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DVD Review: A Sound of Thunder

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Final Grade: F-

Ben Kingsley, you won an Oscar and you have been in some successful films lately. Why would you agree to a script like this? Shame on you Ed Burns, I used to have respect for you and your acting. I have said this many times, but this is the worst movie that I have ever seen.

It’s the year 2054 and Time Safari, Inc. offers the rich and famous the opportunity of a lifetime. Clients are able to travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs. CEO Charles Hatton (Ben Kingsley) has employed the famed scientist Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) to lead the expeditions and the hunt. There are a few rules during time travel: don’t change anything and don’t bring anything back. But when someone gets a little too ambitious and breaks the rules, bringing something from the past back to the present, the present begins to change for the worst.

Forewarned by ex-Time Safari employee Sonia Rand (Catherine McCormack), Ryer realizes what has happened and races against time to stop the constantly evolving environment. Ryer and his team must figure out what was brought back from the past and then travel back to prevent the mishap. While trekking through the streets of Chicago, they encounter highly evolved bloodthirsty plants and animals and must fight for the survival of all mankind.

This movie is adapted from a short story by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury is considered the father of literary sci-fi by many, and I really have no idea why he would associate himself with a movie that butchers his work and his name. The screenplay adaptation of Bradbury’s story contains plot holes the size of my…never mind.

The entire process of the time travel revolves around counting on several events happening in order. Within the span of five minutes, Ryer and his team wait for a T-rex to approach and walk into a tar pit, and since he will die trapped in tar anyway, the team shoots the dinosaur to death. The team escapes into the time portal just before the five-minute mark and a volcanic eruption occurs. For instance, suppose the trigger of this evolutionary change was the death of a butterfly. The theory is that the butterfly never got to breed and create more life, thus triggering catastrophic evolutionary change. Wouldn’t the butterfly have died from the dust and debris of the volcanic eruption anyway? The other plot hole (pointed out on IMDB) is that if Ryer and his team travel to the same spot and time, wouldn’t they constantly meet multiple versions of themselves?

The estimated budget for A Sound of Thunder was 52 million dollars. Clearly, they couldn’t have spent it on visual effects because the green screen effects and CG were barely better than that of most TV movies. Maybe 25 million was spent on Ed Burns, who used to show his skills in good movies like Saving Private Ryan, Confidence, or She’s The One. Maybe Oscar Winner Ben Kingsley also received 25 million for his role, which would be the only explanation for his association with this movie. My guess is that another fifty dollars was spent on a green screen, and the remainder of the cash was spent on god only knows what.

This is simply one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Sadly, I wasted 103 minutes of my life that I can never get back. This is also one of the first DVDs I have seen in years that only includes trailers. It causes one to wonder why they would not include any production diaries or featurettes. Could this be a hint? I would say so.

The Upside:
I didn’t spend any money to see this movie.

The Downside:
There are people out there who have spent money to see this movie.

On The Side:
This film was originally set for release in 2003. One major reason for the film’s long delay is that the original production company went bankrupt during post-production and there simply wasn’t money to finish the film.

Breaking Down the DVD:

The Film: F
The Delivery: F
The Extras: F

DVD Stats:
Release Date: March 28, 2006
Starring: Edward Burns, Ben Kingsley, and Catherine McCormack
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Writing Credits: Ray Bradbury (short story), Thomas Dean Donnelly (screen story), Joshua Oppenheimer (screen story), and Gregory Poirier (screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence, partial nudity, and language
Country: USA
Run Time: 102 min.
Studio: Warner Brothers

By Brian Gibson, Associate Editor of Film School Rejects

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  • Steve

    Well, this film was far from perfect to be sure, but I would maybe have given it a C, rather than an F. It was an ambitious project (perhaps overly ambitious), and I thought they did the best they could visually with limited resources. I wondered why the release dates were changed, thanks for the info regarding the production company.

  • damn man – I guess you didn’t like this movie!

    I watched it this weekend, and actually enjoyed it. I guess I don’t look to hard into plot holes, etc. – Just enjoyed it for what it was!

  • Ty


    Where was the need in American Society for a whole movie drawn out of a short story?

    You want to see “A Sound of Thunder?” Pick up the complete DVD box set of the Ray Bradbury Theater TV Series.

  • Steve

    Thanks for the tip, Ty. I think what you said does suggest that Hollywood is simply redoing old ideas because they are running out of new ones.

  • I enjoyed this film and would rate it a 2.5/5 or possibly even a 3/5. The animation reminded me at times of Tron. I go for stories over special effects and I enjoyed the basic concept. They could have made it better if it was given a Spielberg-type budget, I suppose.