Begin your shopping trip with this link or any of the ad links below, and Howard gets up to 8% of what you spend at Amazon.com at no additional charge to you.
Thursday April 20, 2006
Movie Review: A Sound of Thunder
In 8th grade I read Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder." I loved it.
Last night I rented the big-screen adaptation and watched it with Sandra. It was nice to make fun of, but the punch of the original story was gone.
Also, the effects were very 1993. "Hey, we can make all these backgrounds and monsters and stuff on the computer!" Any scene with CG in it not only shouted "CG in this scene!" but also invited the viewer to play "how far back does the blue-screen begin" instead of watching the actors.
The "science" was your usual mish-mash of tech-fantasy garnished with unsupported plot devices.
In the original story the time-travellers return from the Jurassic to find that everybody is speaking a different language. One of the travellers finds a crushed butterfly on his boot. As I recall, the safari leader then kills him in anger, and the report of his weapon is described as "a sound of thunder." End of story.
In the film version we have "time waves" in which the effects of the squashed butterfly (which we don't find out about until the last 20 minutes of movie) propagate visually, moving across the landscape like tidal waves. They begin seeing plant growth throughout the city. Then come the bugs. Then the (admittedly very inventively constructed) velociraptor-baboons.
The heroine tells the hero that the changes are propagating beginning with the things that evolved first (plants, bugs) up to higher-order critters, and that the last things to evolve will be the last things to change. Humans, of course.
I've seen evolution misquoted and abused. There was that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where everybody got "devolved," for instance. Oh, and there was this kid in a chat room years ago who insisted that black people evolved from a different species of monkey than white people did. By comparison, I supppose A Sound of Thunder merely insulted evolution, threw some poo at it monkey-style, and then moved on to depicting the now-supposedly-justified absurdity.
Final plot hole... it turns out that the reason it's supposedly okay for them to shoot at an Allosaurus who has fallen into a tar pit is that the whole area is about to be obliterated by a volcanic eruption. They only have about five minutes from Allosaurus-in-tar to wall-of-burning-ash.
The volcano destroys everything... including, one might suspect, the butterfly.