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Timeline (**)
Directed by Richard Donner
Written by Jeff Maguire and George Nolfi, from the novel by Michael Crichton
Principal Cast
Paul Walker -- Chris Johnston
Frances O'Connor -- Kate Erickson
Gerard Butler -- Andréeacute; Marek
Billy Connolly -- Professor Edward Johnston
Ethan Embry -- David Stern
Anna Friel -- Lady Claire
Marton Csokas -- Robert de Kere
Michael Sheen -- Lord Oliver
Lambert Wilson -- Lord Arnaut
Matt Craven -- Kramer
David La Haye -- Arnaut's Deputy
Rossif Sutherland -- François
David Thewlis -- Robert Doniger
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Timeline The action, thanks to director Richard Donner, is often entertaining. The story is not. Between action sequences you start to think about the many flaws in the plot. Donner couldn't care less about plot. We move from full daylight to pitch black night in less than two hours with no twilight. A huge explosion knocks down stone walls but leaves the person standing next to it without a scratch. The hero and heroine escape from a burning house and are suddenly fifty yards away, unseen by the enemy soldiers surrounding the house.

Worse, we are not given any reason to care about the characters. The hero and heroine survive. A lot of other people die. If it were the other way around, it wouldn't make any difference to us. The only thing that sets the hero and heroine apart from the expendable characters is that the hero and heroine are prettier.

There is not much science fiction in the film. A purely historical movie could have been made using eighty percent of the footage. It might have been a better movie. There are a few nice touches, but nothing comes of them. The hero brags that their advanced knowledge should make beating illiterate antagonists a piece of cake, but there is no follow up, not even ironic. The night arrows are cute, but why would they call them that. The film pays lip service to the way language has changed in six hundred years, but the British in the past speak plain American. One point in the film is well taken -- in the Fourteenth Century, life was cheap.

Richard Donner was, at one time, one of the best American film directors. He directed Superman, arguably the best super-hero film of all time; The Goonies, which I love despite the fact that it makes no sense; Lethal Weapon, The Omen, and Ladyhawk. But he is not a writer/director like Spielberg or Cameron, and he doesn't seem to pay any attention to who is hired to write his films. Jeff Maguire worked on Cats and Dogs, which should tell you something, and is also one of the reasons why the film Seabiscuit was not nearly as good as the book. I have never heard of George Nolfi. This seems to be his first film.

See Timeline if you have nothing better to do. Hope that Richard Donner lucks into a better writer for his next film.

Copyright © 2003 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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