In the year 2055 Time Safaris offers wealthy clients the ultimate experience, the chance to go back in time and kill a ferocious prehistoric beast. In order to preserve the timeline participants must remain on the specially constructed walkway and only kill a dinosaur that would shortly die anyway. But on the most recent trip something goes wrong and the team now face a literal race against time to restore the past before it destroys the present.
Originally scheduled to be directed by Renny Harlin this clumsy time warping action movie follows a similar fate to the majority of big screen versions of classic sci-fi literature. In other words it takes the premise, in this case Ray Bradbury's intriguing idea of time travelling big game hunters altering the present, but removes the intelligence of the source material, replacing it with the typical trappings of blockbuster flicks. This wouldn't be so unpalatable if the result was an entertaining slice of popcorn fun but regrettably A Sound of Thunder – the title now meaningless thanks to the changes from page to screen – is a film totally devoid of merit.
It would be easy to lay the blame at the feet of director Peter Hyams, a journeyman filmmaker who has never delivered anything above average and this much delayed offering is no exception. But to be fair his contribution is just one in a long list of flaws, most obvious being the not so special effects. Audiences, having witnessed the impressively realised dinosaurs of the Jurassic Park films, will find those that surface in this slapdash affair pretty laughable, as are all the monsters and unconvincing futuristic environments. On a videogame screen they would be passable but in a supposedly big budget movie they simply don't cut the mustard. The cast, playing a variety of clichéd characters including conniving businessmen and benevolent inventors, coupled with the illogical plot, don't offer anything in the way of entertaining distraction either.
Most time travel movies have a fair amount of paradoxes but here they make for some glaring contradictions and unconvincing plot developments – the travellers always go back to the same point in time but never run into each other until the story deems it necessary, the disruption to the past doesn't create a new future but changes happen sequentially via so-called 'time waves'. Granted time travel logic is purely theoretical but it all adds up to an unconvincing narrative in a careless and ill-conceived script that will doubtless annoy fans of time travel fiction.
A Sound of Thunder really deserves some praise for turning an interesting idea into one of the most inept cinematic offerings of recent years. On all levels this film is a failure and needles to say a below par adaptation of Bradbury's short story. If time travel ever becomes a reality the maiden voyage's destination should be the making of this film, on a mission to stop it at all costs.