Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Nights Of La Roque
Featurette-Making Their Own History
Featurette-The Textures Of Timeline
|Year Of Production||2003|
|Running Time||110:44 (Case: 115)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Richard Donner|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Imagine yourself in the Middle Ages . . . a time of fear and madness . . . Now imagine you CANT GET BACK!
This particular Michael Crichton film adaptation slipped past almost unnoticed on the big screen and was rapidly relegated to the local video store. Usually, films from this writer are released with such fanfare and commotion that they are impossible to miss. Jurassic Park, Twister, Disclosure, Rising Sun, Sphere, or even as far back as Westworld, it's hard to think of another small release from this author to compare with Timeline. This is unfortunate, as it is a fine movie and an even greater book, but I guess viewers get a second chance to see this movie now that it is available on DVD.
Professor Edward Johnston (Billy Connolly) is working on an archaeological dig at an ancient ruin in France called Castlegard. The Professor decides to fly back to the USA for a meeting with his financial backers from ITC (International Technology Corp), because they are starting to tell him exactly where to dig for the best results. This would normally have been just an inconvenience had the information not been so accurate and consistent. A few days later, during an excavation at the site, some members of the professor's team come across a pair of spectacles and a note located in a room that had been sealed for over 600 years. After some carbon dating on the spectacles to confirm everyone's suspicions, it becomes apparent that the dating is correct for the time period but they contain a modern glass and frame compound of the same make and design as the professor's. The note, which contains only the words "Help Me", further adds to the puzzle. The professor's son, Chris (Paul Walker), decides that the only course of action is to retrace his father's steps and heads off to meet with the sponsors of the excavation. Some of the others at the site are also concerned and Kate Erickson (Frances O'Connor), Professor Andre Marek (Gerard Butler) and Francois Dontelle (Rossif Sutherland) tag along for the ride.
Wealthy ITC boss Robert Doninger (David Thewlis) and his trusty scientist Steven Kramer (Matt Craven) explain that their suspicions are in fact true and the Professor is indeed back in 16th century France. ITC has been working on a 3-D facsimile machine and the prototype worked perfectly, sending objects from one side of the room to the other. Only when the full size prototype was built to allow transmission of objects across the country did the company realise that object matter was instead being transmitted in a Worm Hole back to the same time and location in France. The only hope to save the Professor is for his team to head back in time and bring him back. It is hoped that their familiarity with the site and 16th century France will give them an advantage. Just to make sure luck is on their side, a group of Marines are also sent back, however weapons are not permitted to be transported, thus not disturbing the fragile balance of the past.
Billy Connolly played an interesting part in this movie, and I must say I was quite surprised by the professional and realistic way in which he played his role, which really had me believing in his character. The only form of comedy from his character in this movie were a few one liners early on during a chat with his son. Unfortunately, Paul Walker played his usual woody self and was only made bearable by the strong supporting cast around him. The locations, sets, costumes and battle scenes all come together to make a very enjoyable movie which will be receiving numerous future viewings from this reviewer at least.
I admit that I was more than a little curious about the frequent mention of the great battle at Castlegard between the French and the English. Not being a historian, I actually had to go look it up only to find that Castlegard is a mediaeval place somewhere in Michael Crichton's head. Whilst I was aware that there are no islands full of live dinosaurs, no giant spaceships on the bottom of the ocean and no tourist worlds with robotic cowboys, you did get me in this instance, Michael!
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.
This disc contains a marvellous quality image with clear, sharp edges and lots of detail evident throughout the movie. Shadow detail is also well rendered, which is just as well as there are a few scenes where this could have been an issue. There is also no low level noise.
The colours were well saturated with a rich and ample palette being able to conjure up any colour required with great detail. Take a look at 72:30 to see a perfect picture which shows the high quality you can expect from the transfer. The French and British costumes are bright and fresh to look at. The backgrounds and sky don't miss out either, with every visible portion of the screen showing marvellous colour detail.
The only MPEG artefact I noticed was some macroblocking which affects the bricks in the castle wall at 79:17. Aliasing was an artefact that was not noticed for the whole feature even though there were quite a few areas of fine detail where I was expecting this problem to raise its head. Luckily for us it didn't. Film artefacts are rare and are in the form of black or white specks. It was the latter colour that was the most obvious when it appeared on dark backgrounds, so thankfully these are all small in size and you have to look hard to find them.
This disc is a Dual Layered disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 12 and 13 at 83:48. This was the only big issue I had with the transfer as the layer change was so blatantly obvious and distracting. Usually my Denon player makes it very difficult to locate the layer change but in this case I had no trouble determining its location.
There are English and French audio tracks on this DVD which are both available as Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.
The musical score by Brian Tyler was well mixed and a fitting choice for this style of movie. It had strong medieval tones and even the instruments that were used for most of the score are typical of the era's music style. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie. Jerry Goldsmith produced the original score which was not used for reasons I have been unable to confirm. Whilst he was asked to redo the score, he declined, which is when Tyler got the nod.
The surround channels were used to good effect but there was still quite a bit of room left for some additional enhancements in this area. Some areas were given more attention than others, but the one area that really shone was around the castle with echoes and frequent calling out coming from all directions to put you well-and-truly "on location". Ditto the sections where arrows are whizzing overhead, silenced only by the subtle thuds on either side of the battle as they find flesh. A good example of surround channel use can be heard around the 83:10 mark. Other areas focused more on the front sound stage, which may have been intentional to draw out the dialogue, but I felt that it left these areas just ever-so-slightly flat.
The subwoofer was not called upon a great deal with most of the bass being directed across the front sound stage. However, where the sub was required it jumped right into action, such as at 91:13 to 91:20 for explosions and catapults with marvellous effect. It was good to have a soundtrack that did not overuse this speaker, which meant that when it did appear, it had greater effect.
|Surround Channel Use|
This feature is broken into three different parts; Timeline (17:20), The Nights of La Roque (21:00) and Making Their Own History (6:53), which focus on production requirements, stunts, film sequences and effects. All are very well made and although rather short in duration, they do pack in a lot of interesting information which is explained by the lead actors as well as Donner and key people from behind the camera. I personally found the filming and stunt sequences at the castle to be the most interesting. Once you have seen the film you will have some serious respect for the fireball catapults that were used to great effect in the movie. This featurette is 16x9 enhanced, and has Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
Although Region 4 is missing out on a few things there is nothing here that I would personally swap the PAL transfer for.
I was not sure what this film would be like and can honestly say I was very surprised by and enjoyed the film. The level of detail given to some of the bigger scenes also added immensely to the realism of the time and location. This excitement is reduced somewhat when you see the featurette which divulges the many tricks that were used to make the scenes bigger than they really were.
The video is superb but due to a few blemishes narrowly misses out on a perfect score.
The audio quality is also of high quality but a little more attention to the rear sound stage and the subwoofer channel would have brought the audio up to reference quality without too much effort.
The extras are very satisfactory, and due to their relatively short run time can be viewed in one night if you decide to hire rather than purchase the title. The contents are rather interesting and these are definitely extras that are worth watching.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Whatmough Classic Series C31 (Mains); C06 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer|