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
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,
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
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 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.
Congo was better. But then again, that featured talking
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
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
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.