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film review

Eschewing DeLoreans, Terminators and hot tubs, Jay Cheel's documentary takes a refreshingly different approach to time travel than most moviegoers are used to. Part science doc and part ode to obsession, the film focuses on two men whose lives were forever changed by H.G. Wells's classic novel, The Time Machine. At one end is Rob Niosi, an animator who has spent a decade painfully recreating the central device from George Pal's 1960 cinematic adaptation. At the other is Ron Mallett, a low-key physicist who is working toward building an actual time-travel machine, all because he wants to reconnect with his father, who died when Ron was just a boy. Cheel builds the men's narratives slowly and with care, and never casts either as an eccentric in the Doc Brown mode. Instead, he's created an enchanting and whimsical tale of the lengths men go to explore the unknown, the sort Wells himself might be proud to call his own.