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"It's almost as exciting as riding an elevator for several minutes, without the sensation of movement and the fun buttons to push."




The Masked Reviewer

Timeline, the latest movie to be based on a best-selling book by Michael Criton (does he write any other kind of book?) features a bunch of sexy archaeologists.  It wouldn't be giving too much away to say that the film deals with time travel.

The film is just another small piece in the giant heap of evidence that shows that archaeology is the singularly most exciting profession that exists, far surpassing astronaut, skydiving instructor, and condom quality assurance tester.  In fact, it's a little of each, with some kick-boxing, firearms training, and ancient Greek thrown in.  If archaeologists traveling through time isn't enough, consider the Indiana Jones movies, the Tomb Raider movies, and the Jurassic Park movies.  They've spawned eight movies.  Therefore, archaeology is where it's at.

Richard Donner is the man who directed Superman (1978), The Goonies (1985), and all of the Lethal Weapon films.  He also took the reins of this film (which is why the Masked Reviewer mentioned him).  One might almost think that he'd have some idea of what he was doing, until one sees Timeline.  It's not badly directed, but it stinks mightily of B movie.  Granted, Lethal Weapon isn't exactly Citizen Kane, but Richard Donner was always able to bring excitement and fun into his films.  They are sorely lacking in this movie.

First of all, there's no comic relief.  Do you always need comic relief?  The Masked Reviewer thinks that yes, you do.  And for those of you who are saying to yourselves "Then when is the Masked Reviewer going to say something funny?", the Masked Reviewer would suggest that you're very cruel.  Just because he wears a mask doesn't mean the Masked Reviewer doesn't have feelings.

And speaking of not have feelings, Timeline doesn't.  It doesn't have them, it doesn't deal with them, it doesn't evoke them.  It is a by-the-book action flick and the source material seems over done.  Many people will be able to figure out most of what happens very early on in the film.  For those of you who don't see it coming, don't worry...you won't miss much. 

The performances aren't all bad; Billy Connolly is fine and Gerard Butler (who starred earlier in the year in Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) tries to put something into a fairly bland character.  The two principle leads are Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious and The Faster and the Furiouser and Joy Ride) and Frances O'Connor (Windtalkers, Bedazzled, and a certain horrible film whose name won't be mentioned here).  For principle leads, they're not very exciting.  Frances O'Connor isn't interesting in anything she says or does, complemented perfectly by Paul Walker who isn't interesting in anything he says or does.  At least Paul Walker looks good, so his career should be fine.  The story pulls the characters along, but they have so many situations to react to that there's a lot of "That's bad!  Oh, no, what's this?"  And, the audience doesn't really seem to care.

Michael Sheen (who you may remember from Underworld) and Lambert Wilson (who you may remember as the Merovingian from the last two Matrix films) play guys who hate each other.  The film makes the French the good guys in a war.  Who wants to see that  in this day and age?   Besides, as Donald Rumsfeld pointed out, "Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without an accordion."  Please send your letters about French-hating to him.  The Masked Reviewer has no opinions on the French.

The good thing for Michael Crichton is that the book must be better than the film.  To put things in perspective, Jurassic Park was much better.  Disclosure was much better.  Heck, even Congo was better.  But then again, that featured talking monkeys.

Time travel is an interesting premise for a sci-fi film, though they didn't deal with any interesting sci-fi elements.  Modern people in a medieval world is an interesting premise, but they did nothing with that.  A bunch of people interacting in a room can be interesting, but it wasn't in this movie.  It was just flat in every imaginable way.  The urgency of the situations never translates to the audience.  Sadly, real life archaeology is much more exciting than Timeline.

Another note: subtitles.  There are some subtitles in the film when characters speak French.  Not all the French, just the French that's important to moving the story (what little of it there is) forward.  But they don't do subtitles the way subtitles are done.  Usually, subtitles pop onto the screen, like a cut.  But in this movie, they fade them in or out.  It's kind of weird and distracting.  When a word slowly fades in at the bottom of the screen, you think it's a title card, like "Chicago" appearing under a cityscape of Chicago.  The fading of the subtitles didn't work.  The Masked Reviewer thought it important to mention this here, because most people will forget about that important point as they will forget about everything in the film.

It's a film that, if you do see it, you're unlikely to hate.  It's also a film that's hard to imagine anyone loving.  It's bland and nothing.  It's almost as exciting as riding an elevator for several minutes, without the sensation of movement and the fun buttons to push.


Expectation from the Title: When Johnny's third grade history homework gets eaten by his dog, the teacher demands that he re-do it after school.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  The French countryside is beautiful this time of year.

The Pros: Another movie that makes archaeology sexy.

The Cons: The story is dull, the action isn't exciting, the characters are flat, most of the acting is boring, there's just nothing interesting that happens.


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