"History can be dull even when it's fictionalized."
Michael Crichton’s sci-fi book, given the ultimate generic fantasy direction by Richard Donner: Once the brisk flash-forward prologue sequence, which plays like a horribly construed TV show’s re-cap of the past week’s events, is overcome, the movie settles down for the long haul in 1357 Castleguard, France.The reasoning has to do with a group of archeologists, one of whom goes missing and whose lens is found, dated, at a site-dig. It turns out a company attempting to send physical facsimiles around the world, have instead opened up a wormhole to 1357 Castleguard, and now that company needs the professor’s team to rescue him. (Including his son, Paul Walker, who fishily speaks in a Californian surfer’s accent.) When they arrive, however, they’re thrown in the midst of an “historic” battle between the French and the English. Moderately entertaining, that is, when the streaming and scheming dialogue and heavy exposition aren’t being reiterated, and the action is given a chance, Timeline is too content to struggle through every other myopic battle it comes along. (Nice detail: the firing of the flaming trebuchets.) Any elements of science fiction are skimmed along at double-time (the only time you’ll see that speed) because it’s easier to get the characters into the past and leave them stuck there. (Oddly enough, none of the modern archeologists get to a barber, and so when they arrive in the 14th century, they all have appropriate Camelotian dos.) In a time of the French being looked upon as enemies (to say neutral party doesn’t define the media’s more colorful declaration) and continually being used as such in film, it is interesting to note their ally-status in the movie (I guess they’re better romance placebos than the English), and that not only the battle herein is fictional, but so is Castleguard. With Billy Connolly, Frances O’Connor, Gerard Butler, Anna Friel, Lambert Wilson, and David Thewlis.[See it if you must.]