A SOUND OF THUNDER
It's a century or so into the future; Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) works for Time Safari, a corporation that offers rich businessmen the chance to travel back to the prehistoric era for a dinosaur safari. Travis is conscious of the dubious ethics of his job, but sees it as a chance to collect DNA information that will allow him to revive extinct species of animals. When a safari goes wrong, however, the whole of present-day reality starts to alter. Travis has to put things right, with the help of his colleagues as well as time-travel scientist Sonia Rand (Catherine McCormack) who's appalled at the misuse of her original invention.
Review by Jake Wilson:
As a time-travel story, A Sound of Thunder doesn't exactly rewrite genre history; rather, it's an authentic blast from the past, an unpretentious B-movie which would have been perfect for one of the 24-hour science fiction marathons they used to run at the Valhalla cinema in Melbourne. I haven't checked the Ray Bradbury source material, but the idea of "time waves" - an altered past transforms the present, one stratum at a time - is so boldly unconvincing it might only make sense to an exhausted audience at 3am, when the mind is overloaded with junk concepts and the capacity for logic starts to slip.
That said, the literally visualised "waves" that sweep across the city and reshape its contours have a fanciful appeal, along with the other cheap anti-realistic digital effects: the 22nd-century metropolis, with its aerial freeways and chunky jeeplike cars; the newly evolved baboon-dinosaurs and sea serpents which the heroes have to battle. Peter Hyams, who has been directing science-fiction potboilers since the 1970s, is no unsung genius in my book, but acting here as his own cinematographer, he does show some flair for symmetrical sub-Kubrick compositions (in the first half of the film) and eerie light effects (in the second).
When it comes to the script, the lack of ambition is a mixed blessing, particularly once conceptual invention gives way to the inevitable series of chases and monster fights. Even the banter has a dated, ponderous feel, lacking the jaded self-awareness of a TV show like Supernatural - and these days, it's hard to get away with a scenario where a male scientist transforms into an action hero while his female colleagues simply follow behind. As the resident time-travel expert Catherine MacKinnon has a cool enough presence to keep her dignity, even if delivering nonsense explanations for everything seems like a less than rewarding role. Overall, this is more endurable than the new King Kong, though probably no better than a million lost artifacts confined to the straight-to-video vault.
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A SOUND OF THUNDER (M)
CAST: Edward Burns, Armin Rohde, Catherine McCormack, Ben Kingsley, Jemima Rooper, David Oyelowo, Wilfried Hochholdinger, August Zirner
PRODUCER: Howard Baldwin, Karen Elise Baldwin, Moshe Diamant
DIRECTOR: Peter Hyams
SCRIPT: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Gregory Poirier (short story by Ray Bradbury)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Hyams
EDITOR: Sylvie Landra
MUSIC: Nick Glennie-Smith
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Holland
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 9, 2006