When thinking of low budget, sci-fi, time travel films, one almost instantaneously comes to mind: Nacho Vigalondo’s Los Cronocrímenes (titled Timecrimes in the U.S.). An enthralling story, great acting, the director/writer’s first name is Nacho – basically, you can’t go wrong! It had a grandiose feel, with minimal budget and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. At this point, you, dear reader, are probably thinking: “Jeez, they sure messed up the title of this review. This guy is talking about a completely different movie!” Don’t worry, I’m getting to it! Sci-fi and time travel CAN be messed up; countless films are below B-grade and more often than not, on the SyFy channel (though, they can acknowledge and use the cheesiness to their advantage). Director/writer Thomas Gomez Durham’s 95ers: Time Runners is an example of time travel gone wrong.
A good rule of thumb when writing a film review is to not devote too many words to describing the plot. That being said, here we go: the film follows Sally Biggs (Alesandra Durham), a star FBI agent who has the secret power to rewind time. She uses said power to investigate unsolved cases, most of which revolve around “strange occurrences” that destabilize time and all take place on I-95. In a distant, post-apocalyptic future, a war is being fought between two factions, with time machines that Sally’s dead scientist husband (named Horatio Biggs, played by Joel Bishop) helped create. They’re trying to link to Sally’s “when” and stop their future from happening, while Sally experiences echoes of her seemingly dead husband. This all connects, but not much better than the description I just gave.
I’d say the acting is passable, but even that’s a bit of a stretch. It’s stilted, almost forced and uninspired. One “dramatic scene” took me out of the experience entirely. Sally and her sister-in-law argue about Horatio, and how Sally can’t handle the mounting stress. It’s cringe-worthy, an ode to overacting, complete with yelling and obligatory tears set to an equally forced dramatic score.
In most sci-fi films, the draw (as in, what draws most butts into seats, besides an intriguing story) is the cinematography and special effects. Now, I understand this is a low budget feature, but the fact that this won Best Action AND Best CGI at a festival perplexes the shit out of me! The CGI and green screen are worse than that of a low budget video game and the cinematography is on par, if not worse, than a Made-For-TV movie! I should try submitting my shitty thesis film to this festival; I’ll probably win an award!
I tried, really I did, but I just couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in 95ers: Time Runners. The story’s all over the place and poorly paced, the acting’s not the greatest, by any means, and the cinematography’s worse than that of a TV movie. The closest thing I could think of in comparison is that it’s the sci-fi version of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. With the latter, you can’t tell if it’s meant to be taken seriously and because of that, it adds an almost endearing/surrealistic quality. With 95ers, it seems to take itself too seriously – ultimately hurting it. Do yourself a favor: skip out on this one and watch Timecrimes instead.