Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

A Sound of Thunder

(USA, UK, Czech Republic, Germany, 2005)

A Sound of Thunder (2005) (USA, UK, Germany, Czech Republic) Here’s one more example of someone taking a classic SF story and totally ruining it. Every once in a while someone gets it right. Philip K. Dick has done reasonably well with short stories, though there are plenty of turkeys, too. Heinlein’s All You Zombies was made into an excellent, and totally faithful movie, Predestination. But not this time. Here they have totally murdered a Ray Bradbury story. Sadly, I suspect they started with the best of intentions, but didn’t know when to stop making changes.

The story is of a company that conducts big game hunts in time. They go after the most spectacular big game there ever was, T. Rex. But they have to be careful to not change the past. They can only kill animals that are about to die. Otherwise, the future might be changed. Or what they think of as the present, actually.

If there was ever a set-up 100% certain to lead to catastrophe, this is it. I’m not saying there could not be a company rapacious enough to get rich off a process that threatened reality every time they used it. A corporation will do absolutely anything for a profit, history has taught us that. And not alternate history, like the bizarro universe where Donald Trump won the presidency. (You didn’t think that was real, did you? Poor thing. You must have been terrified!) No matter how many precautions they take, it is inevitable that something will fuck up, some time.

In this case it is someone stepping on a butterfly 65 million years ago. This is right out of Ray’s story. When they come back, things are changed. And here is where the wheels come off. In the story, the returning time travelers notice the changes, but no one else does. Naturally: It’s a part of their history. Words are spelled differently, accents are different, someone else has won a recent election. (Not Trump. This isn’t that kind of horror story.) Smaller, subtle things.

In this movie we have “altered evolution,” and the world is being overrun by monster plants. Later, after botched efforts to change it all back, there are horrible animals, sort of a cross between a baboon, a turtle (high-velocity rounds bounce off their backs!), and an Alien nightmare. Which is so totally stupid. Everyone in this alternate future is aware of the changes. How? This would be a part of their history, and the Chicago we see being overwhelmed would never have come into existence.

There is much, much more wrong with this piece of shit, but I won’t bother listing them. Once you have made that basic, totally illogical change to the story, it follows that everything else will be fucked up. Sort of like going back in time and stealing Ray’s typewriter and writing a really, really dumb story, come to think of it …