A Sound of Thunder (2005)

Nomination Year: 2010
SYNOPSIS:  This movie had just about everything that a sciency B-movie needs these days.

Based on well-known short story by a famous author? Check.

Misuse of modern CGI technology to simulate the look of the future? Check.

Sir Ben Kingsley mugging and having a good time while daydreaming of the yacht he's going to buy with the money he got for being in this? Check.

Dino-monkeys? Check.

Does the time travel involve vaguely insulting science-like talk with no actual attempt at science? Extra check.

Lots and lots of dino-monkeys? Oooh, yeah. Check and mate.

Loosely based on Ray Bradbury's 1952 short story "A Sound of Thunder," this film revolves around Time Safari, Inc. They take ludicrously-rich people into the past to hunt an allosaur. They have their own force field generator thingy that creates a safe pathway in the past. Nothing is left behind (the bullets are liquid nitrogen, which dissolve on their own), and nothing is taken to the future (the time machine has a bio-filter that make sure what happens in the Cretaceous stays in the Cretaceous). But just to be sure, you must stay on the path!

Of course, one of the rich idiots doesn't. Something goes wrong, and he accidentally steps on a butterfly. Now, with a volcano five minutes from erupting, you wouldn't think the death of one butterfly would be a big deal. Oh ho ho, this is because you know nothing about the necessities of the script complexities of evolution.

The present starts to change, in weird ripply time waves. At first it's just the climate, then the vegetation, then the lower forms of life (dino-monkeys!), then finally humans. This is because they wanted to make the movie jungle-like yet also urban for reasons of science(!).

Humans are affected last because humans evolved most recently. It has to be true. A scientist said it.

Anyway, there is a race across town to figure out what was changed in the past. They encounter lethal plant-life with thorns that drive men mad! And also, this is when we first run into the roving packs of dino-monkeys. The protagonists end up in a futuristic garage arguing about how best to steal (what must be) the Hummer of the Future. "It has a sonic lock," says one scientist. "If I had some sort of auditory wave generator, I could break into it." They natter on about this, while the expedition's doctor uses his futuristic gun to smash in the driver's side window. He climbs into the car, and suddenly it roars to life. Everyone else looks at him quizzically, and he says, "How do you think I put myself through medical school?"

As the movie goes on, their numbers decline due to dino-monkey (and other) attrition until finally it's down to the chick scientist and the guy scientist. The chick scientist jerry-rigs a time portal out of a nearby particle accelerator (don't ask; just don't), and the guy scientist takes the roller-coaster ride through time to warn/stop the first team, but in such a fashion that will keep events from repeating. And oh yeah, he'll only have about twenty seconds to come up with something.

In the original story, the title refers to the sound of gunfire. In the movie, though, the futuristic weapons made weird little pswee! noises. The time waves are pretty much silent. I don't think there is even any thunder thunder in the movie.

"Alas, Poor Yorick"

One ... Tw--
The three survivors are in a subway car, which has suddenly become submerged. They're waiting for the tunnel to finish filling with water, so that they can open a window and swim out, and to an access hatch. Suddenly, a giant eel-like creature breaks through a window and snatches up Julie. Guess the time to leave is now!

Deus Ex Machina

Let us leap to safe-tree!
The flesh-eating bugs are swarming at the scientists. They have little choice but to jump out her (penthouse) window, and to certain death. They do so, but find themselves landing in the branches of a giant tree which reaches almost all the way to the top of the penthouse. This is very peculiar. As one scientist points out when they get to the ground, "that tree wasn't there this morning."

Worst Science

Wave Goodbye!
The reason that things are changing a bit at a time? Are you ready for this? Straight from the mouth of the most expert scientist in the world. The one who invented the computer that makes the time travel possible.
Time changes in waves. With each wave, a higher life form changes. So, first it's the environment, then it's the plants, then the lower mammals, and so on. The last wave of change will be humans, because we were the most recent species to evolve.
Sigh. It must be true! A scientist said it!

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Ben Kingsley won an Academy Award playing "Gandhi" in Gandhi; has since been knighted, and is now "Sir Ben" 
Director Claim to Fame
Peter Hyams also directed Outland and 2010; was cinematographer for A Sound of Thunder (which I have to admit did look pretty) 

Kevin Hogan

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© 2011-2014 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.