Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Just enough of Michael Crichton's novel survives in Timeline to make it a passable popcorn thriller. It's likely that Crichton fans will lament the shallowness of director Richard Donner's film, and its gee-whiz style of a... more »
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THE BOOK WAS BETTER...WAY BETTER...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 05/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is based upon Michael Crichton's marvelous best selling book of the same name. When I first heard that a film was in the making, I was really looking forward to viewing it, as I absolutely loved the book. That it was in the theatres for just about the blink of an eye, however, gave me the idea something might be wrong with it. Having viewed it, I now fully understand why its sojourn in theatres was relatively brief.Unfortunately, the film bears little resemblance to the author's finely crafted time travel tale. Jeff Maguire, having written a screenplay that seeks the lowest common denominator, just about destroys the author's work, reducing it to an almost incomprehensible piece of drivel. The screenplay takes a five star book and turns into a film that barely rates three stars. Here, a young group of archaeologists and historians are excavating the ruins of a fourteenth century feudal town in France, which excavation is funded by the International Technology Corp (ITC), a well-heeled, corporate giant. Some of the archeological finds are puzzling, as they seem to be anomalous to the time period. Moreover, the leader of the archaeological dig, Professor Johnson (Billy Connelly), has suddenly headed back to the states to ITC headquarters, and they are unable to get in touch with him. They are then all summoned to ITC headquarters by Robert Doniger (David Thewlis), the head of ITC.At ITC, they are told that the Professor has been transported by ITC back to fourteenth century France through a worm hole that ITC has inadvertently discovered. Unfortunately, the professor has not returned, and ITC wishes to send them back in time through the wormhole to help with the rescue of the Professor. It appears that their help is needed in order to navigate the intricacies of medieval life. One of them, Chris (Paul Walker), is the Professor's own son, so he needs no urging, Besides, he has a crush on one of his colleagues, Kate (Frances O'Connor), who is also ready to roll. Another, Andre Marek (Gerard Butler), is a romantic in love with a bygone time, and he. too, has no problem in going through the wormhole and landing in fourteenth century France. You know the screenplay is bad, however, when Francois, the only one who is reluctant to go through the wormhole, is told that he is needed because he is the only one who speaks French, as if the French spoken today were the same as that spoken in fourteenth century medieval France! This would have been a line better left unsaid, as we all know that the French and English spoken today bear little resemblance to that spoken in early medieval times. It is a piece of information about which viewers always automatically suspend belief. Garbed in clothing that is constructed to resemble that which the people of the fourteenth century would wear and carrying time travel markers that will enable them to return home, they go through the wormhole. When our intrepid time travelers, led by ITC security chief Frank Gordon (Neal McDonough), arrive in fourteenth Century France, they are immediately set upon by a marauding bunch of armored English knights, wherein their ranks are immediately thinned. They proceed into the town, where their ranks are further thinned. There, they find the Professor, when they are auspiciously imprisoned with him. Kate, who has excellent climbing ability, manages to help them all escape. They then split up, with Marek, incurable romantic that he is, forging on in his own way to help the Lady Clare (Anna Friel), a French noble woman whose fate spurs Marek on to acts of great chivalry. They are all brought together for the historic battle between the English and the French over control of the town. There, the English are led by the ruthless and evil Lord Oliver (Michael Sheen), aided by a rogue knight named De Kere (Marton Csokas), who is really none other than a transplanted ITC employee. Marek finds himself fighting against the English in order to save the Lady Clare and makes a split second decision that will forever change his life.The production values in the film are excellent and the direction is fine, as it is directed by none other than Richard Donner (The Omen, Lethal Weapon, Superman). The battle over the town provides some terrific action scenes. The actors themselves are also fine. They all do their best with the little with which they have to work. In the leading man category, however, Paul Walker is bested by Gerard Butler who is engaging as the romantic hero, Andre Marek. In the leading lady category, Anna Friel shines as Lady Clare, besting Frances O'Connor. The problem is that their is little chemistry between Paul Walker and Frances O'Connor. There is, however, chemistry between Gerard Butler and Anna Friel. Unfortunately, they are all done in by the simply dreadful screenplay for which Jeff Maguire should be flogged. If one rabidly enjoys medieval festivals and/or time travel stories, or if one loved the book upon which this film is based, then one will garner a modicum of enjoyment out of this film. If not, deduct one star from my rating. In any case, all who are inclined to see this film should rent, rather than buy, it."
Robert Graves | Thompson Station, TN USA | 02/01/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Because I loved this book so much I was expecting very little from the movie. That's how it generally works with Michael Crichton, and I've learned my lesson after Congo, Sphere, and Lost World, all great books and poor movies. And even with making such low demands on the film, it still topped them all. This is possibly Crichton's best novel and definitely the worst adaptation, maybe the worst adaptation of any popular fiction book ever.Timeline failed on every level which a movie can fail. The acting was atrocious by just about everyone who had the misfortune to be involved, the adaptation is a shred of what the original story is, the dialogue sounded as though it were made up on the spot by the actors, the 14th century realism was on the level of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and the casting couldn't have been worse if you'd been trying. The whole movie had a low budget feel to it, producing a result I would've expected ten or fifteen years ago before audiences really cared. The movie (not the novel) is about several archeologist/graduate students who travel back in time to rescue their professor who's been trapped in 14th century France. They only have six hours to do it or else they're forever stuck there. Nobody can go back and rescue them after their six hours have expired, despite the fact that that's exactly what they are doing to the professor. Once they have journeyed back in time things start to go predictably wrong in the past and in the present. Using their knowledge of history, the archeology kids manipulate the armies of England and France while trying to fix various anachronisms they've introduced and not create new ones in the process. There's love, war, even unintentional comedy. What more could you ask for in a film?Answers below.1. Acting - I'm going to just say it: Paul Walker (Chris) is the worst male actor I've ever seen in a major-budget movie. Hands down. Worse than Keanu, worse than Vin Diesel. The only thing that helps him in this movie is Frances O'Connor (Katie) who is, amazingly, even worse. What makes it so unbearable is that the storyline keeps Paul and Frances together for most of the movie, so we get to see these two gems with no one else on screen to hide behind. In the spirit of honesty, I have to say that I've seen better acting in porn. I hope for the sake of film that Paul Walker isn't the flavor of the month long enough to ruin more potentially good films, not that Timeline is really in that category.2. Plot - The adaptation of Timeline drastically departed from Crichton's novel and in all the wrong directions. I realize that certain aspects must be changed from a book to make the movie work, but there's a certain point at which the story can become so severely mangled that any reason for the story existing in the first place is gone. That's what happened to Timeline. Why was Timeline a huge bestselling novel? Because it was the first technically plausible time-travel story that we'd ever read. It combined detailed fact with fiction in the seamless way only Crichton can do it. And it painted a realistic picture of how such technology might be exploited if they were developed. Without that, it's just another brainless sci-fi story. Now here's the point - *none of those things made it into the movie!* That's what made it great, and none of it's there. The result is a convoluted mess that is hard to follow even if you know the rough storyline.3. Realism - Director Richard Donnor made it a point in an interview to state that he was going to favor actual sets instead of special effects. I'm all for this generally - if you're actually going to put some work and money into it. One problem that epics such as Braveheart and Lord of the Rings have created is that half-hearted offerings such as Timeline are pallid and limp next to them. Half a dozen English soldiers clumsily drawing their swords while dramatic music plays just isn't going to cut it. Nor are "night arrows," which, though I'm not a history expert, I'm pretty certain never existed as a legitimate military threat, certainly not on the cunning level of warfare mastery with which they are depicted in Timeline. And the "If we don't leave it here then we'll never find it in the future!" moments give me another reason to cite Bill and Ted as a comparison.If Michael Crichton wants a good movie made out of one of his books, apparently he's going to have to write the screenplay himself as he did with Jurassic Park. I understand that he pioneered a new kind of contract with Timeline, accepting a percentage of the Box Office in lieu of a set dollar amount. I have to wonder how he felt about that decision after seeing the first cut of this epic disaster."
A Great Book Gets Butchered Again
Randy B. Yates | Battle Creek, MI USA | 11/27/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I went to see the first showing of Timeline today and all I can say is I should have stayed home and cleaned the toilet I would have enjoyed the time much better. I am a big fan of Mr. Crichtons books and always am at the bookstore the first day whenever a new one arrives (Sorry Amazon). I read Timeline and was not let down it was great and painted the story as only he could. Therefore, I anticipated that movie and when it came out today, I bought my ticket and corn, sat in my chair centered in the middle of the theater and was insulted with a 119-minute ambush or crap. The storyline was a vague interpretation of the book if the screenwriter was on a three day drunk. There was no story set up they assumed you read the book. The high-tech toys were poor and not true to the book and the mid evil times are better depicted at a junior high school theater group. The actors lean too much on regional dialect and poor acting is ramped. My suggestion is to re-read the book and let your mind paint the picture."
Not such a bad adaption after all...
Mr Man | USA | 04/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While it has been a while since I have read the book, "Timeline" was just one of those stories I truly enjoyed. The movie, while omitting some parts of the novel, actually follows the general plot of the book. A few changes are made to the beginning and end, but overall the actual storyline is similar to the novel. Many of the parts cut out of the book are actually parts that, given the cast, are better left out. The majority of these scenes involved the character Chris, played by Paul Walker. Luckily, the movie does not make him the main character like he was in the book. The less screen time of Paul is definately better. My favourite character in the book, Andre Marek, is excellently portrayed by Gerard Butler and he saves the film from being completely worthless. Anna Friel as Lady Claire as well as other supporting characters are also great performances.I understand why many would not like the movie since there are many others in a similar genre. For me, I have never really been into these kind of movies and while I am an avid Crichton reader, I did not read this book when it came out due to it's subject matter. When I finally decided to read the book on a flight, it became my second favourite next to "Jurassic Park". This was the first film I really saw about medieval times, and even though the movie could have been better, I enjoyed it. I think this was because I love the story so much and the movie was not a total detour from this story.A few points to make that many people seem to nit-pick about:1. The fact that they changed Chris' character to be the son of the professor instead of his student is not a big deal. Also, I don't see why it isn't plausable that he could not be the son of a Scottish professor just because he is American. This is the stupidest argument I have ever heard since I know many people who are American and have foreign parents!2. Yes, the fact they spoke American when they went back in time was definately unplausable, however, I would have preferred this than to see subtitles the whole movie. This was made from a sci-fi novel, it was not mean to be an ultimately realistic or overly historically accurate movie. They should have kept the earpieces from the book in though to explain it.Overall, I really like the movie, and think people should give it a try. While it's definately not perfect, it is fun and keeps fairly true to the book."