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A Sound of Thunder


A Sound of Thunder is a 2005 science fiction film directed by Peter Hyams and stars Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack and Ben Kingsley. The film was planned originally for a 2003 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 on the short story “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury. The film is about “time tourists” who accidentally interfere too much with the past, completely altering the present.

Plot

In the near future, time travel (referred to as “time jumping”) has been perfected but the process is dangerous and unpredictable. Charles Hatton (Ben Kingsley) creates a “Time Safari” service, offering the opportunity for wealthy clients to travel to prehistorical days and hunt dinosaurs; the expedition, led by Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) is set under very specific rules to avoid altering history: their targets are a set of dinosaurs that will imminently be killed by lava from an erupting volcano, frozen nitrogen bullets are used as ammo to leave no trace, and the party wears self-contained suits and told to stay on a floating path and to not touch anything. Further, all the guns are tied to Ryer’s weapon, and will not fire until he does so.

During one trip while escoring clients Eckles (William Armstrong) and Middleton (Corey Johnson), Ryer’s gun fails as their target Allosaurus rushes the party. Ryer tells the tourists to take cover while he corrects the weapon in time to kill the Allosaurus. Ryer removes the traces of their presence and quickly takes the tourists back to the present, unaware that Middleton had accidentally stepped off the path while taking cover. On a subsequent trip to the same point in time with a different group, Ryer is shocked to find that events have changed as the Allosaurus is already dead and the volcano has erupted too soon.

When Ryer returns to reports this, “Time Safari” is immediately shut down by the federal agency that oversees time travel technology. Ryer seeks out Sonia Rand (Catherine McCormack), the inventor of the time travel technology. Rand had long had reservations about “Time Safari”, and worries that events will play out as she had predicted. Suddenly, the two feel themselves caught in a wave front, which Rand later identifies as a time wave that is a result of the changes in the past. It causes the vegetation and animal life in her greenhouse to grow rapidly and dangerously, forcing the two to evacuate. Rand warns several more time waves can be expected, each affecting more advanced parts of life and eventually to humans themselves.

Returning to Time Safari, the federal agency works with Ryer and Hatton to send Ryer back to the past to try to correct it. Instead, the time travel leaves Ryer in the American Southwest during the 18th century; he quickly returns to the present as another time wave hits, knocking power out from the building and leaving the city covered in dense vegetation. The team’s technician Payne (David Oyelowo) discovers that one of the tourists on the earlier expedition came back from the past one gram heavier. Though such discrepancies would have been found with the required “bio-filter” on their return, Hatton had paid off a federal agent to avoid the costly process. Ryer and Rand track down Eckles and Middleton as they fight through deadly creatures that have come about due to the time waves. They confirm that Middleton had stepped off the path, crushing a butterfly on the sole of his shoe, and thus has altered history.

When another time wave completely severes power to the Time Safari time portal, the group realizes the only option is to travel to the nearby university to use its particle accelerator like a time machine to send someone back to intercept the original expedition and prevent Middleton from stepping off the path. The remaining humans struggle through the hostile terrain that the city has become, and soon only Ryer and Rand are left alive. Rand is able to make the modifications and send Ryer back in time just as a time wave hits, leaving her a catfish-like humanoid.

In the prehistoric path, Ryer successfully intercepts the hunting party while handing over a video recording he made prior to his arrival; with the group returning immediately to the future, this future version of Ryer disappears. Back in the present, Ryer observes the video tape from himself, and takes it to Rand. They agree that the video contains enough evidence to put an end to Time Safari.

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