A Sound of Thunder


A Sound of Thunder. Franchise Pictures 2005.

Before watching the movie:

I randomly found this movie on the shelf at the library, and I was intrigued. I’m somewhat breaking my rules for selections (I try to have a minimum age of ten years), but I’m very interested in seeing how this turned out. I have read the Bradbury short story this is based on, and I’m interested in discovering how they adapted it into a feature. My guess is that the characters have to battle through the alternate world they create, but I’m hoping to be surprised. For one thing, the happy ending they’re probably going to build to makes the title meaningless.

It also features Ben Kingsley, so there’s that.

After watching the movie:

In the 2050s, viable time travel was invented, and of course it was soon developed into an expensive toy (presumably after the military was done with it). Charles Haddon’s company TimeSafari offers trips to 65 Million years ago for tourists to go kill dinosaurs, provided stringent rules for avoiding changes to the past are undertaken. The chance of changing the past is so grave that one of the original inventors of time travel, Dr. Sonia Rand, doesn’t want to be associated with TimeSafari. Sure enough, on one excursion something goes wrong. When they return, Travis Ryer, the scientist that leads the hunting parties, finds a world periodically rocked by “Time Waves” that update reality to match how things have been changed. Starting with the simplest forms of life, each wave will get closer and closer to erasing humanity. Ryer, Rand, and some of the TimeSafari team have to find out what went wrong, and how to fix it.

There was an attempt made by the script to make me care about the characters’ fates. Some small amounts of fleshing out are present, but they just come off as irrelevant. Why do I need to know about Ryer’s relationship with his niece/adoptive daughter? What does Ryer’s work with taking scans of extinct animals to be able to clone them have to do with anything? When the chips are down, there’s no evidence of his scientist/animal lover background in his actions against super-evolved dinosaurs.

The expansion of the story isn’t entirely in how they handle the way time changes, but it’s mostly in that. They spliced in a lot of action scenes to fill time. At first, I didn’t like the idea of time changing even more slowly than in Back to the Future, which uses the same “ripple” device, but it grew on me. Even the silly modern dinosaurs were probably better than the dystopian government I was expecting due to being too literal with the source. I like the concept of one timeline invading another, anyway. The fact that it was changing “from the least advanced to the most advanced lifeforms” didn’t even bother me that much.

What bothered me more was Ben Kingsley’s accent. Yes, I’m going to talk about accents again. He’s a relatively minor character, especially once the action gets going, but that earlier portion was where it slid around. I couldn’t tell originally if he was doing American Midwest, American South, or in one scene, “Australian who spent a lot of time in America.” Apparently there have been complaints about his hair, too. Other than the white caterpillar on his chin, I was fine with it.

Finally, effects. I was impressed with the time travel effects and Timewave effects (though in every one of them they had an excuse to get something airborne to fly through the air slowly), and the futuristic scenery was very nice when it didn’t have to move. The cars seemed off somehow. My guess is that they weren’t animated with the appropriate weight in mind. The dinosaurs (prehistoric and modern) just looked awful by comparison. My roommate said he’d seen better graphics in some low-resolution games.

Overall, this movie was fun, but got kind of boring in the middle, when it was supposed to be exciting. It overcame a lot of problems to get to release, and did a lot for what was probably a relatively low budget. The expansion work done to the original story was almost cohesive, and the time issues were interesting.

Watch this movie: when the store’s out of The Butterfly Effect.

Don’t watch this movie: if you’re a big fan of Kingsley’s “Gandhi”.

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