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Film: Time Chasers
Time Chasers (aka Tangents) is a 1994 science fiction film that follows the adventures of an amateur inventor who goes through time with his female accomplice to stop an evil megacorporation intent on changing history for profit.

Physics teacher and amateur pilot Nick Miller has finally completed his quest of enabling time travel, via a Commodore 64 and his small airplane. With a teacher's salary, however, this has left him almost bankrupt, but an ominous television commercial for a company called GenCorp inspires him to seek funding from the private enterprise. Nick uses a ruse to bring both a GenCorp executive and a reporter from a local paper on a trip through time, but is pleasantly surprised to learn that his old high school flame, Lisa Hansen, is the reporter in question. One unimpressive trip to 2041 later and Gencorp's executive, the fashionable Matthew Paul, quickly arranges Nick a meeting with the company's transparently evil CEO, J.K. Robertson. Impressed by the potential of time travel, Roberston offers Nick a licensing agreement on the technology, over Lisa's misgivings.

Still, the reporter agrees to go on a date with Nick, and the couple enjoys a quick trip to a '50s malt shop before going back to 2041, which is suddenly a total dump. After a close encounter with two bands of wasteland survivors, Nick and Lisa confront Robertson, who stubbornly refuses to not destroy the future and tries to get them arrested. The heroes escape and attempt to go back in time to convince Nick's past self not to give GenCorp the time travel technology, and things become much more complicated.

Turns out Roberston and Paul have a second time transport, and attack Nick and Lisa's plane on arrival in the near-past. Lisa is killed and the plane brought down, so Future-Nick tries to get to Past-Nick before Future-Robertson can. Past-Lisa is diverted from Past-Nick's demonstration and ends up investigating Future-Lisa's death in a plane crash, then she and Past-Nick meet up and start time traveling to figure out what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, Future-Robertson and Future-Paul abduct Future-Nick (and a gormless mechanic) and inexplicably take them back to the Revolutionary War to kill them.

Luckily Past-Nick and Lisa show up with some minutemen to save the day, only for Future-Robertson to counter them with Redcoats, and things really go to hell. Future-Nick is killed thwarting Future-Robertson's escape attempt, leaving all the future duplicates dead, and creating enough of a time paradox to ensure that Past-Nick destroys his invention before it can do any damage, thus undoing the events of the film. On the upside, Nick and Lisa meet in a grocery store. On the downside, Nick and Lisa get an innocent man fired from his job, presumably ruining his life.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Tropes used in Time Chasers:

  • Aliens in Cardiff: Vermont. Yes, Vermont. Of course, the film was produced by a video editing service based in Vermont, who decided to try their hands at filmmaking.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Castleton State College, of which Nick sports his iconic shirt, is a real school in Vermont.
  • Artistic License - Medicine: Lisa's body is identified by dental records. Except, unlike something like fingerprints, there actually isn't any master repository of dental records; to get them, you first need to have some idea who the person is so you can get the records from their dentist. And seeing as the Lisa of this timeline is still alive, it doesn't seem likely they would think it was her.
  • Bad Future: The villain uses his own time machine to cause this. Not so much bad as messy.
  • Brick Joke: The skydiving granny.
  • Click Hello: How Nick first encounters survivors in the bad 2041.
  • Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: Nick could have just used the compound interest to pay for his plane and never need to make a deal with an evil corporation or share it with anyone else. When the corporate stooge comes up with the idea, Nick and Lisa have a bizarrely disgusted reaction, as if the guy had proposed something ghastly and evil. This was likely intended to prevent this plot hole from rendering the rest of the plot moot.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: JK Robertson. In fact, his face, voice, posture, his entire demeanor, is so forthrightly villainous from the moment he first appears on screen, and it bears out when he discovers that he has destroyed the future, and refuses to not destroy the future. While he does comment to Nick that he is aware of the Bad Future and intends to avoid it, before he dies he expresses that he doesn't understand Nick's obsession with saving the world when he could have just escaped into the past and lived away from it - suggesting that J.K. was probably planning to do just that and not deal with the consequences of his actions.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Nick steals a car... and promptly crashes it.
    Nick: I don't drive!
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: After crashing JK's plane and stranding them both in the past, Nick is shot dead by Robertson - who is then promptly killed by falling plane wreckage. All within the space of 10 seconds.
  • Empty Fridge Empty Life: Nick Miller's fridge is empty except for a head of lettuce (of indeterminate age).
    Crow: Loser status confirmed.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Lisa's business attire.
  • Future Badass: First timeline Nick from second timeline Nick's perspective. Sort of.
  • Genius Bruiser: Subverted - Nick looks like a bodybuilding nerd, but gets beat up fairly easily and doesn't seem nearly as smart as inventing the time machine would imply.
  • Help Yourself In The Future: Thanks to Split Screen technology.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Nick steals a car and immediately crashes it because he doesn't drive cars. He does better on the bicycle he steals next.
  • Historical In-Joke: The major Revolutionary battle in Vermont was the Battle of Cowpens, which was covered by Alan Alda's Sweet Liberty and Mel Gibson's The Patriot.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not a time machine, it's a time transport.
  • Is That a Threat?: Delivered by Robertson when Nick tells him he's going to pull his out of their deal.
  • Karma Houdini: J.K. Robertson of the movie's first timeline does actually get killed in the process of trying to screw over time, but the J.K. of the final timeline actually gets off scott-free while Nick gets Matt fired, despite Matt being a generally okay person that gets dragged into JK's evil in the film's first timeline, and a perfectly fine individual with the rotten luck of getting screwed by Nick in the final timeline.
    • Being fired is better than death, as Nick tells Matt, which must have sounded like a cryptic statement to Matt.
    • And technically speaking, JK of the new timeline didn't do anything for karma to bite him
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Nick Miller. When he makes out with Lisa.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Eight of them hold the key to time travel!
  • Obviously Evil: JK Robertson. His favorite outfit is a pitch black suit with blood red tie, and he practically oozes smarm at all times.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Near the end of the movie, when Nick forces Robertson's plane to crash into a tree, we're treated to a two-minute scene of Nick slowly climbing down as the plane creaks and threatens to fall. As soon as he gets to the ground, Robertson comes out from around the tree like it was no big deal.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Several of the principal characters are killed in the course of the film... except that because there are multiple timelines active, the final timeline sees all of these characters survive and thus preventing time paradox duplicates from running around and ruining things.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: It involves a lot of planes, for starters.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: J.K. loves these.
    • Before shooting Matt: "Matt? You're fired." (Uzi!)
    • Before shooting Nick: "Connect me to this! (Glock!)"
      • ...sadly, he dies a few seconds later. And too suddenly to try and deliver one of these to himself.
  • Precision F-Strike: The film's only swear happens when J.K., trying to escape a small squad of minutemen Nick has tricked into believing he is a British spy, ends up running into the entire colonial army.
    J.K.: Oh SHIT!
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: It makes no sense for Nick to sabotage Matt's career and get him fired from GenCorp when he has a time machine. He could just go back in time and stop Matt from ever seeing it, thus allowing him to continue leading a good life. It's implied that Matt's better off without a Bad Boss like JK Robertson, but losing a top-level job at a major corporation due to gross incompetence would make it very hard to get a new job.
  • Punch Clock Villain: When Lisa fakes an imminent plane crash, GenCorp mooks rush off to offer assistance, allowing Nick to sneak into the airport.
    • Actually, they were ordered to by airport security, and one of them remained to deal with Nick.
  • Reality Ensues: One of its saving graces. Nick is the film's action hero but he's just a physics professor who rides a bike everywhere and flies planes. So he can run around real good but isn't much good in a fight and crashes a car moments after stealing it during a chase.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Matthew Paul, action executive and often seen wearing a bright pink suit. Subverted in that he's mostly a wuss. Though our action hero wears a pink button down for part of the movie.
  • Reverse Polarity: How the plane travels back through time... apparently.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Nick learns that his time travel technology and the sale of it to J.K. Robertson will cause havoc on the world and destroy it within the next fifty years due to its abuse. He and Lisa attempt to find a way to prevent the event from happening, creating the conflict of the film.
  • Shout-Out: When Nick and Lisa are walking through the post-apocalyptic Vermont, a torn Back to the Future poster can clearly be seen on one of the walls.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: After Nick's big speech about how everyone is connected, JK shoots him dead.
  • Take Our Word for It: We only see a grainy, computer-screen image of future Vermont's magnificent skyline, while Lisa comments that "it looks like there was a war here" in the bad future, despite a conspicuous lack of rubble, craters, bullet holes, bodies, derelict tanks... clearly, the film didn't have the budget for anything else.
  • Technology Marches On: I miss my Commodore 64.
  • Temporal Paradox: Actively sought out by the protagonist to keep everything from going wrong, though he refers to them as "tangents."
  • Time Travel: Kinda the whole point, really.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Future-Nick, who loses his glasses and watches his girlfriend get shot and blown up, is considerably more hardened by the end of the movie than his past-self. Tragically, it's this version of him that dies.
  • Train Escape: Done with a tractor and wagon.
  • Universal Driver's License: Parodied. Nick attempts to steal a car in order to escape pursuers who are driving a truck... then immediately wipes out because he doesn't actually know how to drive.
  • Verb This!: Connect Me To This!
  • Write What You Know: The film takes place in Rutland, Vermont, director David Giancola's hometown. Locally, it was billed as the first film "made in Vermont, by Vermonters." Giancola still maintains his company, Edgewood Studios, in Rutland, and most of his subsequent films have been made, if not set, there.
  • You Have Failed Me: When Matt won't commit murder for his boss, his boss kills Matt.

This Island EarthMystery Science Index 3000 Time of the Apes
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alternative title(s): Time Chasers
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