2 out of 10


115 Minutes Of Saxon Violence

Just whose side did we fight on in two World Wars and the Iraqi conflicts? Anyone from outer space could be forgiven for thinking it was the English who gassed the Jews and nuked Hiroshima the way Hollywood goes on, with Timeline reaching new depths of depravity as a piece of raw racist Anti-English filth is chucked onto our screens.

A bunch of fresh young archaeology college kids race back in time to save their Professor who has become trapped in the 14th Century. Sadly though, this is not a team of Lara Crofts, Indiana Jones's or even Stargate SG1's, but a cluster of the usual Michael Crichton cannonfodder idiots who blythely make life changing (or rather more often as not, life-ending) decisions and then have to struggle to escape the peril only to dump themselves in another pile of doggy-do-do's with another callous, ill-conceived idea. For instance, upon their arrival in 1357, they are immediately attacked by knights on horseback, resulting in both the US Marines sent in to guard them,dying, just as we all guessed, like Star Trek ensigns. And just who are the heros up against? Another herd of velociraptors as in Crichton's "Jurassic Park"? No, this time it's worse...it's the English, shown as utter cardboard stereotype thuds, wandering across the screen, raping anything they can't stick a sword through and barking joke arrogant lines in a ridiculous "Cor-blimey" cockney accent.

So is this a reasonable portrayal of the English in 1357? 1357, did I say? Sounds familiar doesn't it, 1357? 1357. Yes, that's right it's 1357 AGAIN, a vintage year for Hollywood, for "A KNIGHT'S TALE" with Heath Leger is set in EXACTLY THE SAME YEAR, not just the same era, but much of it in THE SAME DAMN YEAR...and talk about being poles apart in their portrail of the English. It's hard to believe that the realistic, hardworking folk of "Knight's Tale", the Scottish blacksmith girl, the ingenious squires, honourable Black Prince, each striving to achieve their own goal in life are even from the same planet, let alone the same island as the morons strutting arrogantly around, drenched in the blood of innocent villagers and shouting "After them you fools" type of lines in this worthless waste of celluloid.

Furthermore, the whole film becomes ever more farcical as it proceeds. Clearly the wardrobe crew, drawn from where it was filmed in Quebec had their own axe to grind with the English and hootingly laughably, many of the heroic French foot soldiers are not carrying the insignia and arms of the King of France, but shields with the flag of Quebec painted on them, 150 years before it was even discovered. Maybe this is some bizarre subplot that was ill developped by the scriptwiters, that all the medieval swordsman are ex-"Bloc Quebequois politicians" who have travelled back in time looking for a job!

Throughout this mess strides the most curious feature of them all, a truly mindnumbing piece of casting, with Scottish comedian, Billy Connelly, playing the American archaeology Professor who survives in the fourteenth century by pretending to be... a Scottish comedian. No matter what happens, he just seems to sleep walk through it as if he's an alkzeimer victim who's been smoking up on something pretty, damn powerful...probably because that's the only way his agent could get him to sign up for this mindless tripe. How Paul Walker, with well-deserved hits like "Fast & Furious 2" under his belt, came to be dragged into this career-wrecking mire I have no idea, but he and Frances O'Connor (the dream girl from "Bedazzled" now in a nightmare of a role) valiantly battle to keep the show going despite a ludicrous script that includes the brilliant plot manoevre of having one of their friends simply refusing to cooperate with the company running the time machine and just spends the entire movie wandering around 21st Century high tech lab doing nothing in particular.

As the remaining audience move to escape from this slaughtering attack on their wallet, the rout is complete with an ending that is beyond obvious, as the French knights and the Yankie archaeology kids storm the Castlegard castle to free the maiden from the evil English, just as every member of the cast repeatedly told us all in reel one. Only the sheer and stunning grace and beauty of the Trebuchets, the ultimate in Medieval artillery comes as any form of saving feature and credit must be given to those who recreated these awesome and magnificent machines for the film.

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett