Review of Timeline

Timeline (2003)
Run away! Run away!
30 May 2004
"Timeline" is allegedly based on a novel by Michael Crichton. Allegedly, because although it shares the original's storyline of modern archaeologists being dropped into 14th century France, it does away with a lot of the original - changes characters around, makes several female characters male, and removes the plot hole of the original whereby it was supposed to be a parallel world rather than time travel, but that can't work because if the marooned-in-the-past Professor leaves a note for his students in the present day then it has to be time travel. In the film it's time travel and like it.

I can't remember anyone who was in it except Billy Connolly, and I suspect that was because Sean Connery and Robbie Coltrane both turned it down with a look of disgust.

The film is also pretty much one long fight, without any of the nuances of the 14th century world that Crichton put into his book - and doesn't make sense time and again. One of the two remaining female characters, supposedly a woman with a love of that period of history, says that being alive in that time would be as bad as being killed in it.

The English soldiers are able to speak to the American and Scottish timetravellers in perfect modern English, never mind that 14th century English was a very different animal and many of the English officers and nobility would have spoken Norman French. The French very often reveal themselves able to speak English - unlikely, see previous point for reason. One French character has to have English interpreted for him and then becomes able to speak English. Funny, I didn't see him put a fish in his ear.

One scene I was looking forward to was the Green Knight (? not sure of the name), who is straight out of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail": "None shall pass!" Was he in it? Was he heck.

The English are depicted as more or less the Nazis, the basis being presumably, "The German army was in France in 1940, so another foreign army in France must have been exactly the same", thereby ignoring the whole historical background: the English rulers at this point were actually the descendants of the Norman French who'd conquered England 380 years earlier. All the English characters are bad and all the French, good. One timetraveller kills an English soldier and says what? "That's for my friends you killed!"? No, he says, "For France!". Why?

Most appropriate line in my opinion goes to the English general who says during a particularly inept French raid, "I'm getting tired of this." I can imagine an entire cinema audience replying, "So are we."
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