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2012: Supernova (2009)
If you too find yourself strapped to a chair with your eyelids forced open, then this is the film for you!
Being trapped and afraid for my life would be the only reason I would ever watch a flick like this piece of stank. And as a matter of fact, a bus trip in Thailand recently provided the perfect opportunity. Even though it was dubbed in Thai, with no subtitles, I could quickly tell that this was going to be a very special kind of torture. I tried to stare out the window at the rather dull landscape between Bangkok and Rayong, but my eyes kept wandering back to the travesty playing out on the screen a few seats ahead.
One thing that really impressed me was the filmmaker's (ahem) efficient use of "action" shots that basically involved driving back and forth over the same stretch of road and randomly driving black SUVs off the shoulder for no apparent reason. Intercut this with the "mother" and "daughter" (who couldn't be more than 5 years apart in age) sighing and looking somewhat worried. Then splice in stock footage of NASA building. Then a close up on the lead "actor" who honestly really only could afford one single expression (it must have been written into his contract): intensely trying to remember something. Repeat. Oh, and spice things up now and then with some CGI that would have looked great in the '80s.
There you have it.
Black Dynamite (2009)
Rocky Horror, Look Out
I had the great good pleasure of experiencing the full force of Black Dynamite at a midnight showing (at the Castro...one of The Last Great Movie Palaces). I had high expectations going in (based on the YouTube trailer). They were met, exceeded, and blown the F away. I don't remember betting a gut busted so hard in ages.
BD is an absolutely perfect movie. It somehow manages to be a parody and the thing that it is parodying at the same time. You are watching this alternate universe (a fantasy of the 70s, filtered through the lens of Blaxploitation) and the characters are REAL and they believe in the fantasy. But you are also constantly reminded that you are watching a FILM, an intentionally bad one at that. All the things professional filmmakers try to avoid, they do on purpose: Boom mike hitting actor's head, obvious continuity errors, reusing the same shot to save money (exploding car flying off cliff), replacing a stunt actor in mid-sequence... The effect is delightful and hilarious.
Kudos to the crew and actors for really "getting it" and going for it. (I think the only movie I've seen recently where the actors were having so much fun was Tropic Thunder.)
Oh, and the soundtrack; Man, I need to get me some of dat.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Not dark enough, not adult enough
It really could have been so much richer. I have a feeling that del Toro, an amazing director in his own right, was creatively limited by working with Hollywood execs. (Hollywood has a solid record of importing great foreign directors and turning their work into pulp.)
There was a sense of internal struggle watching this flick; it lacked coherency and solidity.
That said, I did enjoy the phantasmagorical visuals and the Miyazaki-like themes of deep nature impinging on modern life. And the opening sequence of Hellboy-as-all-American boy being mentored by his father figure was deliciously subversive.
Not having read the original graphic novels, I only know Hellboy's character through Perlman's wonderful mug. He manages to play the brutish-yet-sensitive types with a subtle spark of intelligence. I also admired Blair's performance.
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
They DO make them like they used to, only better!
What a wonderful surprise: Yesterday my sister calls me and tells me that there's a new film by the director of Brick, playing at the Mill Valley Film Festival. "I'm there!"
Even before we get in the theater, I know we're in for a different experience. A pair of toughs with metal detectors wave us down for hidden cameras and demand we turn our cell phones off. I'm surprised we didn't have to take our shoes off. Endgame Entertainment certainly doesn't want any leaks.
Once inside, the director, Rian Johnson, shows up just before the show starts, fresh off a flight from Abu Dhabi no less. He gives a short interview with Mark Fishkin (long time director of the festival), coming off as a very charming, self-effacing, funny and unpretentious fellow. I like him immediately. Hollywood has not corrupted him (yet).
Like Tarantino, Johnson has closely studied films and makes constant references and nods to The Classics, especially from the 40s and 50s. Unlike Tarantino, Johnson writes more original stories and has good taste and far gentler sensibilities. Obvious influences include: Wes Anderson, The Cohen Bros, Billy Wilder, John Huston.
The film itself? Instant classic. It's got all the elements you could want in a Hollywood-style movie: Charming characters, plot twists, tons of gags, an incredibly beautiful leading lady, sumptuous sets and locations, and an overall sense "gee-whiz-isn't-this-fun!"
And it's classy, too. It doesn't resort to needless, sensationalist sex and violence. The writer respects and honors the audience's intelligence, a all-too-rare occurrence these days.
You could tell that the actors had a blast with the sometimes subtle, sometimes slap-stick script, relishing their characters' quirks and foibles.
Overall, Brothers Bloom almost manages perfection. It's one fault lies in the resolution, the last 5 minutes where it's tone abruptly changes for darker. Without giving anything away, I feel that it was too heavy-handed, considering the generally light and wacky spirit that had predominated. The rest of the audience seemed to feel the same way, given the hushed mood as the credits rolled. If the producers have an alternate ending up their sleeves, I suggest they use it, even it has to be somewhat ambiguous.
Otherwise, I'm happy to contribute to the positive buzz. I really think Brothers Bloom could be a huge hit, even a timeless classic.
The IT Crowd (2006)
Brilliant! (no irony intended)
I've been a fan of British comedy for practically all my life. Monty Python to Black Adder to Mr. Bean, and now welcome The IT Crowd to the cannon. Really clever while completely goofy and slapstick. And yes, I know and work with lots of IT people, and this show only slightly exaggerates their eccentricities.
Favorite moment: Noel Fielding's goth character. I'd never heard of him before, but thought he was so incredible that I looked him here on the IMDb and thereby discovered yet another great show, The Mighty Boosh.
The opening credits and music always make me smile. I have a weakness for the 8 bit aesthetic.
Like a chocolate sardine pie
I give the people who made this film credit for not providing easy answers or making things unambiguous. Everybody was complicated. Everybody was somewhat confused by their own reactions and behaviors. This is how most of us humans feel, most of the time, methinks.
I'm glad I'm not the only one here who has to feel like defending Earl. Yes, he was a controlling jerk. But other than the one time he slapped her*, did he do anything else truly bad or immoral? Did he have an affair? (We don't know for sure, but there was no indication of that at all in the film.) He was emotionally needy and annoying, but was he really that bad? All the characters in this film are "bad", from a strictly moralistic POV. I don't think Jenna was evil by any means, but at the end I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.
What's the message to young women here? It seems to be something like, "Being empowered means diddling whoever you like (getting lucky with no consequences)", or maybe, "Pray for a kind, old, sugar daddy who will leave you all his money, and not even expect anything in return, so you can be 'independent' (getting lucky, again)", or how 'bout, "If you find yourself in an unpleasant/borderline abusive relationship, simply turn off your emotions and be cold to your partner without being honest with yourself or with him; anything you do to remedy the situation (like running away or having an affair or dumping him the moment his first child is born) is okay-dokey", or (my favorite feminist message), "Rearing a child by yourself is really great and not as hard as it looks."
* Has anyone else noticed the double standard around slapping? I'm not talking about punching or beating, just slapping. In most films or shows I've seen, when a man slaps a woman, it's portrayed as a BIG NO NO. But when the woman slaps the man, it's usually presented as justifiable or played for laughs. Is this because of the power dynamic between the sexes? "Big powerful men are scary and so it's never OK for express their anger physically in any way. But the powerless, helpless woman can (and even should) slap him if she's peeved, because..." Because why? I don't get it.
The Oh in Ohio (2006)
How to make orgasms boring
I like it when movies don't treat sex too seriously. It's OK to laugh during love scenes. I applaud any attempt to bring truly "adult-themed" movies to the American audience. But, for some reason, I really wasn't amused by OH! In fact, I found myself frequently glancing at the clock; I barely made it through to the end of the DVD.
OH! was trying so hard (too hard) to be like Sex in the City, what with its jazz-lite music and an improbably sunny depiction of a big city (Cleveland instead of NY). But where Sex in the City was truly adult material treated in an adult manner, OH! seemed childish.
It felt like maybe it had a great original script that attracted talented actors, but then ended up watered down by the executives so that "it will play well to middle America." So instead of a true indie production that pushes boundaries, you get a watered-down, corporate friendly flick that's neither mainstream nor "edgy." Worst of both worlds.
Not sexy. Not funny. Not believable.
Samurai Jack: Episode VII (2001)
One of the best pieces of animation I've ever seen
When I caught this episode (at a guest house in Thailand of all places), I had never seen or even heard of Samarai Jack before. I was absolutely in awe. The style, the sound design, the story, the humor, the music. It's all great. As soon as I got home, I bought the Season One DVD. I really like the other episodes, but this one is hands down the greatest of them.
My favorite sequence: To overcome the blind super-archers, Jack must learn to to fight as they do. So he blindfolds himself, and meditates in the middle of a snow-covered forest. At first, the screen goes black and it goes totally silent. Then you start to hear a subtle sound, like a scratching, and then the source of that sound is gradually revealed to be a deer digging up the snow to find a shoot. The sounds and images continue to literally paint the world for Jack, culminating with the sound of each individual snowflake falling, like tiny shards of glass breaking in slow motion. Spellbinding.
My four-year-old daughter and I completely fell in love with Jack and Aku, The Shapeshifting Master of Darkness (he with flaming eyebrows). I was a little hesitant about the violence factor at first; but the cool thing is that only robots get killed!
loud, offensive, boring
This is precisely what sort of movie Team America was parodying. Smart @ss Americans come to your country and blow stuff up while awful music blares! I usually like this sort of adventure story (a la Indiana Jones or James Bond), but the execution of Sahara was ham-fisted and seemed completely unaware of the obvious moral ambiguities of the lead character. Classic anti-hero stuff, completely glossed over.
Love story, if you could call it that, was tepid and fairly unbelievable. No chemistry between Mathew and Penelope. When they finally kiss, they both seem reluctant or embarrassed.
I'm amazed I sat through the whole thing.
a bit weak, by Carlin standards
While the material is better than pretty much any other living comedian (though Eddie Izzard comes mighty close), George's delivery is weaker than usual.
It's interesting that this show was packaged with the far superior Jammin' in New York. You can see he was working on new material in 1990 that became far more refined by the 1992 show. Still, I'd recommend it for any Carlin fan.
My favorite part was the bit about talking loudly in a party when everyone is suddenly silent. I shan't repeat the punchline here, cuz then I'd have to click the "If you have a spoiler..." box and ruin a great joke.
As someone who has never read the books, but enjoyed the other filmed Potters, I was disappointed with #4.
The biggest problem was the pacing: I found myself loosing interest pretty soon after it started. Not that I ever really got bored. Just that I had a hard time caring. Something about the acting (more likely the directing) didn't "sell" me. Plus, the story arc was weird and hard to make sense out of. No matter how good a book is or how faithful you want the movie to be to it, a film must stand on its own terms and be true to its own world. Harry Potter 4 fails on both counts.
Also, some of the music was unbearably cheesy ("prom scene" and closing credits).
Chicken Little (2005)
my daughter summed it up perfectly
After the movie, I asked my almost-5-year-old daughter, "well, what did you think?"
She thought a second and replied, "It was OK. The Incredibles was better."
I smiled. "That's my girl!"
Pixar has indeed set a high bar for these kind of computer animated films. While Chicken Little was technically proficient, it just wasn't very compelling or funny. (My daughter laughed maybe twice during the entire show and I laughed once.)
Plus, there was WAY too much emphasis on the "you gotta talk to your father" psycho-babble coming from a suspiciously Dory-like Abby.
Oh, and I couldn't stand the music.
just shy of greatness
I love the Sandman comics and have been dreaming of the day when someone makes a film (or TV series) based on it. So when I heard about Gaiman and Mckean collaborating on a production called Mirrormask, I got very excited indeed.
Coming out of the theater last night, I felt a tinge disappointment. Perhaps if I were 20 years younger I'd be blown away (like the when I saw Time Bandits at 14), but I wasn't. A great movie, regardless of its subject matter, is much like a dream: You forget yourself and meld with an alternate reality, completing forgetting time. Oddly, I was only too aware of normal time during much of Mirrormask. I would loose focus and stare AT the movie rather than be IN it. (Then again, this effect may have been intentional, considering how they play with the idea of lucid dreaming.)
Another IMDb commentator opines, "This could have been a GREAT film under the direction of someone like Jeunet (Delicatessen, Amelie) who knows how to balance the surreal with the emotionally grounded." My sentiments exactly. Mckean is a great illustrator and is obviously multi-talented (the end credits are amazingly specific about how each and every crew member contributed) but he has a lot to learn about directing. There were too many moments in the film which felt awkward and mis-timed. And yes, I can tell the difference between "non-linear" or "dreamy" or "trippy", and "inexperienced."
The same goes for the writing: Gaiman is a great writer, no doubt. But creating a screenplay is something altogether different than writing a book (or graphic novel). Some of the lines came across as cheesy, even though they might have read well on the page.
But this doesn't mean that you shouldn't see Mirrormask. On the contrary, if you love a fecund imagination, fanciful notions, mythology, Jungian psychology, and real fairy tails (not Disney), by all means, check it out.
everything that is wrong with society
I'm not one to automatically hate romantic comedies. There are some I quite like. But they have to be really well done. Monster in Law is not.
My wife asked me to rent the DVD yesterday, and I dutifully obliged. "J. Lo and Jane Fonda might make for an interesting flick" I thought. The first thing I noticed when I opened the case was that there were two DVDs, the second entirely devoted to extra features. Excuse me? Why does a movie of this rather low caliber deserve and entire second disc?
So, before pressing play, I braced myself with a generous shot of Patron and cuddled up with my wife.
Five minutes later, I found myself wishing I'd never been born.
OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a wee bit. It wasn't all THAT bad. But c'mon, how is a grown man supposed to effectively suppress the urge to vomit upon hearing exchanges like: "What color are my eyes?", "They're brown, but when the light hits them they turn amber and the edges turn gold..."? Even the actor who uttered this line was struggling against the instinctive urge to hurl.
Ya, there are some priceless nuggets of yech littered about this as-Hollywood-as-you-can- get formulaic tripe. And I'm getting sick of seeing perfectly groomed rich white people being driven around in Jaguars between their mansions by black people, scheming to undermine poor people. Maybe it's just bad timing. After this last week's events in New Orleans, class disparity is no longer a laughing matter.
For the sheer masochism of it, I even watched some of the extras, including the bit about the director, who was so incredibly annoying I have to wonder who he blew to get his job.
La marche de l'empereur (2005)
This is NOT a documentary
This film is certainly poetic, inspiring, poignant. But I believe it crosses the fuzzy line separating a documentary from a fiction. Though I'm sure the story was based on penguin observation and research, the telling of it sounds far more like a "historical drama" which was "based on actual events", but took many liberties.
I'm bothered by the notion that animals experience and express emotions the same way we humans do. The filmmakers chose to create this film in a manner that blatantly plays off our emotional responses, anthropomorphizing everything they pointed their cameras at.
For example, the narration speaks of winter as if it were a god, "doing everything in its power to stop the penguins." The long winter is repeatedly referred to as a time of "darkness", in a very negative way. But I doubt the polar nights are very dark. There's an awful lot of stars, the moon, and those incredible auroras reflecting off an almost entirely white surface. Even to human eyes, it must be spectacularly beautiful. Imagine what penguin eyes, designed to see under water, must see?
The love scene was shot in super slo-mo, edited to convey a sense of tenderness (that yes, actually brought tears to my eyes) not often seen in birds. In fact, when you see animals "doing it" in real time, it's rather abrupt and unromantic, by our standards. Also, in the bit where the mother penguin looses her chick, the narrator describes the loss as "unbearable" while you hear her moan. But how do we know what she is really feeling? Was that sound she made real, or was added to the soundtrack from another, unrelated event? Does that sound actually convey sadness to a penguin?
I know I probably come across as a bit of a pill here, but I really dislike the romantification of Nature. If you're going to create a poetic, impressionistic film about nature, I much prefer the approach of Microcosmos: Leave out the narration altogether and just watch.
And in an odd bit of irony, this film would seem to cater to children through its heavy use of metaphor and simplistic world-view, but it's too slow for (young) kids anyway. My daughter (4 1/2) started asking me if we could leave about half way through. She stuck it out to the end, cried once, but was rather blasé about it afterwords.
You may be wondering why I gave 8 out of 10, after dissing it so much. Well, I have to give them credit for making a beautiful, somewhat informative, movie in what must've been incredibly harsh conditions. Also, I can't help but feel a profound sense of awe and respect for these birds. And relief that I am not one of them.
I really wanted to like this flick, but I found myself constantly coming up with ways to make it so much better. To boot...
1) Get a better leading man. While Kate and Michael and Bill and Scott provided decent performances, the complete lack of talent on the part of Shane really brought the rest of the cast down.
2) Get a better film editor. The action sequences were remarkably uninvolving and dull. The exposition bits felt clumsy (in ways not necessarily due to acting or script).
3) Get a better stunt choreographer, like Woo-ping. See above statements. Plus, in the final battle sequence between Viktor and Michael, it was SO obvious that their fists were no where near contacting each others' bodies. The gunfight bits were also pretty uninteresting. This might also be the director's fault, so they should get a better director, while they're at it.
4) Get a better script writer. I don't have super-high expectations for this sort of film, but it still could've been far more interesting and involving. For instance, I think if they would have paid more attention to the way these Underworld creatures secretly inhabit our world, by say, starting the movie from Michael's point of view instead of Selene's. Other than Michael, his intern friend and some cannon fodder in the subway, humans played almost no role.
5) Give the vampires and werewolves more interesting powers. Especially the vampires. They were too wimpy. The only interesting thing the vamps could do was jump from high places, or stick to the ceiling (which only happened once). They were atrociously bad shots and couldn't even hear well (like when Selene is surprised by a speeding subway car. Even I could frickin hear a subway car coming at me!) Perhaps I'm expecting more of an Anne Rice style vampire.
6) More gore. I'm not a gore hound, per se. It's just that for this subject matter, it all seemed way too PG-13.
7) Better soundtrack. The sound design was decent, but the early '90s-style industrial metal (which I used to be a big fan of) simply didn't work. They need something creepier, more suggestive, like Einsturzende Neubauten or Aphex Twin.
Unfortunately, looking at Underworld: Evolution credits here on the wonderful IMDb, it would seem it's too late to take any of my advice, as most of the cast and crew is exactly the same.
I am a happy camper
Hitchhiker's was my favorite book back in my teens. I had the lowest of expectations when I heard the movie was coming out.
I just saw it again last night, and you know what? It's perfect. It's brilliant. It's hysterically funny, in a multi-layered way. The characterizations are dead-on, exactly like I'd imagined them years ago. The visualizations are incredibly imaginative.
Plus, the movie really stands on its own merits, regardless of the how familiar one may be with the books/TV show/radio version. It follows the long, wonderfully weird tradition of absurdist British humor. Think Monty Python, most of Terry Gilliam's films (especially Time Bandits), the Muppet movies (like The Dark Chrystal, a hybrid American/British production).
Hitchhiker succeeds in transcending the usual cynicism, however. I left the theater feeling truly inspired, feeling like a wide-eyed child again. I think it sends a wonderful, deeply felt message, one that I would want my own children to understand. Shakespeare said it best: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Satisfying for those who:
-Love Japanese and/or Hong Kong gangster movies
-Love action sci-fi movies, especially those involving time travel
It's true that there a lot of cheesiness, but that's all part of the fun.
It's also true that this film is HIGHLY derivative of American sci-fi movies, but I have to point out that Sky Captain was at least as derivative but not even half as entertaining.
The only element that I thought was appalling was the soundtrack. I mean, the Villain's theme sounded like early ZZ Top. Not that there's anything wrong with ZZ Top, but in this context, it just didn't work. The aggressive techno was somewhat more fitting, but it still seemed dated to me.
And a note about the extras in the DVD version: They really should've added commentary to the making-of footage. It was cool to see how they did a lot of those shots (and I don't speak a word of Japanese, but I will still able to follow along), but some kind of director's commentary would've added a lot (see the LOTR extended discs for the absolute best making-of extras I've ever seen.)
Shi mian mai fu (2004)
This flick could become a Home Theater Surround test disc
For those of you who plan on seeing this beautiful movie, please pay attention to the SOUND. You have to see it in a theater with a really good sound system, like THX. The Echo Game and bamboo forest fight scenes are particularly breath-taking. Some of the music is quite lovely, too.
I can't wait to get the DVD and see how well my little home theater system can take it.
Otherwise, of course the plot is hokey and they really stretch our ability to suspend disbelief. But that's not what these kind of movies are about. They are meant to be absorbed, not analyzed. Just go with it. Pretend you're watching a live-action cartoon, or a puppet show.
Yes, you read right. I think this sort of movie is porn for women. Porn is all about ego gratification, right? For men, this means watching eager, naked women act like they're really turned on by less-than-average-looking men. The man thinks, "Hey, if those hotties like that shmo, they'd certainly go for me!" Gratification ensues.
With Bridget Jones, we have a sort-of-cute, chubby, silly, clumsy women who is fawned over and fought over by two gorgeous hunks and---SPOILER ALERT---one beautiful, thin lesbian. The average female watches this flick and thinks, "Hey, she could be me, and those gorgeous, affluent hunks (and even beautiful, affluent young women) would certainly love me for what I am!"
We all just want to be accepted for what we are (or feel like we are). Movies let us vicariously participate in the heros' lives, and porn accomplishes this feat in the most base, graphic manner. Men and women have different needs, and therefore need a different kind of porn. Nothing wrong with that.
Oh, to be 14 again...
I really, really wanted to like this movie. I mean, I did like it, but I found myself losing focus and well, getting bored. Maybe I'm jaded.
If I were a kid who had not seen many movies yet, Sky Captain would really impress me. I was 14 when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, and it made a huge impression on me. Raiders, like Sky Captain, was based upon the serial cliff-hangers of the 30's. But there's a huge and important difference between these films: Spielberg is a genius, Conran is a hack.
But maybe that's not fair. Maybe Conran is indeed a genius, but Hollywood committee rule has overshadowed his talent. Who knows?
What I do know is that Jude Law is pretty, but not convincingly tough for this kind of hero character. He doesn't even get into any interesting combat. (Bai Ling/Darth Maul just mops the floor with him in that catwalk scene.)
Gwyneth is pretty, but lacks the fire to pull off this kind of heroine/side-kick/love interest role. And what's with that "I've only got two shots left" shtick? That bit with the camera would have made a somewhat amusing running joke, had they not brought it up so often.
To sum, two hours after walking out of the theater, I found myself not thinking about this movie. That it made that little impression on me is impressive, indeed.
Ying xiong (2002)
All of the above
Judging by the wide range of views expressed in the ever enlightening IMDB boards, I'd say Hero is destined to become a "classic". Real art invites multiple interpretations.
Yes, this may be Chinese propaganda. Yes, it may be Kurosawa-lite. Yes, it's incredibly beautiful and provocative. Yes, it can be boring and indulgent. Yes, it's a post-modern assessment of what it really means to be a hero. (Jet Li told a reporter recently, "I wish the world didn't need heros.")
I quite enjoyed it, for the most part. Actually very touching near the end, if not a tad confusing. If nothing else, you can sit back and not think too hard and just let the imagery and sound wash over you.
good student film
Folks, I really, really wanted to like this film. Alas, I found myself looking at the DVD's timer, wondering when the thing would end. So many elements are likable: groovy sixties design, groovy music, groovy chicks, groovy references to (truly) groovy sixties flicks with chicks. But it doesn't hold together. It doesn't flow. It doesn't involve you.
The self-referential dialog and editing had the cloying and self-conscious feel of a student film. (And I had to sit through plenty of those in college, including my own ;-)
Overall, I think Roman has promise, but he has a lot of catching up to do with his sister.
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
My 3-year-old didn't like it
If this is supposed to be a "family" film, this particular family didn't go for it. Less than half way through, my daughter said, "I want to go home". So we walked out and got our refunds.
Not that we were offended or anything. Just bored. I'm a big Jackie Chan fan, love Jules Verne, love wacky inventions, etc. But this film lacked true comedic spark. Something about the timing was off. Too bad. Some kids in the crowed theater seemed to like it though. There was a fair amount of laughter, but not from my family.
It made we want to rent The Great Race again (which IMHO, is vastly superior to either version of of Around the World...).
ah, the joys of writing long reviews of really bad movies
Timeline is one of those great examples of a movie you can enjoy for reasons I'm quite certain the filmmakers never intended. Like laughing in scenes you were supposed to feel sad about. Or, my favorite, playing "spot the plot hole". Mind you, most movies have at least some plot holes, but if they've distracted you with really good performances or a compelling plot or cool effects, then you ignore and forgive.
Unfortunately for Timeline, there's nothing worthwhile going on so you're forced to entertain yourself by trying to imagine how such talented folks could spew such c-r-a- p. By the way, I have not read the book, so I must respectfully lump Crichton in with the rest of them.
If you plan on renting (or gods-forbid, buying) this DVD, ponder these little gems (and yes, these could be considered SPOILERS):
- So how, exactly, did that fellow found in the desert at the beginning of the film get back to the present time? Don't you need that "fax machine" to time travel? Or did the wormhole conveniently open up and grab him? Riddle me that, Batman.
- Boy, those 14th century Englishmen sure did sound modern to me. I would hope that anybody with a high school level education would realize that people talked different back then. Even Shakespearean-era English is hard to follow, and that's a few hundred years after. Given the attention to detail to costumes and architecture, I should have hoped somebody on this project would have suggested adding at least a few "thou"s, "verily"s, "hast"s and other King James-isms. (I don't speak French, but the French sounded too modern as well.)
- When asked if she's married, Claire, the French "lady" replies, "We have been at war with the English since before I was born; there's no time for marriage." Ok, so I guess the French stopped procreating for about a 100 years because they didn't have time? Or perhaps they decided that whole Catholic idea of no sex out of wedlock was just too impractical. Maybe this isn't exactly a plot hole, but it sure is a silly line.
- Notice that the first time travelers to get themselves killed are two ex-Marines. Two HIGHLY TRAINED SOLDIERS easily picked off by knights. Please. The surviving Marine then proceeds to see very little action and then succumbs to wimpering. I'm not buying it.
- And while I can understand said Marines smuggling weapons back in time, why a hand grenade? Wouldn't a hand gun provide more effective protection? Ah but then the filmmekers wouldn't have an excuse to blow up the time machine in a lame effort to add yet another layer of completely unnecessary suspense...
And speaking of suspense, I don't understand why Donner (the director) felt the story needed to be propelled along by a never-ending string of artificially induced cliffhangers.
To me, the compelling thing about time-travel movies is how they can show how alien the past or future is to our present. Even Back to the Future did a far better job of bringing a sense of wonder to the prospect of actually landing somewhere in the past. Timeline never gives the characters (or the audience) a chance to breath, to stop and look around and admire an era that's hard for most of us to even imagine.