Medieval Movie Review: Timeline

Timeline is a movie released in 2003 and based on a novel by Michael Crichton (which was also called Timeline). It stars Paul Walker and Gerard Butler and was directed by Richard Donner

Plot: A group of medieval archaeologists get the opportunity to go back in time to the year 1357 when a high-tech company accidentally finds a way of traveling back through time. The archaeologists are sent back for a six-hour trip, but soon things go awry and they find themselves in the middle of the Hundred Years War between France and England.

Peter’s Review: I enjoyed this film, mainly because I have my own fantasy of getting to go back in time and see some of the medieval world (and six hours seems long enough). Gerard Butler delivers a great performance, but everyone else is somewhat forgettable. The secondary story, set in the present-day, where we see the evil corporate boss trying to ruin everything, is especially unoriginal and boring.

Those who looking for historical accuracy won’t find much here – unless people in the Middle Ages really did speak perfectly modern English and French. On the other hand, the medieval action scenes (big nighttime attack on a castle!) are fun. Despite its many faults, this is a film Ill watch when it comes on television. As long as you see it for free, I recommend you wasting two hours of your life on it.

Notes about the film

- the film was not shot in France, but rather in the Canadian province of Quebec, with all the medieval sets being built for the movie

- Timeline cost $80 million to make, but made up only just over half that amount in the box office. It did not do well with film critics either – on Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 11%

- Richard Donner made several changes to the film from the original novel, in order to make it easier for viewers to follow along. He adds, “I changed the time-travel device. In the book, it’s more about how it was a business, but that sort of thing had already been done with Jurassic Park, so I just made the time-travel business a mistake in the film.”

- DVD extras include a three-part documentary, Journey Through Timeline, plus The Textures of Timeline featurette

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