Category: Timeline News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 1, 2002 | Publication: Latino Review | Author: Babosa
Publication/Article Link:

Timeline is a sci-fi tale from Paramount Pictures involving a small group of archeological students, 14th century France, and time travel. Directed by Richard Donner, this is the Donners’ Producing Company’s first movie since their 1999 debut flick Any Given Sunday, a behind-the-scenes look at the trials and tribulations of modern day warriors (directed by Oliver Stone). Timeline is being filmed in Los Angeles, California, Prague, Czech Republic, and Montreal, Canada. It’s been given a budget of $80 million US Dollars.

Timeline is based on the novel of the same name, by “the father of the techno-thriller” Michael Crichton; other Crichton movies include Jurassic Park (1993), Westworld (1973), and, a personal favorite of mine, The Andromeda Strain (1971), among many others. The Timeline script begins with a shock-value teaser to keep our attention up during the next few scenes of technical info and needed background dirt. In these scenes, we meet the main players in the movie:

1. Edward Johnston (actor not specified yet)-
Better known as the “Professor”, 60 year old Johnston is the Senior Historian at the University. He’s a knowledgeable archeologist with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for adventure.

2. Chris Hughes -
The son of the Professor, Hughes, played by Paul Walker of The Fast and the Furious fame, is a devil-may-care free spirit who is NOT interested in history. Hmmm...might he change his tune by the end?

3. Andre Marek -
Marek, played by 33 year old Scottish actor Gerard Butler (he was Dracula in Dracula 2000), is a tough-as-nails, scrappy, physically fit archeologist (is that possible?) who figures to be a prominent role in the film.

4. Kate -
Kate, played by Australian actress (you’ll recognize her from the film A.I.) Francis O’ Connor, is a driven archeology grad student in charge of a dig at the ancient medieval French battle site of La Roque (also known as Castlegard).

The action begins again at the archeological digging site of Castlegard. Here, the young students hope to uncover the secrets of the French/English battle of 1357 AD in order to please their mentor, the Professor, who has left them in charge of the dig so that he might pursue his own secrets. While excavating, Marek and Kate explore a previously hidden chamber sealed for hundreds of years. Just before the chamber collapses (of course), they grab a strange piece of glass and some papers. Upon closer examination, they discover the strange glass is one lens from bifocal glasses and the paper is a handwritten “HELP!” letter written in the year 1357 AD and signed by the Professor? Enter the ITC Corporation headed by a man named Robert Doniger.

An ITC corporate jet whisks the bewildered students to an ITC research facility. There, pieces of the growing puzzle link together when company cronies, headed by Doniger, explain that the company accidentally created a time machine linked in synchronous time with the nearby Castlegard site, but in the year 1357 AD. They briefly explain their time travel theory and apparatus, but don’t go into too much detail. ITC has been sending through research teams into ancient Castlegard for historical research (supposedly). Unfortunately, the Professor, being a valued member of one of those teams, has been stranded in the past. Doniger then tells the astonished students of his plan to send them, along with some ex-military guys, back to rescue the Professor. They’ve been chosen because of their intimate knowledge of the Castlegard layout and history. The archeological gang is told they only have a few minutes to decide as they’ve already started the time machine (hmmm...). All but one decide to go on the rescue mission. Of course, they’re then told they only have 8 hours to find the professor or risk being stuck back in time themselves. Oh, and the same consequence happens if they lose their little tech-necklace-gadgets that can recall them before the 8 hour mark. So they’re outfitted in period costume and period weaponry (no modern weapons so as to not “pollute” the past, present, and future), and placed inside the time machine.


The students, along with retired General Gordon (played by 36 year old Neal McDonough) and 2 ex-marines, are no sooner back in 1357 AD Castlegard,when they’re pursued by English Knights ahorse. The ex-marines are of no use, but the General and the gang manage to escape the pursuers while losing some of the necklaces. Marek also discovers he’s a KILLING MACHINE!!! Anyway, with the aid of a mysterious girl (who is important, as we learn later in the movie), the rescuers attempt to retrieve the Professor from Lord Oliver, the English commander of the occupying force in Castlegard. Without revealing too much, suffice it to say that our gang, more or less, suffers through the ravages of this medieval battle and the fairly predictable plot twists that crop up along the way.

Weeell, I started reading the script with an open mind, as I am a sucker for time travel flicks. However, my enthusiasm soon diminished as I read. Here are some of my gripes:

• The script goes too quickly through the tech explanations of the time travel machine (Crichton goes into good detail in his novel).

• Oops! Drat the luck! The time machine breaks....

• Sending archeology students on a rescue mission back in time? Couldn’t ITC afford to hire some competent pros or did the time machine bust their budget? Right, a business like ITC doesn’t bring back artifacts to “fund” continued research!

• What’s with the cheap flimsy necklaces that you must have to get back?? They get damaged so easily you’d think they were candy necklaces.

• The ending peaks too early for my taste, but it does have a nice fairy tale ending (maybe Crichton should have written the screenplay?).

Despite my gripes, it sounds like it should be an entertaining romp with many young pretty faces and just enough substance to keep you interested. And although it does END like a fairy tale, the fight scenes seem like they will be gritty and gruesome battles. Besides, can any movie that has a “Sword Master” listed in it’s credits (ThomasDuPont) be that bad? Well...Can it?...