Friday, September 09, 2005

A Sound of Crappiness

Update: Scroll down to bottom for review (with spoilers).

I really like bad movies. Not the kind that leave you feeling miserable and cheated at the end, but the kind you can laugh and wonder at. In fact, I bought Ebert's I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie! so I could scope out the very best bad movies. The types that appeal to me: Grandly Bad, which are like watching slow-motion train wrecks (e.g. Alexander); Stupid Beyond All Reason Bad, which allow you and your friends to feel superior and have a wonderful time pointing out the stupidities MST3K-style (e.g. any Pamela Anderson or Madonna movie); all-around Cheesy Bad, which are usually the sort of movies that your best friend's kid brother would've written and produced if he'd had a few million dollars (e.g. Kull the Conqueror); and my personal favorite kind of bad, Earnestly Bad, which wants desperately to please you but just doesn't have the smarts to do it. Ebert's review of A Sound of Thunder gives every indication of the movie belonging in the last category. I am, therefore, going to see it tonight. Review to follow.



First, read Ebert's review for the story basics. Done? Okay...

Special effects were indeed lame, but, as Ebert says, they take on a sort of eerie quality that is appealing. Edward Burns was likable. Edward Burns with no shirt on was really likable. Ben Kingsley's perfectly timed "HA!" was worth at least half the admission price. Out of the standard grab bag of movie villains (businessmen, scientists, the military, Christians, white men, Republicans, etc) the movie decides that the cause of all ruination on the planet is the eeeevil greeeeediness of the businessman. (Just once I'd like to see a movie where the horrible villain is a poet -- a lesbian, atheist, non-white, socialist, killer poet.)

Okay, now for the stuff that really bugged me (lots o' spoilers)...

The movie makes it clear that it believes in evolution (men evolved from apes, etc), which is fine, but then it decides not to play by its own rules. The "hunting party" goes back in time to kill the allosaurus, but something goes wrong and the future (their present) is altered. Time waves start hitting the city, making all sorts of things happen (more on this later). The scientists decide that they must go back and fix whatever happened so that the proper timeline is restored. Here's the problem. My anthropology professor told me that evolution has no goal, it just does what it does through random mutations. If it's all based on chance, then there's no such thing as a "proper" timeline, and who's to say which is the preferred future? Unconscious nature doesn't care whether advanced beings eventually evolve from apes or from bugs or whatever, so what difference does it make what future the earth ends up with?

As for the bad things that happen, when the time waves hit, the only discernible differences are that (1) the city becomes more and more overgrown with weird tropical vegetation, and (2) some new species have evolved, and roam the city killing and munching on humans. All the infrastructure of the city is still there, it's just covered with killer plants, and everyone still has their memories from the original timeline. But, when one of the characters decides to go back to the prehistoric hunting site to find out what was altered and do something about it, he tells another character that if he fails no one will realize it because the future will have been altered. Huh? Trying to reconcile all of this just made my brain hurt.

So, anyway, wanna know what caused the future to be completely altered? Somebody in the hunting party inadvertently squished a prehistoric butterfly with his boot. I have a couple of problems with this: (1) Nature, in this movie, is not very robust. One stinkin' butterfly in hundreds of millions of years and almost 60 million square miles on the earth was responsible for life on earth turning out the way it did? (2) We know that the volcano in the background is just five minutes away from exploding and decimating everything within sight, so how would squishing the butterfly have made any difference in the first place?

I don't mind a certain degree of implausibility in a movie, but I resented this one's poor logic. It ruined what would otherwise have been a perfectly good bad movie experience.


Blogger Rusticus said...

Ahh, the 'B' scifi movie. Classic genre, hardly done right anymore.

9/14/2005 7:58 AM  

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