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Oh Goodness, Such Badness!

Warning: 'A Sound of Thunder' is god-awful good.

Dorothy Woodend 9 Sep 2005TheTyee.ca

Dorothy Woodend is the culture editor for The Tyee.

She has worked in many different cultural disciplines, including producing contemporary dance and new music concerts, running a small press, programming film festivals, and writing for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S. She holds degrees in English from Simon Fraser University and film animation from Emily Carr University.

In 2020, she was awarded the Max Wyman Award for Critical Writing. She won the Silver Medal for Best Column at the Digital Publishing Awards in 2019 and 2020; and her work was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Best Column in 2020 and 2021.

Woodend is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. She was raised on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake and lives in Vancouver. Find her on Twitter @DorothyWoodend.

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Dear reader, consider this a caveat. This is a spoiler deluxe, but I don't think it matters.

A Sound of Thunder may only last a short time in theatres; even now it's probably packing its little suitcase and heading out on the road. But before it slinks off, let's give it a big hand. This film deserves a gold plaque in the plague of summer stink bombs, reaching that rarified place of being so bad, that it leaps lightly over ridiculous special effects, finger painted matte paintings and execrable dialogue and lands on the side of good: as in entertainingly-god-awful good.

Summer is over, and serious film season is beginning. The Vancouver International Film Festival is coming at you, with hundreds of different offerings. So, put away childish things, pack the silly season in the trunk until next year and put on your cineaste hat... But consider this a memento of summer's last gasping grasp at your cash.

Picture a Hollywood casting agent gamely pitching the script for A Sound of Thunder to Sir Ben Kingsley (Academy award winner, Gandhi dude, Schindler's List boyo, a man who has acted up a storm since he was in nappies.)

Coolwhip and SUVs

"Hey Sir Ben, I have to call you that right? Great…yah, I loved you in that Spielberg thing. Sexy beast, too. Grrrrr. Great, great work, I mean really amazing. Yah, I think we have something you're really gonna love. Now, it's not Nazi Germany but you know it's got some real edge, some serious ideas. Stuff that really makes you think.

"Okay, it's like this, it's 2055. You play this really rich guy, and you have, like, amazing, cool white hair, like someone poured a tub of Coolwhip on your head and combed it over, beautiful. You wear these really nice suits that are like from 1942, only it's in the future, so you know they're new.

"Okay, you're super rich because you invented, well you didn't invent it, you stole it from this really hot chick with an English accent, and you can tell she's smart and hot because most of the time she's, like, a super bitch. She's English too. Maybe you know her, Catherine McCormack? No? Anyway, you start this company called Time Safari where you send rich guys back into the past to hunt dinosaurs except every time you kill the same one, with these, like, ice bullets that melt and then this volcano blows up and buries the dinosaur in ash, and you have this really cool computer called Tammy. I know it sounds like a hooker name, but the really hot English chick invented it, so you can pinpoint where you're going back to the millisecond, with these big turbine things.

"The special effects are AWESOME! Oh, sorry did I spit you a little there? I mean I guess you could go back to whenever you want to, like hang with Michelangelo and that Da Vinci Code guy, except you know it's, like, the past so you can't change anything there or like bring anything back because that could really be bad and time could get all weird, because, if you change the past, the future could be changed too."

[Long pause to think about the implications of time travel].

'Dino doo doo'

"Anyway, so on this one jump you got these really obnoxious rich dudes, only one's really scared and the other is razzing him about having balls the size of BB's. Hahahhaha. Yah, I know the writing's really great, this Bradbury dude, he's cool.

"Well, there's a malfunction on the gun and the big Tyrano is going to eat someone, so the leader scientist is running around yelling and telling the guys to like hide, so they take off. And finally they come back and you think everything's okay, but then there's this footprint, and it looks like someone stepped in something. No, not dino doo. I dunno, that doesn't matter, right?

"So when they get back, at first everything is cool, but then weird stuff starts to happen. It gets super hot and all these crazy plants start popping out of everywhere, and people are all bugged out. So the head scientist guy, did I tell you we got Edward Burns? What!? You never heard of him? Oh, man he's gonna be huge... Yah, so he goes looking for the super hot English chick, and she lives in this really amazing apartment, with a shotgun. I mean girls and guns, it's just so friggin' hot!

Plants and other weird stuff

"So she tells the guy that somehow time got changed and now there's like these ripples in a pool, spreading out and when they hit everything gets all changed, and more plants and weird stuff starts happening, so they decide they gotta go back in time and like fix whatever happened. But they don't know what it was, so they have to find the two rich guys, and by then everything is seriously fucked up, because another time wave hits… It's like this big umm.. wave...I mean it really looks like a wave because you know it IS a wave, only it's a wave in time get it?"

"Okay, now this is the really cool part. Do you ever watch that show on the Discovery Channel where they CG all these really freaky animals from when the dinosaurs were around? Great show, really awesome. Okay, so picture that except this time, the animals are like part dinosaur and part monkey, they're like orangutangasaurus, and they attack everything, because they're smart, like us.

"So the guys are heading out in the park at night, and they get attacked by these like thorn bushes that can move and they inject you with some weird stuff and you go nuts. Well, the expendable black guy is the first to go, because you know that's how it works, but the leader is still all tough, saying stuff like "let's keep moving" and they run all the way to the rich guys place, but he tells them it's the other rich guy so then they take off in his SUV. Oh, it's the future but everyone drives SUV's did I tell you that already? They drive all the way to get the other guy, except he's gone all nuts from the thorns, and then they find his boot.

Stepping on evolution

"Okay, this is good, he stepped on a butterfly in the past and squished it and that was enough to change the whole freaking world, and then they say "You stepped on evolution!" I love that line. "You stepped on evolution," and squashed that fucker flat. Hahahahha.

"So then they decide to drive back to the place Time Safari building, except that these giant bats attack them, and then another time wave comes, and they crash their car right into the lobby, but all the equipment wrecked and there's like a foot of water everywhere and the orangutangasosaurus…Did I tell you they sleep like bats too, and they're everywhere all over the ceiling? Oh yah and your character is dead now, and they get computer program, that's right Tammy, and they go in the subway and it collapses, and there's some giant underwater lizard that eats them and they almost drown.

"But then the lizard gets squished right at the last moment and then they finally get to the English chick's lab at her house, and the dude goes back in time. And another time wave hits and the English chick turns into this like giant catfish alien, and then the guy saves the butterfly. But then he realizes that unless he tells himself about it in the future, the same thing will just keep happening again and again, so he gets the other hot chick to videotape him. And then everything is cool again. And all the people who got killed, that includes you, are really not dead, everything goes back to normal and people can drive their SUVs again.

"So yah... what do you think, Sir Ben?

"I'm in."

Dorothy Woodend reviews films every Friday for The Tyee.  [Tyee]

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