A Sound of Thunder (2005)

This is one of the most absurd movies ever made.

I love it.

It shreds the classic, near perfect Ray Bradbury story it’s based on into tiny, unrecognizable pieces.

I love it.

Its so called science makes less sense than anything you’ll find in any Fifties SF film.  And I do mean any of them.

I love it.

It moves with the relentless speed of an out-of-control locomotive, leaving the audience dazed afterwards wondering what the heck just happened and how its absurd science is supposed to explain anything that we’ve seen.

I love it.

This is the Fifties Sci Fi Creature Feature writ large, with a budget those classics and near-classics (and total flops) only dreamed of, and state of the art (for 2005) digital effects.

I love it.

There are movies so relentlessly dumb, so brimful of wacky ideas, so far removed from the mere everyday humdrum insistence on making sense or logic that they hack out a unique new “rationality” of their own.  This is one of them.

I love it.

This is the film Roger Ebert said would have been his favorite movie when he was in High School.  True, he was rational enough to only give it two and a half stars, but we all know that he had this DVD in his secret stash and probably watched it more often than many of the “Class” films he gave high ratings.  It’s that sort of film, a true guilty pleasure.

I love it.

It was, in fact, Roger’s comment that prompted me to watch this one.  I already knew that A Sound of Thunder made hash of Ray’s masterpiece of a story, and about its absurd notion of time waves so I didn’t expect much.  But Roger Ebert’s review reminded me of the the review he’d written only a few years earlier for another of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Core.  It got the same combination of a two star rating and a curiously gushing review and proved to be an absurd pleasure with totally ludicrous science, a film so aware of its B-Movie silliness that it actually called the newly developed material used to create its super Earth borer “unobtanium” (for the three guys out in Peoria who haven’t heard this one before, it’s an old Engineers’ joke).

In fact, watching it this time around, as they ventured out into a city suddenly overrun by new trees and deadly man eating vines, I also found myself reminded of another movie that came out not too long before which also put fun ahead of logic, Jumanji.  As in that film, each new “turn” unleashes some new peril, which tries to stop the characters from completing their mission.

But it really doesn’t matter that we’ve seen it all before, or that its gloriously detailed future Chicago is CGI enhanced, with the same stream of digital cars shooting past on every street.  What matters is that this is a film which so determined to entertain its audience that it’s willing to do almost anything to wow us, from time travel to dinosaur hunting to monstrous creatures to wild chase scenes (which, yes, do remind one just a bit of Jurassic Park, now that you mention it).

Edward Burns is amiable and as bland as a classic Republic Serial hero.  For a moment there, he had a certain Indie movie cred, but never really turned into a major star.  Ben Kingsley, however, is obviously enjoying himself as the head of Time Safari, Inc who is an impressively persuasive — yet a bit slimy — corporate promoter type willing to cut a few — well, quite a few, really — corners.  But then Ben is always fun in these sorts of films.

So shut your brain off for a while, grab that extra bowl of popcorn and turn all the lights off.  Just don’t go check on that strange noise you hear out in the kitchen.

You have no idea what’s going to evolve next.

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