Micheal C. Poole’s “The Machine” seems to be the first in a planned series, and like all mediocre pilot episodes, the plot mainly consists of expository dialogue. Add to that the fact that this is a piece on time travel and you’re in for a confusing, dialogue heavy, mind bending, and yet very boring short film.
Not being a time travel expert, my knowledge of the film’s accuracy is limited, though it seems that Poole did his homework. But viewer interest in the film is dependent on plot questions: Who is this mysterious man from the future (past???) who has come to see Eric Cornelius? And why has he come to see him now? Of course, being a pilot episode, we never find out the answer to those key questions. That worked for David Lynch when he crafted the mysterious “Twin Peaks,” but it doesn’t work when your pilot’s poor construction prevents my interest from flowering.
Two men sit on a bench discussing time travel. In order to pull off a scene that’s entirely dependent on delivery, the acting really needs to be perfect, but the performances are stilted and the dialogue doesn’t help. That’s why every Screenwriting 101 instructor tells students to use a minimal amount of dialogue. These aren’t professionals and you need to treat them that way.
“The Machine” feels very much like a Screenwriting 101 project. It’s a great effort, but one with a concept that was too big for its production value.
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I wish this dialogue was going on during the course of the characters DOING SOMETHING.