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The Goondock Saint Takes A Trip To Donnerís TIMELINE!!

Category: Timeline News
Article Date: October 22, 2002 | Publication: Ain't It Cool News | Author: Moriarty
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Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

Iíve been hearing good buzz building about this film for a while now, and Iíll admit it... Iím jonesing to see Richard Donner do something cool. I have a real fondness for his work at times, and Iíve seen him speak several times. Donner is the definition of a long-time survivor in this business, and what Iíve always liked about him is his ability to just pick up and do any genre... whatever the story demands.
So has he made a great adventure of Michael Crichtonís novel? George Nolfiís script, which I read and reviewed last year, was a strong adaptation, and a really great piece of adventure writing, with a fun sense of historical detail. If Donner shot that script, then I donít see how he can lose with this one. Letís see if the Goondock Saint liked what he saw...
Hello all,

I recently got the chance to take a sneak peak at TIMELINE, the newest of the Micheal Crichton babies to catch some film.

TIMELINE was an intriguing movie. The plot was great, as expected from the mind of Michael Crichton, and the direction was keen, as expected from the experience of Richard Donner. But something was missing. After much consideration I found what it is...it was the giant void of ability exhibited by the lead, Paul Walker.

Ok, I'll admit, I wrote the above paragraph before I saw TIMELINE. Those were my preconceived notions of the talent involved. My true feelings on the film were much more mixed. Here's how it really went down.

TIMELINE WAS an intriguing movie, but the plot wasn't as great as I would have liked. It follows a group archealogical students as they go back in time to rescue their teacher. I havent read the book, but have read other Crichton books like Sphere, the dinofun adventures, and Eaters of the dead. They were all quite good reads. I'm not sure if the book of TIMELINE had more to offer, but the movie didn't seem very urgent. I've come to the conclusion that it's because of the characters.

In TIMELINE there were characters a plenty. The thing was, these characters merely needed a bit more depth. There was the lead Paul "You keep digging, you'll dig your own grave" Walker, who, surprisingly wasn't that bad. Ever since that POINT BREAK remake with cars, that came out, I've noticed there's not much range in his acting artillary. Maybe I didn't dig him in it so much because he was playing a cop, which was rather unbeivable or maybe because he was playing opposite a doctor of charisma--Vin Diesel (case in point: BOILER ROOM). Either way, I wasn't the biggest fan of this cat. Surprisingly, however, I didn't mind his presence in TIMELINE. Probably because he was playing a character that was very much like what he seems like he is in real life; some laid-back all-American. That's not to say his character was well-drawn however. Let me go back to another Richard Donner film to help clarify my character-complaints with TIMELINE.

The film that I believe TIMELINE (or any respectful film) should study, and take-notes on is none-other than Richard Donner's 1985 classic....THE GOONIES. Now, I know that many people probably just shut their browser window at the very mention of this film, but I have to admit, nay, DECLARE, that THE GOONIES is masterwork. I was raised on the film. The fact that I grew to love it as a child may make me biased toward it now, but I don't care. It's a lovely bias to have. Despite my desire to reveal the brilliance of THE GOONIES to all of the land, I will attempt to relate it to TIMELINE. TIMELINE, like THE GOONIES, had multiple characters. They, similarly, had to go on an adventure. But in THE GOONIES you knew each of these characters, and you knew their motivation for each of their actions. In TIMELINE, the characters just act, we don't know why they do the things they do.

TIMELINE had Paul Walker as the pseudo-lead. He wasn't bad, he played a free-spirit who is forced to help save his father from Medievil times. Yet, that's all we knew about him. Well, that and his love for the female lead (Frances O'Connor, who was quite good in it, in more ways than one). In THE GOONIES the lead was "Mikey" played to perfection by Samwise himself, Sean Astin. We knew that this kid craved adventure, and he loved his friends. He had an achilles heal in his asthma, so he attempted to make up for his innefiencies by being the leader of "The Goonies." Paul Walker was the lead by default in TIMELELINE. He was the son of the lost teacher, so, of course, he'll attempt to get him back. The motivation is too easy, no inner conflict. Thus, the audience (by audience I mean, me) isn't attached to his character.

The teacher was played by Billy Connolly, and I was surprised at how little he was given to do. His only plot point seems to be the damsel in distress. And he kind of served as the wise elder. Which is too bad, he's a good actor (Case in point: BOONDOCK SAINTS, or all the other artsier movies he was good in). In THE GOONIES we had a different "wise elder." His name was Sloth, played with just enough make-up by the late John Matuszak. He was a conflicted character. He was handicapped, and abused by his Fratelli brothers. When he finally found someone who cared for him, it was touching. Connolly's character has none such character arch to follow. There are other characters who are on the brink of being realized but they fall short.

For instance, the "Marek" character, played by Gerard Butler, was on the verge of being that kickass character that makes the film. Like in BLACKHAWK DOWN, there were plenty of characters, and it was a good movie, but it was elevated considerably by the "Hoot" character. He made the movie for me. I wanted "Marek" to be that sort of character. He almost was. Or, to continue with THE GOONIES, the "Data" character, played by Ke Huy "You call him Dr. Jones...Doll" Quan. A character that is just so damn cool he steals the film from such heavyweights as Sean Astin, and Corey Feldman.

There are other characters in TIMELINE that have flashes of life, but nothing in comparison to "Chunk's" Truffle-Shuffle as performed by the wonderfully-nuanced Jeff Cohen in THE GOONIES. And, unfortunately, there wasn't a character like Feldman's "Mouth" to provide some understated comedy relief. Basically, what took me three paragraphs to explain, is that TIMELINE needed that little extra kick in the ass in regards to its characters.

You may think that I didn't like TIMELINE from reading thus far. But I was merely harsh in comparison to the greatness that is THE GOONIES. TIMELINE actually had much to offer. The cinematography was quite excellent, featurning many lovely locales. The actors actually did a decent job with their underwritten characters (Ethan Embry was also in it, in a role which could have been much more). The script, despite mishandling the characters, was actually quite sharp. Dialogue was usually crisp. And the action was quite good, as most medieval action is. There is some kickass trebuchet action, and Donner pushes the envelope with the violence in what will be most likely a PG-13 flick. There is particularly one sequence that left me floored. It involved opposing armies shooting flaming arrows into the night's sky, and intersecting. It looked quite stunning.

The film was a work in progress, so many of thes elements hopefully will be fixed. One in particular could elevate this movie from "good" to "great." The score. The score is imperative in a movie like this. It could make or break some scenes. Yeah, a good epic score could really make this movie. I'm not saying it'll top THE GOONIES use of Cyndi Lauper, but it could make TIMELINE something special.

As of this moment, I'd recommend this film. When it finally comes out many months in the future, you can decide for yourself. For when it comes down to it only two things are true. Movies are unique in that each person reacts differently to each one, and....THE GOONIES has been a hard act to follow since the stars alligned in 1985, capturing cinema in a bottle (if you disagree, go back to previous truth about movies). Anyway, GOONIES II will be a revolution if done correctly (and if they still plan on making it).

Well, then. I hope I've enlightened you to both TIMELINE and THE GOONIES. But don't take me too seriously, for I'm just a common, no-good, low-down...

Goondock Saint

Thanks, man. Hopefully weíll get more peeks at this film soon.

 


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