Directed by Jonathan Frakes, starring Jesse Bradford, Paula Garces, Gariyaki Mutambirwa, Robin Thomas, French Stewart, Michael Biehn.

A pleasantly diverting sci-fi film for kids 'Clockstoppers' might even see the parents crack a smile or two but it's no 'Spy Kids'. This one's about a pair of teenagers who have to prevent an evil government contractor from getting his hands on a time-stopping invention.

Zak Gibbs (Bradford) is your typical argumentative bike-riding guitar-playing high school student - that is until he accidentally acquires a watch that can send him so quickly through time that everything around him is standing still. This "hypertime" watch is part of a top secret experiment that his science professor dad (Thomas) is working on with an former student, but there are ruthless people determined to get their hands on the invention. This doesn't stop Zak initially using it to impress Francesca (Garces), the Venezuelian foreign student that he's got a crush on and the pair have fun playing tricks on bullies, traffic wardens and helping their friend win a dj-ing contest. But when Zak's father is kidnapped by evil government contractor Henry Gates (Biehn) Zak and Francesca have to use the watch - and their wits - to rescue him and save the world...

Although it tries hard to be a 'Matrix'-lite for kids, 'Clockstoppers' lacks originality, imagination and any hint of danger. There are no real guns - just liquid nitrogen shooters which bring the hypertimers back to real time, the idea of stopping time and its voyeuristic implications is never fully explored, and the obligatory chase scenes are formulaic and bland. Jessie Bradford is a likeable, although slightly too old looking (at 23), as the teenage slacker who becomes a hero but is nearly eclipsed by Paula Garces who can lay a villain out with her lethal ballet kicks.

'Clockstoppers' does have moments of charm but in the main it is routine and forgettable. More watch-on-video than rush-to-the-cinema.

Caroline Hennessy