Late Night Double Feature Picture Show

While taking advantage of the previously mentioned store-closing sale at our local Suncoast, I decided it was as good a time as any to pick up a pair of titles that I had been considering checking out lately. I don't often buy movies sight unseen, mind you (though I probably do so more often than the average person), but at rock-bottom prices (50% off regular price), I figured why not? Besides, if I really don't like them, I can always trade them in at the local CD store.

The first of them is Timeline, adapted from a Michael Crichton novel. It tells the story of a group of college students whose archaeology professor vanishes on a dig, apparently ending up in the 14th Century. After confirming with a technology firm that's experimenting with teleportation that the professor was indeed whisked back to the past by accident, the prof's son is compelled to jump back to rescue him. Of course, it may have something to do with the fact that he's got the hots for one of his dad's students. Anyway, the group has a scant six hours to find and rescue the professor -- on the eve of an historically pivotal battle, no less -- and complications of course ensue, on both sides of the timeline.

It's an interesting story, and fairly well executed, though it's not particularly remarkable. The fact that it stars the studly Paul Walker I'd consider a plus, though he ain't gonna win any best actor Oscars anytime soon. I'd forgotten that Neal McDonough (the ill-fated Lt. Hawk in Star Trek: First Contact) was in it, and I always enjoy seeing him ... and thankfully we didn't see a whole lot of Billy Connolly. It's not that I don't like him, mind you ... it's just that the last thing of consequence that I saw him in was the sitcom Head Of The Class, in which he less-than-adequately took the place of Howard Hesseman, so I'm just not used to seeing him in any kind of dramatic role just yet. But anyway, bottom line: it was a reasonably entertaining movie, but I'm glad I didn't spend any more for it than I did.

The second of these two films is the one I was far more eager to see: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I had bought the comic book miniseries back when it was published, but I still have yet to read it (sad as it sounds, that's the case with most of my comic collection), although the concept has always intrigued me: a group of 19th-Century literary characters cobbled together as an ad-hoc superhero team to go after a madman bent on world domination. Imagine: Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, a now adult Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll, the Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, and Mina Harker (from Dracula fame), all together in one story, and going after a villain whose startling true identity is not revealed until the climax.

It was certainly an entertaining movie, though there was something keeping me from calling it "great" ... perhaps the plot meandered a bit and could have been a bit tighter. What wouldn't have kept me from calling it great was the always delightful Sean Connery as Quatermain, nor was the intriguing notion of a grown-up Tom Sawyer ... made all the more watchable by the extremely easy-on-the-eyes Shane West. I'm not sure why this movie was somewhat of a disappointment, because I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I don't regret buying it at all. In fact, I'm actually a bit disappointed that there in all likelihood will never be a sequel.

I also picked up one or two other sci-fi-related releases, which I'm sure I'll get around to discussing eventually. Too bad that Suncoast wasn't really worth shopping at until its going-out-of-business sale....

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