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Paramount Studios presents

Clockstoppers (2002)

George Gibbs: Let's just say, hypothetically speaking, it were possible to accelerate your molecular structure until the rest of the world seemed it was standing still.
Zak Gibbs: Cool!- Robin Thomas, Jesse Bradford

Stars: Jesse Bradford, Paula Garces
Other Stars: French Stewart, Michael Biehn, Robin Thomas, Julia Sweeney, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Lindze Letherman
Director: Jonathan Frakes

MPAA Rating: PG for some action violence and mild language
Run Time: 01h:33m:50s
Release Date: 2002-08-13
Genre: action comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-B+A- B-


DVD Review

In this PG-13 and up world, you don't often see many decent live action PG films; heck, even Disney's animated Lilo & Stitch had a PG rating. It is rarer still to find one that is as simplistically entertaining as Clockstoppers, without becoming dull, smarmy pap. In this latest directorial project from Star Trek vet Jonathan Frakes, there is no sex, no nudity, minimal smooching, a couple of mild (emphasis on "mild") swear words and the only weapons fired are modified paintball guns that shoot liquid nitrogen. What it lacks in depth it does have in some snazzy The Matrix-influenced special effects and a pre-teen-friendly pop soundtrack, all mixed together into one big colorful package.

Through a series of convenient events, scheming teen Zak Gibbs (Bring It On's Jesse Bradford) accidently discovers a high-tech watch that allows the wearer to alter their molecular structure and enter "hypertime", which is a fancy way of saying that the world seems to stand still. Once in hypertime, you can walk around normally while everything else seems to be frozen in place, not unlike what I experience when I go into my local White Castle to eat. The watch is the creation of Earl Doppler (French Stewart), a former student of Zak's physics professor dad, George (Robin Thomas). Zak's super cute love interest is the belly-shirt wearing Francesca (Paula Garces), and the two are quickly involved in a series of chases as an evil governmental agency, led by the villainous Gates (a soul-patched Michael Biehn), desperately hunts for the watch.

A film like this can live or die on the strength of its visual effects, and Clockstoppers employs a number of well-executed sequences, including a great hypertime car chase scene late in the story. During the chase, Zak and Francesca are pursued by a pair of bad guys and only their two vehicles are moving, while the rest of the traffic is frozen in a blur of headlights and taillights. It's a fun sequence that Frakes stages well, and he even includes the old crash-through-a-newstand bit, only this time the effects of hypertime cause the papers to remain seemingly frozen in mid-air. This doesn't look like a cheaply made film by any means, and the effects hold their own, even if some elements of the plot trudge along predictably.

I'm sure there are some holes in the proposed theories of physics presented in Clockstoppers, but I think picking that apart is somewhat petty. Who cares that, when Zak enters hyper-hypertime, it is explained that he will pass through solid objects, yet he is able to grab a bad guy by the head and smash him against the wall? This is light, fluffy entertainment designed for pre-teens, embedded with a series of impressive visual moments, it's not science class.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Paramount has issued Clockstoppers in a beautiful 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a bright print with excellent image detail, and colors appear quite vivid and robust, while fleshtones retain natural hues. Black levels are solid and shadow depth is also represented well. I was aware of some minor edge haloing, but it was not to the point of distraction.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: A very aggressively mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the highlight of the audio options on this disc. Rear channels get a real workout, from the impressive opening credit sequence through the big, noisy finale. Paramount has created an enveloping soundfield for Clockstoppers, one that sounds best LOUD, and the 5.1 really conveys that experience more so than the timid 2.0 English surround mix. The 2.0 lacks the deep bass rumble of the 5.1, and some of the scenes look and sound lifeless in comparison.

A French 2.0 surround track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music videos
Extras Review: Paramount has gone a little light on the extras, offering a brief The Making of Clockstoppers (10m:38s) as the anchor. This promotional piece essentially recaps the entire movie, via clips, and features a few comments from the principal cast and crew. The last few minutes offer some insight into some of the effects shots, and that was far more interesting than a simple rehash of the film I just watched.

Two music videos are also included on this disc. Smashmouth does the catchy Holiday In My Head, which is a full-frame video that incorporates the band into scenes from the film, while Lil J does a very annoying rap song called It's the Weekend, and it is sadly presented in widescreen format.

Four 30-second promotional spots that ran on Nickelodeon in March 2002 feature:
Zak and Francesca

Sixteen chapters, a theatrical trailer and English subtitles conclude the supplements.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

I'm no physics professor, so I don't want to debate the proposed science in Clockstoppers. It's a fun family film, with enough action and trippy visuals to placate the pre-teen set easily enough. Paramount has included an exceptional 5.1 mix on this disc, too, so it's fun to listen to if nothing else.

Recommended as a no-brainer family night rental.

Rich Rosell 2002-08-21