1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Richard Donner
scr Jeff Maguire, George Nolfi
with Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Ethan Embry, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Michael Sheen, Matt Craven, Neal McDonough, Lambert Wilson, Marton Csokas
release US 26.Nov.03; UK 5.Dec.03
03/US 1h56

Changing into period outfits before the time jump: O'Connor, Walker, McDonough, Butler, Thewlis

walker o'connor butler
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Reading this as a Michael Crichton novel would be a tad more plausible than watching the movie, because putting these scenes on screen shows how deeply ludicrous it all is. It's about a team of present-day archaeologists--led by the feisty Kate (O'Connor) and the inventive Marek (Butler)--who set off in search of their lost boss, Edward (Connolly). The problem is that Edward is lost in the 1357 France! Edward's tenacious son Chris (Walker) joins the expedition, as do a few random guys who work for the company that accidentally discovered time travel while testing a souped-up fax machine. But there are numerous problems: the English commander (Sheen) is attacking the French village, a damsel (Friel) needs saving, and chaos reigns back home where their colleague (Embry) and a couple of scientists (Thewlis and Craven) are trying to get them back to the present in one piece. Or near enough.

Somehow that description makes it sound rather exciting, and it is to a certain extent. But the filmmakers go ahead and put scenes on screen even though they look laughably silly ... and this is not a comedy. There are strangely invented rules for everything, such as the sudden fact that they can't return home unless they have 40 feet of clear space around them. And the dialog is hilariously corny ("Do we look like quantum wormhole specialists?"). But there are things to enjoy as well; besides the general so-bad-it's-good atmosphere, some of the acting is quite decent (Butler, O'Connor, Friel) and hysterically bad (Walker as another meathead, Thewlis with the year's second-worst American accent after Michael Caine). And the first-rate cinematography and production values make a good framework for the general barbarism on display--with relentlessly vile English and sympathetically scruffy French, not to mention heroic Scots and stupid Yanks. Seriously terrible, but it'll be roaring good fun on video.

cert 12 themes, violence 2.Dec.03

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... timeline Lee Ann Perez, Kansas: 3 out of 5 stars "I'm a great history buff, I read books incessantly. I'd read the Crichton book knowing it was being made into a movie. While I'm a fan of Crichton's work in general, I felt at that time the book read more like a movie outline than a full novel. I enjoyed it, but felt it could have been fleshed out a bit. I went to view the film mainly to enjoy Gerard Butler's performance, but I did enjoy the whole movie as well. I will say it has a few plot flaws, having been edited rather severely in transition from book to screen. And I might have done it differently, putting more emphasis on characters important to the storyline rather than the box office line (eg, Paul Walker's involvement changed a minor character who was sort of a wimp anyway and not heavily involved with the story, into the main character who is now the son of the missing professor. He may be pleasant to look at but he is not the best actor in L.A. these days!) It might have been better served as a 4-6 hour mini-series, to include all the background and sub-plots floating through the main story. However, it's a fantasy film, not a documentary. It's meant to entertain, not educate. And I felt it did that. I wasn't looking for Oscar-worthy film-making. I went for a fun-filled 2-hour trip to the 14th century. In that respect, it worked for me." (7.Dec.03)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall