Monster movies. Sadly, there seems to be no place for them anymore. Back in the day movies like 1975’s dino opus The Land That Time Forgot could be found in theatres doing fairly good box office. Despite its sub-par even for its time special effects, it and films like it had a certain wide-eyed / that’s cool kind of charm to them. A Sound of Thunder is exactly that kind of film, only nowadays instead of audiences being enamored by another blissful no-brainer monster themed romp, they’re shunning it.
That’s pretty sad, too. This film has been trounced by the media and fans alike. It’s even been rated lower than insipid drivel like Uwe “I’ve got a huge pair of cinematic-ally challenged balls™” Boll’s Alone in the Dark. To be honest, I have no clue why. The times, they are indeed a changin’.
Inspired by a short story by Ray Bradbury, the film starts off in the not so distant future. Scientists have found a way to go back through time via a process called Time Jumping. The folks behind this invention decide that a lot of money could be made if guided prehistoric hunting expeditions could be offered to the extremely wealthy. Time travel has never been a safe process, and even though it has been perfected from a technical standpoint, there still are rules that one must adhere to, the main one being not to touch or do anything that is not allowed by the guides. Travelers are to remain on the elevated Time Ramp the entire time, daring not even to set foot on the now ancient ground. Even the slightest infraction to this rule can result in chaos, and chaos is exactly what ensues.
One of the client explorers does something that ends up affecting the way everything evolves. As a result, ripples in time similar to a drop of water in a puddle are caused. Back in our modern times the effects of these ripples cause what come to be known as Time Waves. With each wave society begins to change. Climate, the environment, and wildlife quickly morph into that of a prehistoric landscape, and mankind is now way at the bottom of the food chain. However, it isn’t dinosaurs we have to worry about — at least not in the sense that we know them.
If there is one thing that A Sound of Thunder does right is that it piles on the beasties! We’re treated to some truly inspired creature design. Yeah, in some scenes they look fake, but overall they’re pretty cool critters. As the Time Waves keep coming, director Peter Hyams does a competent job of kicking the action and the monster activity into high gear by putting every one of the film’s characters on the menu. There were some genuine amusement park thrills and chills throughout, and not a moment passed that I wasn’t entertained.
Now let’s focus on the word entertained. This film is flawed. There’s no question of that. Some of the green screen effects are inexcusably bad. In some scenes characters seem to be marching in place to simulate walking while backdrops buzz along steadily. You simply cannot help but to laugh out loud! Then there are times when characters do things that are extremely dumb and hilariously stupid, i.e.:
“Sorry, honey! Your apartment’s infested with Dino-Bugs and Peter Hyams needs an action scene! Might as well blow it up and then jump out the window! Look out beloooooooooow . . .”
Not silly enough? How’s this;
“Look! A gang of Indians on horseback are coming at me! I’m going to be trampled! I know! Instead of jumping out of the way, I’ll just throw myself in front of them, thereby confusing my way to safety! It’s got to work!”
Mind you, the quotes are mine, but these are actual scenarios in the movie! It’s seriously funny stuff, but to be honest, it wasn’t even really that distracting. If you wanna talk about distracting, just look at Ben Kingsley and note his scenery chewing character’s striking resemblance to HBO’s outspoken political satirist Bill Maher! *cues Twilight Zone theme*
Is A Sound of Thunder a great movie? Not even close. Can I honestly recommend it? Maybe to the right individual. One thing that’s crystal clear is that this film loves the type of film that it’s trying to emulate. If you, the viewer, can somehow travel a bit back in your lives and get your mindset to a point where you could enjoy watching the late great Doug McClure fighting rubber dinos, then you’re all set to have a really good time! Huh? Who’s Doug McClure?! God, I am getting old. *sigh*
A Sound of Thunder (2005)
Directed by Peter Hyams
Starring Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack, and Ben “Why do I strangely resemble Bill Maher in this film?” Kingsley
2 1/2 out of 5