-suit government agent types following them around the whole time, who are straight out of "The Matrix".

I think the interactivity of the internet will change the way we view film on the internet. If audiences find a taste for it, internet filmmakers will be obliged to create more interactive films. Maybe there will be a time when online "films" become almost indistinguishable from an online computer game. Or maybe audiences will prefer a more familiar sit-back-and-enjoy experience and the interactive film will be just another gimmick. Either way, the internet has provided a new outlet for filmmakers to express themselves in new and exciting ways.

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