A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is dismally inept: the special effects are laughably bad and the plot is incoherent. What's more, it features violence in various forms: Time travelers shoot and kill dinosaurs, and they're menaced by variously mutated creatures (half primate/half reptile, flying batlike monsters, large roach-like insects). These scenes -- in the dark among trees, in a dark and flooded subway tunnel -- might be frightening for younger viewers. A couple's one-night stand is indicated by his emergence from the bedroom in his boxers, while she appears only partly covered. One character shoots himself in the head (not graphically, but obviously), and another sacrifices himself to a herd of creatures in order to save his friends.
What's the story?
In A SOUND OF THUNDER, ultimate corporate villain Charles Hatton (Ben Kingsley) owns Time Safari Inc., an agency that sends rich folks back 63 million years so that they can shoot allosauruses. Based very loosely on a short story by Ray Bradbury, the movie's premise is that killing these mighty reptiles does not affect the future, but that the smooshing of a single butterfly causes havoc in 2055, the movie's present. Go-back team leader and scientist Travis Ryer (Edward Burns) shows his distaste for the scheme, but goes along for the ride anyway. When a time travel "jump" goes wrong, Chicago's winter days are suddenly balmy, trees grow through walls, pavement cracks, power goes out, and the city is devoid of people. Travis meets with Sonia Rand (Catherine McCormack), the angry scientist who invented the technology, who explains that more changes will come via "time waves," wavy-shadowy effects that wash over the city. Sonia jerry-rigs a power supply to send Travis back. Travis, Sonia, and tech officer Payne (David Oyelowo) must make their way through flooded subway tunnels and battle a gigantic, anaconda-like mutated eel. Will Travis will be able to get back in time and erase all of the devastation?
Is it any good?
Ridiculous at every level, A Sound of Thunder has a weak premise, an absurd plot, and is riddled with clichés. Characters are standard one-dimensional -- Travis is the reluctantly macho hero, Sonia is the brains, and the black guy -- tech officer Payne (David Oyelowo) -- sacrifices himself so the rest of the team can reach their destination (this with the promise that Travis will be able to get back in time and "fix it," meaning that all this devastation will be erased. If only the same might be done for A Sound of Thunder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the poor planning by the time-traveling, so-called scientists: how can they imagine their hunting of prehistoric creatures won't affect the future (their present) in some way? How does Travis recover his sense of self-confidence and -respect by saving the world?
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