Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Timeline The Book vs Timeline The Movie

I've had an interest in time travel for as long as I can remember and I love reading books and watching movies related to this subject. I even toyed with the idea of buying the time travel machine from an episode of 'Outer Limits' that was being auctioned off on Ebay. I never bought it though because it went for around $6,000. However, if anyone knows a good source for a flux capacitor or a hyper dimensional resonator for my time portal let me know 'cause I could sure use one. :>) In the meantime, I'd like this Time Machine for Christmas please:

The end of May last year Annie and I read the book 'Timeline' by Michael Crichton which was published in 1999. Crichton wanted to make a movie based on the book but the major movie studios would not back him because they felt that moviegoers just don't seem to warm up to sci-fi time travel period pieces where most of the story takes place at a certain time in the past. Crichton kept pushing until the movie was eventually made and released in 2003.

The plot summary of the book consists of a professor and his students on an archaeology dig to uncover the ruins of a 14th century castle. The professor leaves the site for a few days and does not return. The students soon discover that he has been wisked away to the 14th century (the year 1357 to be exact). The remainder of the book involves the students going back in time to attempt a rescue of the professor during a period in time when France and England are waging the Hundred Year War. Of course the devil is in the details of how the professor was sent back in time, how the students discovered he was there and what things were really like in the 14th century.

There is enough hard sci-fi, action, history, survivalism and romanticism in this book to satisfy almost everyone. Both Annie and I gave the book a rating of A++ (our highest rating being A+++ which has only been awarded to two books so far - 'Ender's Game' by Orsen Scott Card and 'Doomsday Book' by Connie Willis).

Now on to the movie. The critics really panned this movie and in fact didn't like one single thing about it. But then critics also panned 'Blade Runner' and 'The Sound of Music'. They said 'Blade Runner' was too dark and depressing and 'The Sound of Music' was too sentimental and fluffy. So much for critics. The movie follows the outline of the book surprisingly well although it has a tendency to spin though the book elements too fast. For example at the beginning of the movie we inadvertantly find that the ITC Corporation has just invented time travel through use of a worm hole which is accessed by quantum computers. Say What? Thats why I would highly recommend you read the book before watching the movie so you can easily fill in the gaps which makes the movie much more enjoyable. What I like most about the movie is the fact that the director made an obvious attempt to interpret what it would be like for a bunch of 'moderns' to be suddenly dumped in with the 'locals' of the 14th century. Upon arrival the 'moderns' find themselves in the middle of a battle and react in a hectic and confused manner just like you would expect them too. When the French soldiers speak in French there are no subtitles as you would expect if you were there. There were also some surprisingly good action sequences and even some decent acting for most of the cast with only one glaring exception (you'll know her when you hear her).

'Timeline' is by no means a 'Blade Runner' and the book is definitely superior to the movie. But if you're a time travel buff like me, you'll find this movie makes for some good popcorn chomping and is actually fun to watch.

Timeline the book Timeline the movie

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