Retro Review: Timeline

For the better part of three years, I have been eagerly anticipating the film version of the Michael Crichton novel, “Timeline”. Crichton’s paperback gem did for “time travel” what “Jurassic Park” did for paleontologists. It was smart, slick and clever novel that was in every sense of the word, Crichton. So what happened?

Superman” and “Lethal Weapon” helmer Richard Donner directs the film adaptation of the sci-fi novel. The film finds Chris Johnston (Paul Walker) searching for his missing father, an archeology professor who was working on a dig in Dordogne Valley, France.

His father’s assistant Andre Marek (Gerard Butler) and his crew team up with the professor’s son to uncover what happened. It leads the team to the dig’s financial backers, the conglomerate ITC. It seems that ITC has uncovered a wormhole in the “space-time” continuum that leads back to 14th century France. ITC sent the professor through the wormhole as an expert but is having difficulty in retrieving him. Now it is up to the son’s team to rescue him. Can they get through the wormhole, rescue the professor and return to our time all in 6 hours? Not likely but they’ll try.

Gerard Butler takes it medieval.

There are a lot of things wrong with “Timeline” and that’s just the beginning. The script-writers have so watered down the plot that it’s hard to understand how some of the events unfold. Then there is the rather oddly fast-paced speed the film barrels along at. The whole front-end of the film is so fast and out of place that we can’t hardly follow who is who especially when there are about 12 characters thrown at us in under 20 minutes.

When the cast eventually arrives in the past the film slows down a bit but the way the 14th Century was conceived felt ever so phony. It was like they teleported back to a film set of a movie being filmed in the 14th Century. Not the actual time period.

The very few things I liked were the performance of Gerard Butler in a leading role. In every project he always brings something heroic to the role. He was the perfect Andre Marek. I also liked the story and premise but not the way it was presented here.From the opening scene I knew this film was a train-wreck. And I was never proven wrong. It is just amazing how so many things went wrong in so many ways with this adaptation. It was such a smart, original and exciting story. And the filmmakers forgot all those things.

2 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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