Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Sound of Thunder

This film was rooted deep in production problems, and at long last it has finally made it to screen. I got to admit I watched it because of the tacky theatrical poster of the dinosaur, less sophisticated than its US version of a fossilized butterfly. While I thought this would be another Jurassic Park, and kept my expectations low, it turned out to be a jolly entertaining movie, though a bit formulaic.

Based on a short story by Ray Bradbury, A Sound of Thunder is set in 2055 Chicago, where scientists have harnessed the power of time travel, and corporations capitalizing on the technology for the rich to embark on a Time Safari, going 65 million years back in time to hunt dinosaurs, in a controlled environment.

Wait, won't this disrupt the space-time continuum? Sure, and the movie tries to make up for its intelligence by explaining that only dinosaurs which are about to die anyway are hunted, and at the location of their death. Hence, the same scenario is being replayed each time for different groups of tourists. There are also strict rules involved to manage the risks involved, like not to touch anything, not to step out of their predetermined pathways, not to bring anything back, and even their weapons won't fire until it is safe to do so.

But as all things go, nothing is perfect in this world, and something does go wrong, which led to special effects laden "Time Waves" which sweep across the world, each wave bringing the next change in evolution. Futuristic Chicago gets swamped with powerful and massive trees, and new breeds of animals (I like the dinosaur-gorilla-lizard hybrid) are born, and they start to wreak havoc (nothing new here) on all of mankind.

So it is up to our motley bunch of scientists, led by Edward Burns, to sort things out and bring Earth back to normal, providing us lots of the same usual chases on foot and vehicles, sacrifices, shootouts and deaths to those who are unethical. More sophisticated themes are attempted, like corporate greed, corruption and chaos theory, but these are quickly glossed over in favour of getting on with the action.

Surprisingly, given the budget, the special effects for 2055 Chicago looked kinda fake, especially the cars, which are packed bumper to bumper and moving at constant speed for some reason. I suppose most of the SFX budget went into the rendering of the new hybrid of animals. The most notable A-list name is Sir Ben Kingsley, though I'm not sure why he would associate himself with his movie. Edward Burns and Catherine McCormack are the only other "stars" of the show, and it's a good guess that the unknowns get dispatched one after another.

As cliche as this may sound, leave your brains at the door if you want to enjoy this popcorn flick. Entertaining enough in that sense.

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