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Warner Bros.

Official Site

Director: Peter Hyams

Producers: Moshe Diamant, Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin

Written by: Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer, Gregory Poirier

Cast: Edward Burns, Ben Kingsley, Catherine McCormack, Jemima Rooper, David Oyelowo, Wilfried Hochholdinger, August Zirner, Corey Johnson


The 80-million-dollar film that wasn’t.

The story behind the making of The Sound Of Thunder is far more interesting the film itself, which really isn’t saying too much as the film is easily one of the year’s worst; in fact the story behind the making of Thunder might make for a good movie. Too bad it would probably lead to lawsuit from Mel Brooks, as the true story of prolific, though hardly successful, executive producer Elie Samaha has too much in common with the film The Producers. A small item about Mr. Samaha (from http://dvddungeon.com/news/news.php?id=4260):

“A federal court jury in Santa Ana, CA on Friday awarded $29 million in punitive damages to the German film distributor Intertainment, after it had already awarded it $77 million on Thursday when it concluded that Hollywood producer Elie Samaha had inflated budgets of his films. Intertainment claimed that Samaha kept two sets of books, one of which was approved for public consumption; the other, for displaying to investors. As a result, it claimed, it ended up paying for nearly all of Samaha’s productions although its contracts stipulated that it would only be obligated to pay for 47 percent of them.”

So even though the reported budget of The Sound Of Thunder is $80,000,000 it’s no surprise that the film looks and feels like one of those Sci-Fi originals. It’s a shame that the movie’s phantom budget didn’t provide for any advertising as I would have loved to have seen commercials boasting “From the director of Timecop and the producer of Battlefield Earth…”

The film is based loosely on a Ray Bradbury short story of the same title. It stars Ed Burns as a hunky but disaffected scientist working for a greedy businessman (Kingsley) who runs a time-traveling safari scheme whereby fatcats of the future can travel back in time and kill already doomed dinosaurs. To play a time-traveling scientist, Burns hardly adapts his standard cocky New England wiseguy pose at all. Try to imagine Ben Affleck playing Indiana Jones. Even though it’s a dirty job we know he’s a good guy because he passes up the advances of his surrogate daughter/sister character (played by Rooper) in one of the films daffy, go-nowhere subplots.

Poor Ben Kingsley is forced to wear a ridiculous wig for his role as the greedy short-sighted businessman who runs Time Safari. I cannot think of another actor whose career has endured the vicissitudes of Kingsley’s. It’s not that he’s the first serious actor to turn to schlock for a quick buck, (indeed, Oscar winners Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters are the respective king and queen of slumming), but he manages to swing from one extreme to the other, from Schindler’s List to Species, from House Of Sand And Fog to Thunderbirds. How dizzying. One can only imagine what conversations with his agent are like. “Good news about the new Polanski film, and did you get a chance to read the Predator Vs Anaconda script?”

As I’ve said, the film’s production values are truly dire, the kind of CGI effects we would expect to see on television… 10 years ago, but that’s really no excuse for the rest of the film’s shortcomings. Hyams’ direction is too lazy to be described as pedestrian and the dialogue is full of horribly contrived pseudo-scientific nonsense. Though occasionally the dialogue is so stale it’s unintentionally funny. “Man that dude could sell art lessons to the blind,” says the one black character shortly before sacrificing himself for the team as per cliché. Ultimately, the only question worth asking about a film like this is, “Will it make me laugh?” I did, several times, but I can’t say that the film lives up that other Samaha disaster, Battlefield Earth, as no one seems to have believed in this in the first place.

—Edward Rholes

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