Clockstoppers is a fairly interesting sci-fi idea from a company mostly known for cartoons about pants wearing sponges and green glop meant for sliming. So it’s really no surprise at all that this particular company, Nickelodeon by name, managed to take that mildly interesting idea and use it as an excuse for excessive bike riding.
In Clockstoppers, Zak Gibbs is the son of an acclaimed scientist, who stumbles upon his father’s greatest invention, “hyper time”. With the aid of a deceptively innocent looking wristwatch, Zak's molecular structure is accelerated beyond the constraints of linear time. As a result, it appears as though time has stopped, but he keeps moving. Since he is clearly a member of Nickelodeon’s target demographic, Zak uses this newfound power to pull down people’s pants, pick up hot exchange students, and play tricks on meter maids. Only an attack on his family and danger to himself prompts him to do something more useful with his father’s invention.
I had hoped director Jonathan Frakes (yes, THAT Jonathan Frakes) might make something more out of this than the usual Nickelodeon pre-teen fare. The concept is interesting, and the trailer did a solid job of showing off a fairly flashy array of eye-popping effects. Sadly, having seen the trailer, you’ve seen the best Clockstoppers has to offer. The “hyper time” effects are fun to watch, but there really aren’t all that many of them. Beyond those few interspersed minutes of water stopped in mid-drip and skateboarders suspended in mid-jump, Clockstoppers has practically nothing in its bag of film tricks.
Our heroes are boring and poorly developed, with little to recommend them in any sense, let alone make them worthy of Hollywood screen time. There is some attempt at child/parent conflict, all of which is badly placed and barely relevant. Frakes throws in an obligatory token black kid, who says a few funny things and dances. There’s a hot babe for our hero Zak to lust after, who does little other than rebuff him and subsequently give in to his every whim. Then there’s Zak himself, a driving age teenager whose only clearly defined quality is his talent for bike riding, something which the film goes out of its way to make excuses for him to do.
The villains are laughable and pathetic, with blissfully unclear goals and even more boring motives. French Stewart bounces around here, in between villain and bike riding hero, fighting to be wacky, and instead coming off painfully incontinent. When the well-dressed assortment of baddies invariably loses, we’re really not sure it mattered, since even they seemed less than certain what it was they were attempting to do.
The flashy “hyper time” effects are fun to watch and I suppose the film itself is just bland enough to be harmless. But those delightful digital bobbles aren’t plentiful enough to justify Clockstoppers, even as mindless, eye-candy-fun.
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