Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Sound of Pocket Thunder

Quote of the Day: “If Elvis hadn’t died when he did… well, he would have died a few days later. He was in pretty bad shape.” ~TV’s Craig Ferguson

Song of the Day: “Crazy” by Alana Davis

State of mind: oh… you do not want to know.

Date: 2/7/07

A co-worker gave me a DVD of A Sound of Thunder, which is based on one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories. It’s a cautionary tale of screwing with things we don’t completely understand. Yeah, cuz we heed those. This movie came and went in 2005 with barely a blip on the pop culture radar, but I was curious so I gave it a go. Plus, it was free.
The idea behind the movie is a good one, but naturally they screw it up. The Bradbury story ends with the horrifying discovery that time has been altered to the bad. That is a powerful way to finish the story in my opinion, mostly because it isn’t really finished. You leave the characters at the point where they realize they have to live in a new reality that they are responsible for creating. It’s a harrowing tale of human folly that really makes you think. However, the movie can’t have such an open ended ending. It’s against the rules. So our intrepid heroes have to fix what they broke. Fine. I’m all for accountability. If it had been done right, the movie could have been a lot of fun. Instead, its irksome that 60 million dollars was wasted on plot holes the size of New Jersey. The problem with this movie isn’t in what went wrong; it’s when it went wrong.
I’m going to totally ruin this movie for anyone who was planning on seeing it. Consider yourself warned.
This movie starts out like any Sci-Fi flick, with the gizmos and exposition. “Safari Inc” has the technology to whisk paying participants millions of years into the past so they can ‘hunt’ an already doomed animal. Three times the crew goes back to ‘kill’ one particular dinosaur just seconds before it gets bogged down and drowns and then gets obliterated by a nearby volcano. The first expedition shows off how scary it is for the uninitiated, and yet how blasé it is for the employees of Safari Inc. Everyone is instructed to stay on the path, so of course you know that means someone won’t eventually. A scary T-Rex (or something) comes crashing through the trees heading straight towards the group, tension builds, tourists freak, the crew stays calm, shots- which are nitrogen bullets so they will melt and leave no trace- are fired, and the animal goes down. Zip- back home so they can do it again. Only the second time, something goes wrong. * gasp * * shock * Uh huh. A third trip into the past almost leads to disaster because the machine sends them 5 minutes too late and there is a volcano that erupts and almost wipes them all out. That is where the problem lies: the all-destructive volcano. And here’s a question: if they travel back to the same exact spot to kill the same exact dinosaur, how come they don’t run into each other? That question is never answered.
The plot of the movie is based on the fact that on the second trip back some guy steps on a butterfly millions of years in the past and its death is enough to alter evolution to the point of ridiculous. (However, the gorilla-saurs were cool.) The only problem is that the butterfly lives at the base of the volcano that is going to erupt 5 seconds after he steps on it. What are the chances of that butterfly surviving that eruption if he hadn’t stepped on it? Especially with a thundering cloud of noxious gas moving at warp speed down the mountainside, killing everything in its path. So, how can a guy killing it 5 seconds earlier have such a drastic effect? That question is never answered either.
Now, if I could go back in time, there are plenty of things I would do, but maybe I’d make a pit stop to give the screenwriters my simple fix: don’t have the characters go back to the same spot all three times. If they don’t then there is no paradox. They can have the volcano and the butterfly, but they won’t be in the same place which means the butterfly would not have died anyhow which means it very well could have had a large scale evolutionary effect. Just a few extra lines at each new location and your done! How hard could that have really been?
The other problems some people have with this movie are the “time waves”. I actually don’t have an issue with them. The time waves are kind of genius actually. Changes happen slowly, which gives the heroes time to figure out what happened while at the same time building tension and fear of what will happen if they fail. Plus, it gives them a deadline. If they don’t fix things by the third or fourth wave, things will have been altered so much that they will never be able to correct it. Heroes need to beat a clock that is counting down. That’s also a rule.
Ok, to sum up it all up.
The good: Ben Kingsley in a Bob Barker wig. Jemima Rooper, who was also the only good thing in Hex, (with a backwards E.) And two characters have an argument with a holographic lion in between them.
The bad: how much sense it doesn’t make. And some of the special effects are silly. At one point it looks like the actors are walking on a treadmill in front of a cartoon background. For a moment I wondered if they hadn’t accidentally gone back in time to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
My advice: skip.

In other news: A new Drive promo!Woo hoo! And his character is from Nebraska! Is everyone from Nebraska that cranky? Who else do we all know from there? Hmmm. Think. Think. Think.

Show quote of the day: “Don’t make fun of my magic tricks.”


wa11z said...

The same thing bothered me with The Butterfly Effect. Wouldn't every time he went back it would change the diary entry? And the ones after it? Yet every time he read from it the entries are the same.
I think that is just an inherent paradox of time travel stories. Which is also why I'm so fascinated with them. A great book on the subject is Time Machines by Paul J. Nahin. Check it out if you get a chance.

trinamick said...

Now, now, you're just upset that Nathan & I are hanging out here in Nebraska drinking crown & Mt. Dew and watching Family Guy.

Nebraskans are delightful.

trinamick said...

BTW, did you ever see that time travel movie with Casper Van Diem where the people could visit famous tragedies, like the Hindenburg disaster? That movie was just comical with the plot holes.

NYPinTA said...

No, but I will definitely have to look it up!

Beth said...

Time travel. The slippery slope of worm holes and ... well, not sure what since I don't understand it at all.