Jesse Bradford and Paula Garc├ęs in Clockstoppers (2002)

Clock Watching

As a child I suffered from these strange moments where everything around me felt like it was running in fast forward, people spoke faster, moved faster or maybe I had slowed down. I never did find out why this happened and then these episodes seemed to past but watching "Clockstoppers" made me remember those events as here we have a movie which does the opposite, where a gadget allows those touching it to experience hyper-time which makes everything around them appear to slow down when in fact they have sped up. Sounds great, but in truth "Clockstoppers" is a children's movie where the science is purely a nifty idea and built around that is a routine comedy boosted by some good special effects and the pairing of Jesse Bradford and Paula Garcés as typical teenage, romantic protagonists. It is not a movie for adults but has enough about it to amuse young children who won't notice some distinct plot holes.

Zak Gibbs (Jesse Bradford - Bring It On) is trying to raise money to but his dream car and in order to do so he is selling what he can. It is why rummaging through his dad's old junk that he comes across a fancy looking watch and takes it. What Zak doesn't realise is that watch was sent to his dad by Dr. Earl Dopler (French Stewart - Stargate) a former student of his and now a top scientist who has managed to tap into hyper-time where those touching the watch move quickly whilst everyone around them looks to be in slow motion. But there is a problem as not only does prolonged use of hyper-time cause aging but a top secret government agency want the watch back and are on Zak and friend Francesca's (Paula Garcés) tail.

French Stewart in Clockstoppers (2002)

"Clockstoppers" is basically a movie with an idea but then it builds a standard children's movie around it. That nifty idea is a watch which makes you so quick that everyone around you looks to be in slow motion although in truth they are at normal speed and you are so quick they can't see you. It is a fun idea although without the explanation it does come across as if everyone has been slowed down leading to some nice set pieces where the special effects come in to play such as Zak and Francesca messing about in a motionless sprinkler. For young children it is fun with enough comedy coming from the various set pieces including watch Dr. Dopler age due to hyper-time.

But not only is the logic full of gaping plot holes but a pretty standard storyline is built around it. As such we've seen it all before as we have mysterious people in suits chasing after Zak because of the watch and then Zak along with Francesca fighting back when a member of his family is kidnapped. It is again fun for young children who will enjoy the family friendly action side of things especially with a nice series of scenes featuring Zak doing stunts on a bike to escape the bad guys. But at the same time adults will find it all a bit too familiar and dull.

But "Clockstoppers" has one thing very much on its side and that is the casting of Jesse Bradford and Paula Garcés as Zak and Francesca. They make for a pleasant teenage couple, amusing and attractive as they end up working together to try and outsmart the bad guys. Talking of which Michael Biehn is seriously under used as Henry Gates who to be honest I wouldn't have cast as a bad guy in the first place.

What this all boils down to is that "Clockstoppers" is an entertaining little movie which work for its target audience of children. But for anyone over the age of 16 it will probably be a dull experience full of plot holes and familiar story elements.