Timeline gets lost in the translation. Review by Eugene Neil
Fans of Michael Crichton should rest assured that the movie version has far less possibility of becoming a timeless science fiction classic than the literary work.
Timeline follows the story of three archeology students who go back in time to rescue their professor who has disappeared into the medieval past via cutting edge quantum technology. The book's description of the science and technology behind the theorized time travel is believable and clearly written on Crichton's part. Transported back to 1357, the characters find themselves in the midst of medieval warring factions. Crichton's writing makes you can feel the reality of these historical conflicts and the fear of impending doom at every turn. Both fans of science fiction and medieval history will enjoy this fast-paced read.
In the transition to film, I found that this story lost much of its depth and reality. The "wormhole" theory described in the movie version leaves the viewer wanting for a believable explantion of time travel, whereas I found the "folding" time theory from the book to be both technologically acceptable and feasible. The movie loses much of the sense of danger Critchton creates during the medieval sequences in the book. The "jousting and chainmail" mentality he depicts in the book heightens reader fears by showing a medieval devaluation of human life. This feeling does not carry over into the movie, rather medieval sequences rely on ordinary action movie suspense.
The storyline is faithful but the descriptions and depth of the writing do not get their just due on the screen, leaving the viewer unfulfilled.
Eugene Neil is an engineer by day and has been a science fiction aficionado since the 1960s. He has published several freelance articles in publications of local interest.