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A Sound of Thunder
2005 - PG-13 - 103 Mins.
Director: Peter Hyams
Producer: Moshe Diamant, Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin
Written By: Ray Bradbury, Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshu Oppenheimer, Gregory Poirier
Starring: Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack, Ben Kingsley
Review by: Chris Beaumont
Official Site: asoundofthunder.warnerbros.com/
   

Nice guns.....
The latest time travel film to grace the big screen has the advantage of being based on a short story by Ray Bradbury. Sadly, it is not among the better films using that particular plot device. Peter Hyams helmed this long suffering production which began shooting way back in 2002.

The plot itself is simple, and plays on the thought that the smallest change in the distant past can have catastrophic consequences on what you know as the present. On paper it is an intriguing concept. The thought that one broken blade of grass, one swatted insect, could irrevocably alter my reality can be mind blowing. That is why this movie is so frustrating; it squanders that great premise in a wave of poor special effects, bad acting, and logic gaps which will give anyone a headache.

It is the future, 2055 to be exact, and time travel has been discovered. Instead of being used for the betterment of all mankind, one millionaire with a thirst for more is using it to his own gain. "Time Safari" it's called: rich men are taken 65 million years into the past to hunt an Allosaurus, complete with a commemorative video documenting their adventure. At first all goes well, but after a couple of jumps something happens and things start going wrong.

Before we get any further, I guess we should take a quick look at our major players. First up is Travis Ryer, played with a flat sleepiness by Edward Burns. He is a doctor looking to reconstruct the DNA of animals lost over time. He is joined by Sonia Rand, played by Catherine McCormack. She was the mind behind the creation of TAMI, the time traveling computer. Finally, there is Charles Hatton, played with an over the top verve by Ben Kingsley. He is the man pulling the strings and making the money.

Sonia knows the level of danger inherent in time travel, and because of her knowledge, Hatton shuts her out of the project. Ryer, on the other hand, feels that what they are doing is adequately safe guarded against that unwanted potential. Of course, nothing can be completely safe, and a change is made.

Back in the present, we watch as tidal waves of time changes sweep over the world. Each wave brings new changes, plant growth, strange animal hybrids, most notably a lizard/baboon. Our team frantically searches for what went wrong, what got changed, and how can they fix it. It is a frantic race against time as they are teetering on the edge of unknown evolution. As I write that, and reread it, it sounds pretty good.

What went wrong? The basic concept is solid, the story on top of that is workable, even the cast is decent. It's kind of hard to put a finger on it, but I have a feeling that this was under outside influences conspiring to its failure from the start. Originally there was a different director and star attached, plus the original producing company went bankrupt, and if that wasn't enough, shooting was severely hampered by major floods in Prague in 2002. But that's really besides the point.

The first thing that will become abundantly clear is the severely sub par effects. They are among the worst I have seen from a Hollywood production. I can be very forgiving on the effects front, but they have to have the energy and feeling behind them to convince me to believe them. This film does not have that energy, and the bad effects stand out like a sore thumb. There are scenes with characters walking through this future world where it appears that they are on treadmills, the cars drive by, all at the same speed, a dinosaur that is about as convincing as a video game. They are simply awful. The story, as good as it is on paper, doesn't hold water. The world is populated with paper thin characters, a script that relies on to many coincidences, to the point where I am unable to suspend disbelief.

Bottomline. This is just a flat out bad movie, a squandering of a great concept, filled with those holes and coincidences which do nothing but sink the best of intentions. I went in hoping for a fun ride through time, I left shaking my head at how disappointing it turned out to be.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

 
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