Having read the Michael Crichton book not long before this movie came out, I was both interested and hesitant to see this movie. Interested because I wanted to see how well/poorly it was done, and hesitant because the book was good and I didn’t want my impression ruined.
Overall, Richard Donner did a fine job bringing the story to life. He kept the basic framework of the story and built a solid movie around it. The story moved a little quickly, if I remember correctly, the characters in the book have about 36 hours to get things done, and in the movie they have 6. And they seem to be 6 very long hours.
The movie still revolves around a handful of archaeologists transported back from the present into the past that they are studying: Castelgard, France, 1357 AD. In fact, the time and location they are working on is the scene of a battle between the French and English during the Hundred Years War, and, lo and behold, they arrive on the very day of the battle. Knowing what they know about the future and the outcome of the battle, they try to keep the overall outcome consistent, while avoiding getting themselves killed in the process.
After seeing him as the new teacher on Head of the Class, and seeing his stand-up routine, I found it a little hard to see Billy Connolly in a serious role, as the lead archaeology professor, but he pulls it off. Also, after The Fast and The Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious, it’s hard to see Paul Walker in a genuine role. While his character is under-developed, he’s acceptable as the professor’s son who is more interested in the female archaeology students than the project.
This movie gets 6 saltines out of 10 from the Big Cracker.