Until now, Zak Gibbs' greatest challenge has been finding a way to buy a car. But when he discovers an odd wristwatch amidst his father's various inventions and slips it on, something very strange happens. The world around him seemingly comes to a stop; giving the effect that everyone has come to a stop. Zak quickly learns how to manipulate the device, and he and his quick-witted, beautiful new friend, Francesca, have some real fun. What they soon realize, though, is they are not alone in hypertime.
Directed by: Jonathan Frakes
. Starring: Jesse Bradford
, French Stewart
, Paula Garcés
, Michael Biehn
, Robin Thomas
, Garikayi Mutambirwa
, Julia Sweeney
, Lindze Letherman
, Jason George
, Linda Kim
, Ken Jenkins
, Esperanza Catubig
, Jennifer Manley
. Music by: Jamshied Sharifi
"Clockstoppers," brought to us by Nickelodeon Movies and helmed by "Star Trek" alumnus Jonathan Frakes, is a prime example of an auspicious premise that goes flat faster than a set of Firestone tires. It's like a wad of bubble gum; the longer you stretch it out, the thinner and weaker it becomes. The much-recycled storyline about the accidental discovery of a special gadget and the heroes who have to keep it out of the hands of the villains who want it for their evil purposes can only be stretched so far.
Somewhere, amidst the jumble of special effects, cliches, blatant absurdities and ethnic stereotypes, a comprehensible, logical plot got lost in the process. Despite the fact that this film is aimed at the young crowd, the plot of "Clockstoppers" will fly over kids' heads while leaving the older audience in the dark. Without the visual effects, this would probably wind up in the same ignominious 2002 class of awful films alongside "Resident Evil" and "Death to Smoochy."
"Clockstoppers" insults its audience, both young and old, with a cliche-loaded script. Zak Gibbs (a miscast Jesse Bradford, who, at age 23, is too old to be portraying a high school student) is your average suburbanite who can't get enough of performing bike tricks, strumming a flying-V guitar and butting heads with his scientist fathercollege professor, George (played by Robin Thomas, while Julia Sweeney portrays Zak's mother). As he takes out the trash one day, he stumbles across a magical watch that George had been working on after it was accidentally knocked into a garbage can, and soon discovers that it can send its wearer into "hypertime," meaning time and space around him suddenly freeze. It turns out that Zak is actually moving super-fast through time while his surroundings appear to be moving ver-r-r-y slowly, in the vein of Einstein's theory of relativity. Or something like that. (Never mind that Zak would be rapidly burned to a crisp like cheap bacon due to the resulting friction, but since it's a kiddie flick, we can't be bothered with such minute technicalities.)
Once Zak gets hold of the watch, there are the obligatory scenes of he and his buddies testing it out in mischievous ways, including getting revenge on a crotchety meter maid in a most unpleasant way.
Soon enough, we're introduced to the bad guy, Gates (Michael Biehn), who wants the watch for his own evil deeds, which are never really made clear. Now it's up to Zak and his friends, Francesca (Paula Garces) and Meeker (Garikayi Mutambirwa), to keep the watch out of his hands. Add to this already languid plot a kidnapping scene, the ridiculous usage of paintball guns to fire liquid nitrogen, and a confusing subplot regarding another scientist, Dr. Doppler (French Stewart), and it all adds up to a big headache.
Once again, here we have another annoying case of the kid clashing with the well-meaning parents. It's about time someone realized this schtick is about as appealing as a pile of used Pampers. This time it's simply because Zak keeps hedging George to buy him a new car, but George keeps sitting on it due to a project he's working on. Zak complains that he's always too busy with his work. Hey, bucko, he's working in order to put food on the table and to satisfy your selfish desires.
One of the worst parts of the film occurs at a DJ contest, where Meeker is an unadulterated embarrassment. (The record scratching is pretty lousy as well. Watch much better DJ-contest scenes in the 1992 Tupac Shakur movie "Juice." Now, back to our review already in progress.) Zak and Francesca use the watch to, naturally, help Meeker win the contest. Big surprise. Zak and Francesca move Meeker around in hypertime, including having him do a handstand on the turntable with one hand, which he uses to spin his records. Nobody in the audience is fazed whatsoever by such an outright violation of the laws of physics.
It's hard to fathom ethnic stereotypes playing a formidable part in a children's movie (amidst shameless product placements for Pepsi and Nikon cameras), yet it certainly does here. Francesca is very cold towards Zak right up until she discovers the powers of his watch. She's essentially nothing more than a gold-digger, always a positive image of Latino women. Meeker is the customary jive-talking, loud color-wearing Black kid, because all Black kids talk that way nowadays and still dress like TLC circa 1991. Two Caucasian boys, who serve as our heroes' temporary enemies until the main baddie comes along, are given the white trash treatment with dreadlocks, grunge outfits and facial piercings. (One of these guys has his nose ring affixed to the spokes of his bike as Zak experiments with the watch.) And, when Zak comes across two of Gates' agents who have broken into his house, one of them is an Asian woman who proceeds to madly karate chop and kick the air before attacking our heroes. It's somewhat disturbing, considering that kids are a very impressionable bunch.
Yes, the term became cliche eons ago, but "Clockstoppers" winds up falling way short of its potential and proves to be a disappointment. I genuinely wanted it to be a slam dunk, but it instead throws up an airball. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it in the least, but at the same time this serves as a sobering reminder that special effects alone cannot carry a movie, no matter how dazzling they are. If you're in desperate need of a time-travel fix, stick with the original "Back to The Future" while dodging its inferior sequels.
Review by Glacier571-3 from the Internet Movie Database.