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2055, Charles Hatton has made a fortune by founding 'Time safari', which offers rich 'big game hunters' short time travels to kill off dinosaurs just before their natural death. When Travis notices the weather and wildlife are not behaving as usual, he consults Dr. Rand, the contractually invisible inventor of the supercomputer which controls the time travel. They soon face 'time waves', each worsening the effects in 2055 of evolutionary distortions, lower lifeforms first. They attempt to identify and rectify the past alteration, but each attempt gets harder in their distorted present. Written by
USAToday.com called it: "A story that is a pale imitation of a Michael Crichton novel." The Los Angeles Times said: "The picture looks as murky as its story line and most everything on the screen looks patently fake." CNN.com remarked: "'Sound of Thunder,' smell of garbage." But Variety.com summed it up nicely: "Every bit as bad as advance buzz has indicated..." And then some.
I first heard about this movie prior to its release on TVGuide.com's "Coming Soon" section. The single-sentence description suggesting a plot around time traveling safaris for the sole purpose of killing a Tyrannosaurus Rex that was going to die anyhow just seemed, well a bit loopy, at least for a major motion picture. So I read the short story by Ray Bradbury, upon which the movie was supposedly based and, even though I had a hard time visualizing such a story expanded to 2 hours of running and screaming on the big screen, hoped for the best. After hearing and reading all of the dramatically poor reviews by movie critics and fans alike, curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know if it was really that bad.
It is. It is every bit as bad. In fact, a half-hour into the film, I was completely alone, free to yawn, stretch, scream at the top of my lungs and move about the theater.
The basic premise is relatively simple, as it was a short story to begin with. In the year 2055, time travel has been patented by a greedy businessman played by none other than Sir Ben Kingsley (as he's credited), sporting a white wig that one movie critic likened to a lump of cotton candy, and yet another likened to a massive White Persian cat perched atop his head. I prefer the latter analogy. Time Safari, Inc. offers rich people a chance to travel 65 million years into the past to kill not hunt dinosaurs already predestined to die at the same place and time. As long as the merry band of time travelers remains on a path resembling transparent liquid metal that hovers above the terrain and do not interfere with the environment in any way, history and evolution as we know it are still preserved. Of course, the rigid controls supposed to be in effect are futile against a cowardly inept rich snob who carelessly stomps on a butterfly.
The Butterfly Effect is, of course, the theory that maintains that a butterfly's wings flapping on one side of the earth could eventually cause a hurricane thousands of miles away. In the movie, the effect causes ripples in time, i.e. a tidal wave in the form of a series of 'Time Waves' that exactly resemble and mimic the aquatic version, visibly sweeping over the Windy City at distant intervals and knocking the main characters around in Matrix-like slow motion shots. Immediately following each successive time wave, hideous distortions abound in the form of primordial and deadly vegetation, half-primate, half-reptilian creatures with the need to feed (on humans), giant reptilian bats, and not to be outdone, a brief cameo by the man-eating scarab beetles of 'The Mummy' fame. Seriously.
But enough about the pathetically stupid script. I wanted to know if the special effects were really as bad as people claimed. At one point, the camera tracks the two main stars, Edward Burns and Catherine McCormack, as they cross a busy futuristic street in one of the worst on-screen examples of green-screen effects I have ever witnessed in a big budget movie. I can't readily explain it with words when you see it, you're simply distracted by how fake it is the rendering, even the lighting contrast. In another reckless green-screen scene, Burns and co-star Jemima Rooper, whose native British accent keeps resurfacing throughout the movie, are supposed to be walking along a sidewalk and immersed in conversation, but are instead spitting out stupid dialogue while obviously stationary on a moving walkway. It's as if someone pulled the plug on the computers before CGI rendering was completed.
In Sum, 'A Sound of Thunder' is every bit as bad as the bad reviews have claimed. The script is stupid. The effects are deplorable. The acting? Who cares. It may not be nearly as bad as ''Manos' The Hands of Fate,' but I would definitely consider it to be the worst movie of 2005 (thus far), and the worst movie I ever paid to see in a theater.
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