Clare (Rachel McAdams) has been in love with Henry (Eric Bana) her entire life. She believes they are destined to be together, even though she never knows when they will be separated: Henry is a time traveler—cursed with a rare genetic anomaly that causes him to live his life on a shifting timeline, skipping back and forth through his lifespan with no control.
Despite the fact that Henry's travels force them apart with no warning, Clare desperately tries to build a life with her one true love.
Time travel is a tricky storytelling device, one that I'm hesitant to accept at face value because of all the paradoxes that exist within the theory of time travel. 'The Time Traveler's Wife,' directed by relative newcomer Robert Schwentke and adapted by Bruce Joel Rubin ('Ghost') from the best-selling book of the same name, takes the time traveling conceit to a whole new level of unbelievability.
Clare (Rachel McAdams) and Henry (Eric Bana) are married. The only problem with their marriage is that Henry frequently disappears without warning. Henry is a time traveler. Not in the traditional Doc Brown/DeLorean sense – setting a certain destination and going there with time traveling technology - but in the genetic sense.
Clare has known about Henry's affliction since she was a girl, when he appeared without warning, naked in the woods when she was young (with his condition Henry cannot take the clothes that he's wearing with him). Just as a side note: If we didn't know this was a romantic film, we'd be pretty apprehensive about a cute young girl talking, nonchalantly, to a naked middle-aged man in the woods.
Clare immediately believed Henry when he revealed he was a time traveler. Eventually, the two get married. The entire story hinges on the fact that a middle-aged man, for no apparent reason, visited a girl he had already married and told her that he was indeed going to marry her in the future. Creepiness aside, it just doesn't hold water. The movie even disobeys its own logic. Henry says that he travels to "big events" in his life, but sometimes he just time travels, walks around the city for a while, and comes back. What's the point?
Taking 'Back to the Future' as an example of successful storytelling involving time travel, small changes do indeed impact the timeline. Henry travels back and forth through time, seemingly without changing a single, significant thing. In 'Back to the Future' Marty ends up destroying the city he once loved with the simple purchase of a magazine from the future. Schwentke's film plays with the timeline only when it's convenient to the story, and never addresses the "what if" scenarios of whether Henry's actions impact the past and future.
As an example, if Henry can't change the events of a fateful childhood car crash in his youth, how come he can change the course of history by winning the lottery with numbers he got from the future?
On the positive side, Bana and McAdams are spot on in their roles. Their relationship seems genuine, and their chemistry is touching. I just couldn't help but wish I was watching a movie about them, minus the time traveling gimmick. Far too much time is spent explaining and trying to figure out Henry's time traveling affliction, and not enough time is devoted to Clare and Henry's relationship. I don't know what it's like in the book, but time traveling, not love, takes center stage in this melodrama, and unfortunately, I think the filmmakers placed the emphasis on the wrong story element.
The 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer of 'The Time Traveler's Wife' reveals a beautifully colored, fully rendered picture that, at most times, is quite flawless. Colors are where this presentation excels, with lush greens and deep reds. Contrast is right on, even during a scene featuring a snow-covered meadow, the whites are just right, never burning too hot. Dark scenes are detailed, and delineation is ideal throughout. Fine detail on textures and patterns is top-notch. The only thing holding this transfer back is the noticeable edge enhancement used throughout the film. Sometimes it's not that bad, but at other times it's very visible, making characters look almost like they've been pasted against the background. Because of this, ringing is a constant issue during the film. If it weren't for the bothersome edge enhancement that resides in this presentation, 'The Time Traveler's Wife' would earn top honors.
While the audio portion's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio presentation won't blow you away, 'The Time Traveler's Wife's Soundtrack gives a very real and engaging audio performance.
The track is very well prioritized with dialogue never getting lost in the sound effects and music. Even the softest whispered piece of dialogue can be heard (except if it is a piece of dialogue being whispered that you aren't supposed to hear, which does happen). Sound effects, while few and far between are jolting – take the car crash at the beginning of the film as an example of the crisp effects you can expect during the film. Directionality is another strength, with off-screen voices coming from the side channels. Even the surround channels kick in with effects, as when Henry drops a few plates as he disappears. LFE is boisterous, even more than you might expect for a romantic drama. It kicks in during intense chase and action scenes, and during snippets of the soundtrack. Overall, this is a very well-put-together and engrossing presentation for a dramatic feature.
'The Time Traveler's Wife' comes with an extremely paltry offering in the special features category.
The idea surrounding 'The Time Traveler's Wife' is preposterous, and hard to overlook. If you can get past that though, you'll find a well-acted drama trapped inside a time travel enigma. Inhabiting this Blu-ray are some fine video and audio presentations, but even with the above average video and audio, I can only suggest a rental for this title.