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A Sound of Thunder is a science fiction film released in 2005, and directed by Peter Hyams. The film was planned originally for a 2002 release. However, flooding in Prague (where the production was filmed) and other financial difficulties—- including the bankruptcy of the original production company during post-production[citation needed]—- resulted in a delayed release. A Sound of Thunder is based loosely upon the short story "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury. The film is about "time tourists" who accidentally interfere too much with the past and thus completely alter their present.

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[edit] Plot

According to the film, the established rules of time travel are:

  1. Don't change anything in the past.
  2. Don't leave anything behind.
  3. Don't bring anything back.

These protocols were established, in part, by businessman Charles Hatton (Ben Kingsley) who has recently developed a time tourism service called Time Safari. For an extraordinary price, Time Safari will take clients through a wormhole to a time in pre-history to hunt dinosaur game. Scientist Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) is the designated leader for these safari expeditions, along with several other guides. Only creatures that are doomed to perish—such as dinosaurs about to die in a volcanic eruption—are downed by safari patrons. According to the guides, this ensures that Earth's evolutionary timeline will not be disturbed. The safari participants embark on their time tours wearing camouflage fatigues, helmets with sealed faceplates (like astronauts), and armed with rifles that fire frozen-nitrogen bullets that dissolve so as not to leave behind evidence (another precaution to avoid disturbing the timeline). The wormhole itself creates a path that physically separates the party from touching the ground, and on which they must all remain or risk breaking one of the protocols.

On one excursion, the guides are escorting a party of wealthy clients that includes two friends traveling together. One of the men, who is extremely nervous, is surprised by a pre-historic butterfly which he tries to shoot when it flutters close to his helmet. He learns that his weapon will not fire, as all safari patron weapons are tied remotely to Ryer's. He alone can fire first, thereby deactivating the safety feature on the tourists' rifles.

The group gathers before a large tar pit, waiting for their prey. As scheduled, they are charged by an Allosaurus but in a rare equipment failure, the safety on Ryer's rifle does not deactivate. Neither Ryer or any of the safari patrons are able to fire.

Panicked by the attack, the two wealthy tourists run off to seek cover. Ryer and the guides stay to distract the dinosaur, while quickly trying to exchange gun parts in order to slay the beast. They are successful, and the party regroups to return through the time portal. Unseen by the party, a footprint of tar has been left on the path, indicating that someone has stepped off of it.

The next day Ryer notices significant climate and other small changes around him. On the next expedition, Ryer and a new party of time tourists arrive to slay the Allosaurus. As they wait for the creature to emerge, Ryer checks his watch, realizes it's late and that the Allosaurus should have already arrived. Instead, they find it has already died. Furthermore, the volcano, which erupts after the explorers return to the future, is already in the process of erupting, and they are forced to return to the present.

The Federal agency that oversees temporal travel opens an investigation and shuts down Time Safari in order to review protocols. Ryer seeks out Sonia Rand, (Catherine McCormack) the original developer of the time travel technology and the computer (TAMI) that controls the jumps. Throughout the film, Rand and Hatton are at odds. She believes that Time Safari is essentially playing with fire and she eschews her previous association with company.

Because the past has been changed, a series of time waves come from the past and sweep across the present. The first wave produces changes that drive the two from Rand's apartment. Rand explains that the sequence of changes created by the altered past will not happen all at once but instead will spread out like a series of ripples on the surface of water. Moreover, they will proceed in order of evolution: first the non-living physical environment will reset, then the vegetation will change, then wildlife, and finally humans.

Under supervision of the temporal agency, Time Safari attempts to send Ryer back to fix the past with the help of Rand. Ryer is sent back several seconds before the party's excursion that caused the rift. When he arrives, he discovers he's in the American Southwest and about to be trampled by an Apache tribe on horseback. Ryer ducks out of the way, but sees that another time wave is about to hit. He leaps through the wormhole, but just as he exits the time machine the wave hits, causing all power in the Time Safari facility to go out.

When back-up power is restored, the building and the city are covered in dense vegetation. The team studies a holographic recording of the original trip, but finds nothing. One of the scientists, Payne (David Oyelowo), discovers that the team arrived just over a gram heavier than when they left, indicating that one of the members brought back something from the past they should not have. It's also deduced that an administrator with the government agency that oversees time travel has been bribed by Hatton to forgive shutdown of a "bio filter," which screens out the transfer of organic matter, due to the great cost of operating it.

The team leaves the company building and they find the two clients from the jump, battling baboon/dinosaur and bat/pterodactyl re-evolved hybrid creatures as well as predatory plants, and discover that during the jump one of the tourists stepped on a butterfly, bringing it back to the present, and critically altered the evolutionary chain of all life on Earth. Another time wave hits just before our heroes reach the time portal to discover that it doesn't work. The party decides to try to reach a university possessing a particle accelerator, which can be modified to function as a time machine.

They manage to reach the university, attacked by a sea creature in the flooded subway system. Eventually, only Ryer and Rand are still alive. Inserting TAMI's mainframe into the accelerator, Rand manages to send Ryer back 65,000,001 years to dodge the time waves, after which he is sent forward one year to the point when the original explorers traveled into the past. In the present, the final time wave hits and Rand is turned into a catfish-like humanoid being. Meanwhile, Ryer tells Jenny (Jemima Rooper) about everything that will happen in the future. He stops the tourist from stepping off the path and killing the butterfly, and thus the future is saved.

Back in the present, Jenny gives Ryer the video of the alternate Ryer who saved the future. He visits Rand to show her the video, hoping that together they'll be able to put the time company out of business to stop such an occurrence from ever happening again.

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CastBen Kingsley, Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack, August Zirner, Jemima Rooper, Corey Johnson, David Oyelowo, Wilifried Hochholdinger, August Zimer
Genre:  Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date:  September 2, 2005
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
DVD Release Date:  March 28, 2006
Runtime:  1hr 41min
Studio:  Warner Home Video
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More A Sound of Thunder reviews
review by . August 19, 2010
   I came across this gem a few days ago and was just going to put a quick tip, but I think it's God-awful enough for a review.      To start, I was shocked to find out this was not a "Sy-Fy" original after I looked it up. I came across it this weekend after plopping down at 11pm in a hotel room at Lake Tahoe and it was one of the few channels getting decent reception. Would I expect anymore when the villains are dinosaur apes and an evil time travel company …
review by . August 25, 2010
Time Waves and Monkey Lizards. Yes, you heard me correctly.
Director Peter Hyams is no rookie when it comes to bad films. He has made more than his fair share. The best that can be said is that he’s an average director capable of decent work. His films range from acceptable (Outland and 2010: The Year We Make Contact) to forgettable (The Star Chamber and Narrow Margin) and ocasionally regrettable (Timecop, Sudden Death, The Relic, End of Days). None of his past films, however, reach the level of cinematic atrocity that A Sound of Thunder manages to …
review by . April 18, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Ray Bradbury is a great American author and one of the people that popularized science fiction into the mainstream a half a century ago. His stories and novels are widely read and studied. His stories would make great motion pictures if they were ever given the right treatment. Unfortunately, other than the Disney adaptation of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, none of his stories or novels has ever received the big screen treatment they deserve. One of Bradbury's most memorable and enduring short …
review by . March 30, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Ray Bradbury, run and hide! This tacky film version of his short story from the 1950s about time travel and the effect it might have on de-evolution is not well known from the theatrical run (did it have one?) and exists now as a DVD on the shelves released during a slow week.     What looks to be a fancy sci-fi thriller form the opening scenes quickly fools us as the computer generated graphics are re-run unaltered throughout a film that is supposed to be about different 'trips' …
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