25 thoughts on “TBT: Timeline (2003) Is in No Way Worthy of a Review

  1. Wait – Michael Crichton? Richard Donner? Jerry Goldsmith? The pedigree says this should be at least moderately great. Wow! What a stinker! Thanks for saving me from it!!!!

  2. Well, maybe Ms Beavan had an off day or needed the money badly for a better project.
    Thanks for saving me from this.
    (although Gerard Butler swoon topless maybe worth it)
    Also Fanny Price is also Mrs Selfridge to me as well as Fanny Price.

  3. I sort of liked it. I liked the book better. It was interesting to read about the fact that, at that time, England and France still had trees and the quiet was really “quiet”, no airplanes, stereos blasting music, no appliances running, etc. And the language thing, oh yes. Solved by a very early “translator” ala Star Trek.

  4. I read the book years ago (that’s several hours I’ll never get back), and he lost me many, many times — but the ones that I remember are (a) nobody realizes that some chick got up in monk’s robes (so of course long hair and no tonsure) is a chick, because they’re just that unobservant, and (b) characters successfully hide warbows under their clothes. So I’ve never seen the movie, because it can only be worse.

  5. The book Timeline by Michael Crichton was great. The movie… eh. Well, it had Gerard Butler being SCA-ish, so I didn’t turn it off.

    And yes, I only refer to Frances O’Connor by Fanny Price or “Good Heavens Gwendolen” from The Importance of Being Earnest.

  6. I have kind of a soft place for it, as it came out when I was in college during my friend’s Gerard Butler phase. Mostly it’s fun to make fun of.

    “The bastards, they used Night Arrows! Because no one in history ever DIDN’T light their arrows on fire!!!”

  7. I see Lambert Wilson got lost and so was taken in that fail.
    Oh, well… Sometimes work is slow and one has to pay one’s taxes, I guess.

  8. The book was infinitely better. Of course it was, it’s a Crichton…but on the subject of costuming, since you mentioned the SCA (which I was a member of, served on a royal court, blah blah blah) The details of the costuming for us are pretty good. In the scene of her climbing over the roof, her dress is properly gusseted under the arms and hand sewn, I can’t tell you how many costumers geek out over that little detail. All in all though I watch it for the Paul Walker (RIP) Gerard Butler eye candy.

  9. I loved the concept of this movie but I felt like every one was phoning it in acting-wise. And I could not get over Fanny’s hair either!

  10. Some of the folks in our archaeology/anthropology department decided to watch it for lolz one evening. We were gonna do a drinking game based around historical/scientific inaccuracies, but we were all so shit-faced 20 min in that we had to stop. It was a room full of drunk archaeologists alternately yelling and throwing popcorn at the tv, and making thinly veiled sexual euphemisms whenever Gerard Butler came onscreen.
    I did genuinely enjoy the book.

  11. The novel (which is rather high in page number) is 100x better than this lousy movie. All I had to do was watch it twice to feel the disgust at this watered-down, dumbed-down, abbreviated shadow of a film. It doesn’t do the book justice, not by a long shot. I read the novel back when I was in high school, and while I could barely understand the science, I had a vague idea of what Crichton was getting at, and he did an amazing job studying both that area of France and the time period. His characters were also much more well-developed in the book, and he made everything at least feel realistic.

    Sadly, this movie was made just a few years before they started turning entire novels into miniseries and tv shows, so this was yet another casualty of the failed “turn-a-massive-book-into-a-crappy-2-hour-movie” formula. If it had been a miniseries with a large budget, who knows how popular it would have been.

    I mean, the time-travelers had at least a week to work with, rather than a few days, and they were traveling, not precisely into OUR past, but into another reality that had a similar timeline to us. The quantum mechanics in the book was difficult to get through, and I still have trouble fully understanding it. The only thing the movie got accurate from the book was that traveling too many times caused one’s molecules not to be properly put back together, (like blood vessels and other tissues) and you could eventually die. They couldn’t even get the design of the time machine right, lazy, penny-pinching producers!

    That “wormhole” shortcut was very lazy writing on behalf of the screenwriters. The archeologist girl was a blond tomboy that liked to do actual rock-climbing, and truly did know her stuff about archeology. In fact, she hated putting on a dress and a long wig for her hair. All the time-travelers wore special translators hidden in their ears so they could understand Lang d’Oc, in addition to Old or Middle English. I think 1 or 2 of the time-travelers really could speak the old French.

    1. Lady Claire was an interesting character in the books too. She had long blond hair, and was a master of disguise as well as intrigue. In fact, she survived in the novel because she disguised herself as a nun and snuck out of La Roque before the big battle. And yes, one of the guys stayed behind and married her. There did appear to be some sort of quantum connection between that reality and ours, despite being in another dimension.

      The time-travelers kept commenting on how clean the air was, or when fighting, they were astounded as to how tough people were back in the 1300s. What I thought was dumb in the book was, all the modern people were given to defend themselves with were canisters full of sleeping gas, and it didn’t always work on some of their adversaries.

      Frankly, I think the entire movie was a slap in the face to everything Mr. Crichton did to write the book, and if there was any way to make it right, they’d re-do it ACCURATELY as a miniseries.

      Even with all the actor name-dropping, this movie truly did suck.

    2. Oh yes, this. So much this. (Also, I have it on good authority from Actual Physicists that the quantum mechanics stuff is actually wholly inaccurate, and is only really there to handwave the whole time-travel thing.)

      And yes, Maurice in particular is described early in the book as being fluent in Middle English, Middle French, medieval Latin, and Occitan.

  12. I literally started dating my man-friend because he looked like Gerard Butler in this movie…I told him this…he says he looks better in a hood

  13. I’ve watched it a long time ago and I was bored an irritated. To make things worse, the movie was dubbed… But now, lookin at this gorgeous Gerard Butler again, I declare I can give it a second chance. No, I can’t, there’s plenty of good movies out there to watch.

  14. I saw part of this movie randomly on television a couple of years ago. I neglected to note the big name stars and I thought Lifetime had strangely done a period/sci fi flick.

    It was so bad I truly expected Meredith Baxter Birney to show up at some point.

  15. The worst thing about Timeline is that the book is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie that it’s obscene.

    It’s a Michael Crichton novel. If you just kind of smile and nod and hand-wave the weird pseudo-physics meant to explain the time travel, the rest is utterly awesome. The language issues are addressed. (Remember those old learn-a-language-with-tapes sets? Imagine one of those for Middle English.) Clothing is described in detail. The damage to the time machine was explained.

    And then they butchered it horribly. Francois didn’t exist in the book (way to introduce a character for the sole purpose of killing him just to prove that the Big Bad is…bad). They cut out Kate’s daring cross-dressing escape (WHY WOULD YOU CUT OUT RAFTER-HOPPING IN AN ACTION FILM), most of the humor, and like 90% of what made reading the book worthwhile. They left out vital explanations of plot points, leaving more holes than a Swiss cheese. They left out the part where “Sonny Boy” is, in fact, a student of historical architecture. They left out the lost glasses (the mold on which is what further confirmed that this was not site contamination, but Old Science Dude’s glasses had somehow been there since the 14th century).

    Worse: I’d read the book. My father, who was watching the film with me that night, hadn’t. So he had to put up with my whinging about how WHY DID THEY CUT OUT ALL OF THE GOOD STUFF the whole time. They took an exciting, well-researched time-travel story, and made it into a less-interesting A Knight’s Tale.

  16. The book was pretty horrible too. “You mustn’t take anything modern to the past. Here, take these shoes with the comfy special insole.” Otherwise, purely paint by numbers adventure romp with technobabble and historical setting.

  17. HistoryBuffs absolutely shreds this- it is hilarious to watch & I recommind his channel to everyone – apparently, there’s an explanation in the book for their understanding language in the 14th c, but the producers- directors- who the eff ever, couldn’t be bothered adding that small detail in.
    The movie’s by no means perfect, but simple things (that were in the effing book!!!!) could at least help sell the possibility, at the very least.

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