The Grand Tour (Timescape)
Dir. David Twohy (1991)
A father and daughter who are renovating a motel receive mysterious visitors before its finished, revealing strange details about their new hometown and their neighbors.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Immediately off of his legendary role in Arachnophobia, Jeff Daniels stars alongside Jurassic Park’s Ariana Richards about mysterious tourists who may or may not be from the future. David Twohy, who is more known for writing and directing the Chronicles of Riddick films and for writing The Fugitive and the renowned flop Waterworld, helms this film based on the story Vintage Season by Lawrence O’Donnell (a pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore.) It’s a brilliant idea, that travelers from the future visit times in the past to observe great historical disasters, and the fallout that this could have on the people who interact with them during their visits. These people, in this case Daniels, Richards and the townsfolk who live around them, are completely unaware that their town is about to undergo a disaster. That is, of course, until Daniels learns the reason for his visitors’ appearance, and he and the audience are both waiting to see what the eventual catastrophe will be. The movie has had several different titles, so you may even know if by its original title Timescape or even Grand Tour: Disaster in Time.
Daniels is fantastic, which shouldn’t be surprising because he’s fucking amazing in everything. Richards was a particularly adept child actress, one who it’s a shame we didn’t see more from, and she’s perhaps even more believable in this role than in Jurassic Park (though that was clearly the better movie.) Grand Tour was lost to time and is just now getting a restoration from Unearthed Films that will hopefully help a new audience discover the film. Twohy’s adaptation of the story is excellent, great practice for his later works that stand out as some of the more entertaining scifi films in recent memory. It’s particularly well-done science fiction, one that adequately explains the universe in which it exists and the various differences between it and the real world. It's not inherently unbelievable, as these kinds of tours would 100% exist if time travel were real (and that’s even assuming that it isn’t already in the future.) As someone who lacks a true appreciation for the genre, it’s always nice when I’m able to connect with a science fiction film in the same way that I do horror.
The new Unearthed Classics line that they’re releasing is an interesting idea, especially since most of the films included in the lineup still fit fairly well with their normal filmography. I previously reviewed Evil Dead Trap 2, which felt like an Unearthed movie, and No Escape, which absolutely didn’t, but I love this idea of releasing relatively unknown movies that aren’t exclusively gory, horrifically disturbing horror. It sets the label apart from a lot of others, which are either completely scattershot with their releases or hyper-focused on one particular genre, and as a connoisseur of physical media, any ability to get movies that were previously unavailable is a huge win for collectors. For that alone, Unearthed deserves all the support in the world for their efforts. The fact that the movies are legitimately great makes them even more worthy of acclaim. All three of the films that I’ve watched from the line, of which they’ve already had seven releases, were fantastic, genre staples with some fantastic filmmaking and storytelling. The Grand Tour fits perfectly into that lineup, and it’s a truly excellent movie that I have to admit I had never even heard of before they sent me a screener.
The Grand Tour is a creative take on time travel genre and an even more creative take on the concept of altering the future by altering the past, a time travel staple that is so overdone as to be often annoying. It also deals very well with the time loop considerations, which is something that a lot of time travel movies struggle with. It speaks to Twohy’s abilities as a writer to keep things straight, or at least his abilities in coherently transcribing O’Donnell’s story. I haven’t read the story, so I don’t know how closely all of the pieces relate, but The Grand Tour is competently told, the effects are impressively done, and of course Daniels makes for a stellar lead in an already interesting movie. This is definitely one to be recommended for anyone who is even a basic science fiction fan.
Who this movie is for: Scifi fans, Time travel lovers, Vacationers with bad timing
Bottom line: The Grand Tour is excellent, a fascinating take on time travel and the potential consequences of the ability to go back in time. Jeff Daniels and Ariana Richards are awesome, and writer/director David Twohy does a fantastic job with this one. As the third film I’ve reviewed from Unearthed Films’ Classics line, I’m starting to think that the line will be even better than their regular filmography, which is already incredibly impressive. I highly recommend checking the movie out, and if you’re a physical media fanatic like me, grab your copy, or even better pre-order it, at https://www.unearthedfilms.com/store.php