A Sound of Thunder (2005)

What exactly is the sound of thunder? If this movie is any indication then it’s the sound of moviegoers thundering towards the exit, demanding their money back. Yes, the movie is that bad.

“Hey Johnny, how bad is it?” This movie is so bad that Ray Bradbury wishes he could invent a time machine so that he could go back in time and NOT write the short story, thus preventing this movie from ever being made.

“Whoa, that bad?” Worse. In fact, this movie is so bad that Ray Bradbury might kill himself just so he can roll over in his grave. I know you think I’m trying to be cute, but I’m being serious. This was one of the strangest movie experiences I’ve had in quite a while. The problem is that I went into the movie expecting to enjoy it. I thought it had the chance to be pretty good. So at the very start I was trying to make excuses for what was unraveling on screen.

The first thing to induce unintentional laughter was the fact that Ben Kingsley (the owner of the time traveling safari who’s only interested in how much money he can make) looks like Bob Barker. Nice poofy white wig, Ben. Oh well, no big deal, I can laugh that off. Then we’re introduced to the first CGI dinosaur of the movie. “Hmm, that sure looks really fake,” I thought. “Oh, I know! It’s supposed to be fake. They’re tricking the hunters into thinking the dinosaur is real, but it’s mechanical or something.” Nope. Imagine my sheer horror when I came to the realization that the dinosaur was supposed to be real. Wow. At this point I started to get nervous.

Then came the incredibly bad green screens. Folks, these are some of the worst green screens I’ve ever seen. My words cannot do justice to how fake they looked. Some might even say they looked faker than those things Pamela Anderson tries to pass off as breasts. When you can tell that the actors are walking on a treadmill then you have serious issues that are long past addressing. I was absolutely shocked at what I was witnessing. Honestly, I started to get confused and thought, “What in the world is going on? This movie cost $80 million to make, there’s no way it can look this bad.” Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and somebody must’ve had a strong will to make this as cheesy and as goofy as they could because I cannot come up with any other explanation.

I actually like the concept of the movie – the butterfly effect – the theory that something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings can produce long-term effects on a dynamical system. However, this movie presents the theory in the most outlandish, most unbelievable way imaginable. Sorry, but I just didn’t buy it. One of the scientists in the movie argues that if you kill a bee, then that bee can’t pollinate a flower, and an animal will not be able to eat that flower, thus that animal will die and can cause damaging long-term effects. Um, if “Flower A” never blossoms then an animal that’s hungry will just go find “Flower B” and eat that. I don’t think the animal will immediately die AND CAUSE HUMANS TO TURN INTO ALIEN-LIKE CREATURES!!! Come on.

So the movie decides to take the “butterfly effect” to the most extreme depths that it possibly can – fine, whatever. What *really* bothered me is it doesn’t care to explain why killing the butterfly resulted in the world being taken over by horribly rendered CGI creatures. It would have at least been nice to have an explanation as to why and how such drastic changes took place because of one simple butterfly.

The butterfly would’ve been killed in a volcano that erupts right before they head back to the time machine anyway, so how do you explain that? Well, if your name is A Sound of Thunder then you don’t. You just say, “Here’s the premise, now we’re just going to become a monster movie and have the good guys be chased by bat monsters in the dark.” Well, I’d be interested in hearing what’s said when this movie becomes one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) flops of the year.

At about the halfway point I realized that there was no need to continue to rationalize why the movie appeared to be so bad. I accepted the fact that in this case appearances were not deceiving and this was just a really horrible movie. If you can accept that from the start then there is plenty of unintentional laughter to be had.

Once our heroes started being chased by weird ape/bat/dinosaur hybrids, I just kicked back, laughed, and shook my head at the fact that the CGI is as bad (if not worse) than what you see in Sci-Fi Original movies starring Lorenzo Lamas and Michael Paré. I wish I were exaggerating.

I honestly don’t know how this movie was allowed to achieve such mediocrity. You know when one of the characters starts off with an American accent, then begins to fluctuate between American and British accents, and then eventually settles into her native British accent that everybody involved has obviously thrown in the towel and said, “Screw it, let’s just get this over with.” You would think that in the year 2005 a movie with an $80 million budget wouldn’t look more like a movie that was made on an $8 million budget. I’m sorry, but CGI this awkward on this size of a budget is just inexcusable. Way to go Hollywood. We can only hope a few jobs are lost over this disaster.