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12/3/2003 What is more escapist? "The Haunted Mansion" or "Timeline?" - CinemaDave

Mar. 31st, 2005 08:41 pm 12/3/2003 What is more escapist? "The Haunted Mansion" or "Timeline?"

Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) is a workaholic real estate agent who is partnered with his wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason ). The Evers have two children, Megan, a tom boy (Aree Davis) and Michael (Marc John Jefferies), who suffers from arachnophobia. When Mrs. Evers is contacted by Ramsey the butler (Terrence Stamp) about selling the Gracie Mansion, the family delays a family vacation. The cliches mount when the Evers visit the mansion. A storm breaks, the road is washed out and cell phones do not work. Things go from bad to worst when the family becomes separated and a ghost decides to get jiggy with Mrs. Evers.

"The Haunted Mansion" is a fun movie from beginning to end. Eddie Murphy is in top form, mixing his street smart comedic profile with that of old style comedy of Skelton Knaggs and Mantan Moreland. Murphy reacts well to the special effects of ghosts, goblins and the barbershop quartet of marble busts. Terrance Stamp steals sinister scenes with a subtle nuance.

While "The Haunted Mansion" is rated a mere P.G., the film has a sequence that is well done, but may be too intense for young children. This sequence in a crypt involves zombies, ghosts and spiders. This sequence is well done because there is a psychological component about confronting one's fears.

"Timeline" is based on the best selling novel by Michael Crichton, the author of "Jurassic Park" "" "Congo" and "The Andromeda Strain." While the scientific hypothesis is different with each story, the plot remains the same. A group of scientists make a scientific discovery and must race against time to prevent this scientific discovery from getting out of control.

This time, the scientist are archeology students who are excavating the ruins of a 14th century castle in the Dordogne Valley in France. The team leader of the excavation site, Professor Edward Johnston (Billy Connolly) disappears into the past. Johnston Junior (Paul Walker) and his love interest Kate (Frances O'Connor) discover a worm hole that acts like a time traveling fax machine.

The archeology students visit the 14th Century to rescue Professor Johnston. Old fashioned romance and cold corporate intrigue begin to divide the time traveling team. Professor Andre Marek (Gerard Butler) develops a crush on a legendary French icon, Lady Clare (Anna Friel). The sinister Robert Doniger (David Thewis) attempts to follow the unwritten corporate policy of the International Technology Corporation.

Parents and children were screaming, laughing and cheering the heroes of **The Haunted Mansion** while the audience for "Timeline" sat in respective silence. "Timeline" may be best appreciated on DVD. The difference between "The Haunted Mansion" and "Timeline" is that the former is written for the heart, while the latter is written for the head.

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