Teenager Zak Gibbs (Jesse Bradford) finds a wristwatch among his father's inventions. He discovers the watch has the ability to freeze time in the world around him while he is able to move around freely. Armed with his new
device Zak and his new friend, exchange student Francesca (Paula Garcés), start having fun in 'hypertime'. But Zac and Francesca are not alone; the evil head of Quantum Technologies, Henry Gates (Michael Biehn), will stop at
nothing to recover Zak's watch and carry out his plan to rule the world.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
I liked this family-friendly comic fantasy. There are far too few films that satisfy this difficult demographic and Clockstoppers is one that mum, dad, kids and the dog can enjoy together. It has an appealing cast of young actors and is driven by the kind of science-fiction 'what if' scenario I find irresistible. What would it be like to slow time down to an almost imperceptible crawl and run around organising pranks that pay off
spectacularly when you zap everyone back into real time? Jesse Bradford, Paula Garcés and Garikayi Mutambirwa (who plays Zak's best buddy Meeker) are an engaging trio of non-brattish characters whose discovery of a great novelty is nicely developed into a story about the real world of villains and (shock) the value of education. It's not easy to promote things like studying hard at maths and science but Clockstoppers does it very well by making its messages part of the fun. The grown-ups who made this get it right by giving us plenty of sped-up and slowed-down hijinks and worthy dramatic stakes to play for in between the special effects set-pieces. Producer Gale Ann Hurd (The Terminator, T2, Aliens, Dick etc) and director Jonathan Frakes, who directed and starred in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection, know this territory well. Their expertise delivers an exciting, fun and occasionally mildly scary adventure that ensures a good time for all. I also liked the name of the villain. Played by Michael Biehn, he's a nasty biotech company boss called Gates. Of course all characters events etc are fictional but the maniacal behaviour of this high-tech baddie reminded me of someone else involved in a similar sort of technology-intensive business...
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
‘Freeze the Future’ is the catchy tag line on the promotional material, with a subtitle “What if you had the power to stop time?’ What if more movies put fun into their recipes? What if we could freeze crap films? Clockstoppers delivers a well paced and strikingly effective adventure somewhere between science fiction and old fashioned adventure, with likeable characters we care about, fighting off baddies whose souls are pug ugly. The fascinating concept adds an edge to the dramatic tension, and has clearly intrigued the SFX brigade, which has concocted a fabulous set of effects for time warping. When the wristwatch with the extraordinary power to speed up the wearer’s molecules is activated, everything else slows to 100th normal speed, while the wearer moves at normal time. Not only is the effect visually exciting, but the process gives us pause for thought, and even makes us consider life processes in a slightly new light. Sprinkling water and bees hover, objects don’t fall, they float as if weightless in space. The SFX aside, decent performances from a well cast bunch of younger and older actors make Clockstoppers engaging as well as intriguing.
Review by Louise Keller:
A hip ride into hyper-time, Clockstoppers is a lively and enjoyable adventure for all ages at any time. From its gee-whiz opening credits that take us into the inner workings of a watch, Clockstoppers is an old fashioned kind of story with the ultra tech cool of today’s special effects. And the effects are startling. In fact I knew the magic of the film had enveloped me, when I positively felt spooked when water stands still, and we can literally brush each drop away. While the storyline may be far-fetched, the notion of how we manage time is one that has fascinated us for years – be it in the guise of time travel, or indeed to have the option of stopping time and bottling up the moment. Don’t be surprised if Jesse Bradford makes it big in the star stakes – here, he shows plenty of charisma and appeal, while Paula Garcés is delightful as the Consul’s daughter. Michael Biehn, who despite the 50 films he has made, will always be remembered for his role in the Terminator films, makes a great baddie, and I really like Robin Thomas’ professor-dad, whose brilliance inspires him to spend time with genius students, rather than rebellious sons. Clockstoppers finds a great balance of wacky humour, stunning techno-effects, romance and a sense of good family values. I mean who wouldn’t stop the clock to avoid a speeding fine?
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CAST: Jesse Bradford, Paula Garcés, French Stewart, Michael Biehn
PRODUCER: Gale Anne Hurd, Julia Pistor
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Frakes
SCRIPT: Rob Hedden, Andy Hedden, J. David Stem, David N. Weiss
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tim Suhrstedt
EDITOR: Peter E. Berger, Jeff Canavan
MUSIC: Jamshied Sharifi
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marek Dobrowolski
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 26, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
VIDEO RELEASE: March 21, 2003 (also on DVD)