Starring: Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, David Thewlis
Director: Richard Donner
Richard Donner's film adaptation of Michael Crichton's 1999 novel "Timeline" is a renaissance fair enthusiast's wet dream. The film boasts some nice 14th-century scenery and battle sequences for fans of "Braveheart" and equally interesting science mumbo jumbo for followers of Crichton's earlier work, but it comes up short in both plot and quality.
Chris Johnston (Paul Walker) only seems to visit his father (Billy Connolly), a professor currently working in France, to woo one of his fellow archeologists, Kate (Frances O'Connor), during a dig that has uncovered secrets behind the Hundred Years War between the French and English. After the professor leaves for a business trip, the crew uncovers a help message from him dated back to the 14th-century and soon learns that he was part of a time-travel project that discovered a wormhole to 1357, the very history they are studying.
Chris joins Kate and three other scientists (including Gerard Butler) in a dangerous rescue mission back in time. Although the primitive Renaissance seems simple enough to dodge during their six-hour adventure, they soon realize that having 600 years of knowledge doesn't help as much as they would like, running into numerous deaths and escapes while the scientists in the present have troubles of their own.
"Timeline" is exciting at some points, but will ultimately disappoint even the medieval nut with only one real battle sequence and shabby costuming that barely borders authenticity. Contrived from a novel that portrays more realistic premises and events, Donner's "Timeline" is less of a popcorn movie than one could hope for, ineffectively hybridizing science-fiction with fantasy, much like the mistakes made in "Reign of Fire."
While most of the cast is dreadful in their accustomed characters, Gerard Butler is pleasing as the virtuous White Knight of the future. Be careful in choosing "Timeline" to brighten your holiday spirits the only spirit it lifted in me was the chance for this film to finally eradicate Paul Walker's dreadful career.