Sometimes when you go to the movies, you want to experience something just for fun. You're willing to suspend your beliefs
and accept a host of improbable situations, clunky dialogue and less than stellar performances all in the name of escapism. Last
summer brought THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN and now that it's fall, there's TIMELINE.
Based on Michael Crichton's best-selling novel, TIMELINE tells of wealthy industrialist Robert Doniger (portrayed by David
Thewlis) who built a machine that allows for time travel. The billionaire is also underwriting an archeological dig at Castlegard in
France headed by Scottish-born Professor Johnston (Billy Connoly) whose American son Chris (Paul Walker) doesn't share
his father's interests. Johnston heads off to confront his underwriter and then a missive is discovered from him at the dig site --
written in ink from the 14th century -- well, then we're off and running. Soon a group of Johnston's cohorts (played by Frances
O'Connor, Ethan Embry, Gerard Butler and Rossif Sutherland) joins Chris in confronting Doniger, who in turn displays his time
travel machine. All but Embry don period costumes and the group, joined by Doniger's right-hand man (Neil McDonough), are
soon transported via that wormhole to the eve of a battle in 1357 France.
I know. I know. It all really doesn't make sense, and the time machine certainly bears no resemblance to H.G. Wells' (indeed it
looks more like a department store dressing room with its circular row of mirrors), but if you just go along with it, the ride is fun
-- at least for the first hour or so. As the battle sequences rage and the earlier clues become more obvious, TIMELINE
becomes more predictable.
Richard Donner (LETHAL WEAPON) doesn't so much direct as serve as traffic cop. The battle sequences tend to go on too
long and pale next to those staged by Peter Jackson in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy (which obviously served as a
reference point). The performances are a mixed bag, the best of which are Anna Friel as a French noblewoman and Gerard
Butler as another Scottish archeologist who strike romantic sparks. On the debit side, there's Walker's SoCal surfer dude and
Michael Sheen's bombastic villain (all he needs is a mustache to twirl).
Nevertheless, I have to say I enjoyed TIMELINE. Perhaps after having to have to sit through so many other "serious" films that
were so pretentious (like ELEPHANT and IN THE CUT), it was a pleasure to view something that didn't really have great
expectations. TIMELINE is a B movie that doesn't quite make the grade.
Running time: 116 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense battle sequences and brief language
Viewed at Loews E-Walk
|© 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.