Timeline had all the elements of a truly enjoyable movie, but somehow manages to be anything but. The fact that over one hundred million dollars (including marketing) produces such a lacklustre movie these days is truly disappointing.
Based on the Micahel Chricton novel of the same name, the movie manages to do away with everything that made the novel interesting. All of Chricton's fun science is gone, and we're left with the brief outline of action from a novel that didn't really have the best action scenes. You piece the rest together.
Paul Walker plays Chris, a character who's father runs an archeological dig, unearthing the remains of an ancient french castle. Just recently, his father has become suspicous of the accurate tips handed down to them by their sponsor the ITC corporation. So he decides to travel on down to head office to find out what's going on. Obviously, he ends up transporting himself to the past, because ITC has a wormhole which (only) opens into 1500's france and he ends up there, and in trouble. Back at the dig site, the crew unearths a chamber which has been sealed for six hundred years, and finds a not from the professor asking for help. Concerned for his father, Chris and some of his irritating friends run off to ITC to find out the truth about what has happened. As they're familiar with the time period in question, they're sent back to retreive the professor.
Meanwhile, in the present, ITC is run by Donniger, the sociopathic version of Bill Gates. He's less than comitted to returning our heroes safely, and seems to have no grasp of 'bad publicity' or 'criminal investigation'. The tension Chricton built in the novel concerning the struggle in the present about bringing the team back is completely abandoned here, and things are wrapped up in the most cursory way. This is indicative of the entire movie, as elements of a better movie are just haphazardly mushed together in the vain hopes that something recognizable will come out.
'Timeline' wasn't Chricton's greatest book. Aside from the science, the action was by no means riveting. All in all however, between switching from characters in the past and those present, the book managed an enviable pace and a pretty engaging plot. The movie neatly skips almost anything associated with such devices as 'plot' or 'character development', and just rips through the rest like so much chaff. The outline of the plot is present as well as most of the major events.
The plot is servicable. There's really no visual effects to speak of. Some of the battle scenes are cool... what with it being dark, and fire, but that's not enough to redeem the movie. To damn itself even further, it's got some of the worst acting you can imagine. Paul Walker is just... Paul Walker. Believe me - that's bad enough. His father, the famous scottish archeologist, who manages to alternately lose and gain his accent throughout the entire affair, is anything but convincing. The rest of the them are just as bad, and some of them aspire to be worse. There's no convincing performances to be found, and it damages an already weak movie.
The movie does have some good points, but they're few and far between. As far as it concerns the 'old france' part of the book, they've tried to stay pretty faithful. Fans will no doubt appreciate the battle sequences, and a few choice moments, but that's about it. The rest simply comes across as an ill-convceived attempt at making a movie solely to capitalize on Chrictons name. That didn't work out so good.
In general, Timeline manages to have the odd bit of entertainment, but in general is just a drawn out experimentation in bad film-making. It may appeal to a few of you out there, but for the majority - don't see it.