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Time Again
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by Jay Seaver

"Practice makes... well, not perfect, but better."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: It would be nice if "Time Again" were a little better. The filmmakers are trying so hard to make an entertaining movie, and at times they've got the right idea. Energy, enthusiasm, and good intentions can only take a movie so far, though, and this one could probably use a little more in the way of resources and experience.

Sam (Tara Smoker) and Marlo (Angela Rachelle) are sisters who live, work, and play together - although Sam is older and more responsible while Marlo is impetuous. And yet, it's Sam who disappears in the aftermath of a bloodbath at the diner where they work on her birthday. Six months later, a man with an office in the same building (Scott F. Evans) tries to have Marlo kidnapped because he thinks Sam stole something from him and now Marlo has it, though she's rescued by Detective Lym (John T. Woods). Things get really strange when an old woman (Gigi Perreau) shows up with a set of strange coins, somehow sending Marlo back in time to the day of the incident.

Director Ray Karwel knows what he wants to make here - a fun action movie which can be done with limited locations and budget, with a story simple enough for the audience to not have to worry about it but just enough twist to keep things interesting. On the larger scale, he gets the tone right more often than not. Things move fast enough to keep from getting dull, there's just enough irreverence for the tone to be breezy despite the real danger, with the silly, pulpy nature of the central plot device helping in that regard too. Karwel and his co-writers don't strive for more importance than the story can support, and that serves them well.

The details are a lot trickier. While the overall tone of the movie is right, a lot of individual moments are more than slightly off. The filmmakers try to force banter, whether between Marlo & Sam or Marlo & Lym, at moments when the audience needs them to take stuff a bit more seriously. There's two father figures when one would do. Characters uneasily straddle the border between being entirely incidental and apparently meant to be somewhat memorable. And the time-travel doesn't quite diagram - it's close, but the plot neither works as a closed loop or a malleable timeline.

The cast is similarly not quite there. Angela Rachelle and John T. Woods seem capable enough, and maybe if they were given characters with strong individual personalities, they'd be able to do more, but as-is they're sort of bland - they're not going to elevate the material on their own. Tara Smoker and Scott F. Evans are a notch or two under that - it's a bit of a relief that Marlo winds up the protagonist instead of Sam, and Evans doesn't quite figure out how to reconcile Mr. Way's small-time appearance with his rather grandiose plans.

The entire group do okay on the action front. The cast does their own stunts, which has its pluses and minuses - no obvious doubling, but some of the punches may seem pulled. Karwel doesn't have the resources to make a truly remarkable action movie, but he is able to stage fights pretty clearly, and when one considers the looping structure of the script, he's able to make the third time through feel fresher than it has any right to.

"Time Again" isn't a good movie, but it's at least the sort of C-movie that's made by people trying to hone their craft rather than just cynically crank something out. It's just good enough for me to wonder what some of the people involved could do and learn if they hooked up with more experienced collaborators.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=23447&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/27/12 04:08:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2012 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

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Directed by
  Ray Karwel

Written by
  Ray Karwel
  C.S. Hill
  Debbie Glovin

Cast
  Scott F. Evans
  John T. Woods
  Angela Rachelle
  Tara Smoker
  Gigi Perreau



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