Basically, it's London in 1893, H.G. has just built a time machine, but has yet to try it out. Before he can, Jack steals it to escape the coppers, lands in 1979 San Francisco and quickly gets up to his old bad ways. H.G. realizes what has happened and tracks him down (the time machine automatically returns home to whoever has a certain key). Amy helps him in his endeavors.
Much of the fun here is Wells' befuddlement at all of the strange things 1979 has to offer. The future is certainly not the utopia he had imagined. Along the way he meets Amy and strikes up a mutual interest. McDowell is cast perfectly for this and you feel for him and his predicament. This was one of Steenburgen's first major rolls and she's very likeable as well. Warner does a terrific job as the Ripper - he's mean and arrogant and finds that 1979 suits him just fine. A great musical score, by long-time film composer Miklos Rozsa, adds a nice ambience and enhances the action. This was Nicholas Meyer's first directorial effort and he succeeds winningly. He had previously written the excellent "Seven Percent Solution", and subsequently would direct "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".