Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Forever Young (1992)

This is a romance drama / sci-fi written and produced by Jeffrey Abrams (JJ Abrams). It's basically a Rip Van Winkle story about a guy in 1939 who ends up volunteering for some advanced cryogenic experiment, gets frozen, and wakes up in 1992.

The story manages to avoid most of those hackneyed anachronistic encounters of a guy who's misplaced in time; it really sticks to the romance, emotions, and characters, and this guy's quest to find his old friends from 1939. The film has the feel of a Spielberg film, particularly ET, which was produced a decade earlier. It’s sentimental, almost sappy. It's commercial -- very much so -- and tries to appeal to multiple demographics. Jerrald Goldsmith, who scored Logan’s Run (which was last week’s Film of the Week), created the exceptional score for this movie, and overall it’s a well produced film. Some of the plot points seemed forced and unrealistic, placed in the story simply to create tension, not uncommon for a Hollywood film.

With Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead roles, the acting is world class, although neither of those actors completely disappear into their roles. Elijah Wood also has a major role and gives a great performance as the ten-year-old son of Curtis’ character. Isabel Glasser plays Gibson’s character’s love interest, but oddly doesn’t get as much screen time as the other leads.

There's only one black character in the film (Joe Morton), a researcher who was portrayed as antagonistic and in this story was unable to figure out the design of the cryogenic apparatus that was created by a white character (George Wendt) fifty years earlier. This type of depiction of black characters was typical of films produced prior to the Rodney King beating and LA riots which broke out just as initial filming for this film was wrapping up. Other than that, I saw no other significant bias or racial stereotypes.

As far as technology, there wasn’t much, basically just the cryro-chamber, which had a steam-punk design that was out of place for the pre-war time period.

Overall the film is worth watching, just don’t expect much in terms of science fiction gadgetry, aliens, spaceships, etc.

accessible image description:

movie poster with Mel Gibson’s face covering most of the poster and a small image of Gibson and Isabel Glasser embracing and kissing.

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