action, movie, movie review, sci-fi, thriller

October 18th, 2017 Movie – A Sound Of Thunder

a sound of thunder

Now this was a movie I was excited to watch because it used one of the more famous cliches when it comes to time travel; what happens if you go back in time and step on a butterfly. I find it funny how many movies and stories make some reference to this concept and try to use some variation of it in their plot. Now, I never heard of this movie coming out in theaters, otherwise I would have gone to see it, but when I first saw it at Blockbuster, I decided to just go ahead and buy a used copy. Now let’s see if it was worth the impulse buy as I watch today’s movie, A Sound Of Thunder.

The plot: In the year 2055, the Time Safari company allows people to travel back in time and hunt dinosaurs. To keep from messing with the timeline, the group travels on a specialized path of hardened air molecules, use weapons that shoot hardened ice bullets, and only kill animals that are known to have died due to natural means. After the latest hunt, Dr. Travis Ryer is doing some research with the computer TAMI when the company’s owner, Charles Hatton, comes to remind him that he must mingle with the clients as part of his contract. Travis reluctantly heads up to the party, telling John Wallenbeck that the video disc of their hunt shows that he was the one to bring down the allosaurus. Suddenly, Dr. Sonia Rand interrupts the event, spraying the attendees with red wine while yelling that they will destroy the future if they keep messing with the past. As she is being escorted away by security, Travis stops them and talks with Sonia, learning that she was one of the people that developed TAMI but due to a clause in her contract and a nondisclosure agreement, didn’t receive any credit for it. Sonia is upset that her work is being used for people to kill dinosaurs and mad at Travis for going along with it but Travis shows her that he is working there for a different reason. Taking her to the zoo, Travis explains that since hunting and a mysterious virus wiped out most animal life on the planet, he has been using the jumps to get DNA recordings from animals before the virus occurred so that he can clone them. Back at Time Safari, Marcus Payne knocks over some liquid nitrogen tanks and after putting them back upright, goes to talk to Jenny Krase, unaware that one of the tanks is leaking onto Travis’ gun. The next day, Travis leads a new hunt with clients Eckels and Middleton, explaining all of the rules they need to follow for the hunt. As they proceed with the jump, Eckels is extremely nervous and jumpy, attempting to shoot a butterfly that startles him. When the allosaurus appears, Travis’ gun malfunctions, preventing anyone from firing their guns. Travis uses a flashlight to lure the allosaurus away from the group, telling the clients to hide while Marcus works on repairing the gun. Marcus eventually gets the gun repaired and Travis is able to kill the allosaurus and they all leave, unaware that one of the clients had stepped off the path while hiding, as evidenced by a muddy footprint left on the path. The next day, the city experiences an increase in temperature and humidity while fish suddenly start beaching themselves and plants are suddenly increasing their growth rate. Travis leads a new group on their hunt but they find that the allosaurus is still lying dead in the swamp from their last jump and the nearby volcano erupts sooner than it was supposed to. After making it back through the portal before the volcano kills them, Travis and the others try to figure out what is going on but Clay Derris, the federal agent that oversees the project, shuts them down so they are unable to access TAMI. As Hatton argues with Clay about shutting them down, Tyler goes to see Sonia and talk to her. After getting inside her apartment, Tyler tells Sonia what happened and after telling her when it occurred, Sonia has him look outside and he sees a time wave approaching the city, knocking him off his feet when it occurs. Sonia starts to explain about the time wave when they hear a scream and are suddenly attacked by a swarm of beetles, forcing them to run from the apartment. As they are heading back to Time Safari, Sonia explains that the time waves will change evolution in stages, starting with the climate and then lower life forms, with humanity being altered in the last wave. Convincing Clay to let them try and fix things, Travis attempts to jump back before the Eckels/Middleton hunt and turn them back but he finds himself in the old west just as another time wave is about to hit. Travis makes it back through the portal but the time wave knocks out power to the entire city and Sonia explains that they can’t make it past the “ripples” of the time wave. After checking the footage reveals no indication as to what happened, Marcus checks the logs and finds that they came back a few grams heavier. Hatton reveals that he had the bio-filters turned off in order to save money, though in reality it was to pay off Clay, and after searching all of their gear from the trip, realize that it must have been one of the clients. Figuring that Eckels was the likely suspect, Marcus modifies the weapons to fire individually and Travis, Sonia, Jenny, Marcus, and Dr. Lucas head out to find Eckels. As they make their way through the city, finding it completely overgrown with plants, they see evidence of some type of creature and hear it calling out in the distance. Marcus gets poisoned by a thorny vine and as they are helping him walk, Lucas is grabbed by a strange creature which is a cross between a baboon and a lizard. Travis chases after Dr. Lucas and manages to kill the baboonlizard and he and Lucas quickly run as more creatures appear. Marcus can’t walk so he chooses to stay behind and fend them off as long as he can, allowing the others to escape. They eventually make it to Eckel’s apartment, finding it barricaded by the inhabitants but after saving two people that had gone to get food, they convince the people to let them in. They make their way up to Eckels’ apartment and while Travis and Sonia talk to him, Jenny and Lucas scan his suit and find it is clean. Realizing it was Middleton, Eckels tells them that he has been staying in his office and where it is. Lucas hotwires a car and they make their way to his office, noticing a strange flying creature passing overhead. Reaching the office, Travis and Sonia head inside, leaving Jenny and Lucas to watch the car. They find that the people have killed themselves after being driven mad by the brambles’ poison and Middleton is infected as well, killing a security guard before killing himself. Travis and Sonia search his gear and find the remains of a butterfly so they quickly head back to the car to find Lucas and Jenny firing into the air. As they drive back to Time Safari, they are attacked by bat like creatures, which manage to peel off the roof of the car and grab Lucas. Another time wave hits, causing the car to crash into the building, and they find that the jump station is flooded and inoperable. Sonia says they can use the particle accelerator at the university to use as a substitute and goes to grab TAMI’s hard drive. Travis goes to get a jump suit and finds Clay hiding in one of the lockers. Clay tells him to be quiet and motions above them and they see the baboonlizards sleeping from the ceiling above them. Sonia grabs the hard drive and they leave and Clay decides at the last minute to try and follow but he is killed by the baboonlizards. Deciding to go through the subway tunnels to reach the university, they end up crawling through a damaged subway train when the tunnel suddenly floods, trapping them in the train. Travis goes to smash a window so they can swim to safety when something breaks through the window and grabs Jenny, dragging her away. As the train floods, Sonia and Travis go to escape but Travis is attacked by a strange, eel like creature but the tunnel collapses some more and kills the creature while Travis almost drowns but is saved by Sonia. They reach the university as the baboonlizards arrive and start to attack the building. Making their way to the particle accelerator, Sonia works on getting everything set up for a slingshot jump while Travis secures the room and then prepares for the jump. As the baboonlizards start to break in, Sonia activates the time jump just as another time wave occurs, with Sonia ending up transformed into a human/catfish hybrid. Travis jumps to 1 year beyond the normal jump time and then he bounce back to the time of the hunt. Seeing the group with the allosaurus, Travis yells at Jenny to record him, telling her what happened, then goes and stops Middleton before he steps on the butterfly, vanishing as the timeline is restored to normal. As the group returns through the portal, Jenny tells Clay she knows about the bio-filters and tells him to turn them back on, causing Clay to nervously talk to Hatton. Jenny then grabs Travis and hands him the recording, telling him she told Hatton that there was a malfunction and a disc doesn’t exist, and tells Travis he needs to watch it. The next day, Travis goes to see Sonia and tells her about the recording and asks her help in exposing the dangers with Time Safari and how to stop them.

A Sound Of Thunder was panned by the critics, holding a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Choppy logic and uneven performances are overshadowed by not-so-special effects that makes the suspension of disbelief a nearly impossible task.” The movie was based off of a short story by Ray Bradbury and originally supposed to be directed by Renny Harlin but he was fired after having a disagreement with Bradbury. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $11.7 million off of an $80 million budget.

This was your classic case of a good idea bogged down with problems. The acting was ok, with Edward Burns (Travis), Catherine McCormack (Sonia), Jemima Rooper (Jenny), and Sir Ben Kingsley (Hatton) was pretty good. The story was very interesting but there was one VERY big flaw in the concept. If they keep going to the same time to hunt that allosaurus, the different hunting parties should overlap but of course, this is Hollywood and logic has no place whatsoever in a sci-fi movie. As for the whole evolution changing with each time wave concept, I thought that was kind of cool and made sense as a way to make the movie longer, though I am curious if that is actually what would happen if such a thing occurred. The special effects were a mixture of good and bad; with the creature designs actually being really good, but some of the background shots used some pretty poor blue screen effects. Problems aside, I enjoyed this movie but accept that it probably isn’t going to be for everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

September 25th, 2017 Movie – Slipstream (1989)

slipstream

I am going to apologize for the lateness of this post because I fell asleep while watching this movie this morning. This was entirely due to the fact that I got next to no sleep last night and is in now way an indication that today’s movie was bad or boring, which I honestly wouldn’t know since I WAS ASLEEP while it was on. I will say that this is not my first time hearing of today’s movie, as I had heard about it on a B-movie fan page I amĀ  on, where one of the members was trying to choose between watching this movie and another one (which I honestly can’t remember what it was now). So let’s see what kind of a movie I have on my hands as I finish watching today’s movie, Slipstream (1989).

The plot: At the end of the end of the 20th Century, an event known as The Convergence caused the Earth’s weather patterns to change as natural disasters occurred around the world . Earthquakes and floods broke apart continents while a massive river of wind known as The Slipstream encircles the planet and the surviving people have learned how to travel along it. A man named Byron is running along a canyon while being chased by an air glider. The man makes it to the edge of the cliff and reaches out to the sky but the two occupants of the glider, law officers Will Tasker and Belitski, land and follow after him. Tasker shoots Byron through the arm with a grapple, then pulls him off the cliff and they arrest him and take off. They stop at a diner to get some food and Belitski is hit on by a smuggler named Matt Owens but she quickly knocks him down and steps over him. Tasker had seen the whole thing and offers Owens a cup of coffee, not telling him that he works with Belitski. The two talk and Owens says he is a business man, meaning he is a smuggler, and shows the items he has on him. When Tasker picks up a grenade and says that is illegal, then shows Owens his badge, Owens hands him his pack and quickly leaves. Some guys at another table have Owens sit with them and they tell him about how the prisoner Tasker has with him had killed a man and there is a reward out for him. When Tasker leaves, Owens pulls a gun on him and takes Byron and his gear back but when he gets distracted by Belitski, Tasker hits Owens with a dart, telling him it was poisoned. Owens doesn’t believe him and whenTasker is distracted by an arriving glider hitting him, Owens manages to get away with Byron but Tasker reveals the dart was a tracker dart and they can follow him. As they are flying away, Owens starts trying to talk with Byron and learns Byron’s name. Owens makes a stop at a mountain cave settlement called Hell’s Kitchen, where he has set up his home, and he tells his smuggler friends there that he is leaving and setting up shop elsewhere and giving some of them some of his items. He looses site of Byron but soon finds him and discovers that Byron has healed a young boy suffering from cataracts. Tasker and Belitski are tracking Owens but find themselves running into Montclaire and his group of smugglers and end up killing them when Montclaire’s group shoot at them. After burying the smugglers and burning their cargo, Tasker continue to track Owen but Belitski starts questioning what they are doing and considers quitting. Owens and Byron continue flying down the Slipstream and come to another settlement of cave dwellers and see that they have been attacked by bandits. Byron tries to help one of the members by lifting a rock off of his legs but the man, Avatar, is the leader of the cult that lives there and curses Byron as being one of the machines that brought the destruction of the world. After Avatar dies, his followers tie up Owens, then tie Byron to a large kite and set him sailing high into the sky, saying the winds will judge him. That night, as a windstorm rages, Tasker and Belitski find Owens and ask him about Byron and Owens tells them where he is and says they need to work together to bring him down. Tasker reluctantly agrees and has Belitski cut him loose and they head outside into the storm. Owens holds onto the guide line and uses a parachute to slide up the rope to the kite and works on freeing Byron, yelling at him for not telling him he is an android. When Belitski realizes that Owens is attempting a double cross, she uses a parachute to slide up the rope to stop him but is too late as Owens cuts the rope and the kite ends up falling towards the ground, crashing into Tasker. Owens survives and finds himself dragged into the shelter of a cave by Byron, who had also saved Belitski and dragged her inside there. Byron then heads out to see if he can locate Tasker for Belitski, leaving Owens and Belitski to start talking. Outside, Byron finds Ariel, who was there to visiting the cult, and Tasker’s broken grapple but no sign of Tasker. As the storm passes, Ariel leads them out of the caves and Belitski parts ways with them, saying she is going to find Tasker and that this is only a head start for them. Owens, Byron, and Ariel work on fixing Owens’ glider and they head to Ariel’s settlement, where they plan on getting supplies before heading back out but the glider ends up crashing and they are forced to walk the last of the way. Ariels people are hedonists who inhabit an underground museum and Byron is fascinated by the history inside, which draws Ariel closer to him. As night falls, they end up dancing, with Byron partnering up with a local girl, with the two pairs each ending up sleeping together. The next day, Ariel is speaking with the group’s leaders about her bringing Byron and Owens there, with some people feeling that she never should have brought them there as they can’t trust outsiders. Ariel tries to convince them that they need Byron and Owens, particularly Byron, for their technical expertise but the group’s leader and curator of the museum, says that since Ariel brought the men here under false pretenses, she might be lying for her reasons to keep them here. Elsewhere, Owens goes looking for Byron and finds him working on fixing things in the museum and Byron excitedly tells Owens that he fell asleep and dreamed, something that androids should not be able to do. Byron tells Owens that he dreamed of a place at the end of the Slipstream, where others of his kind live. Owens then tells Byron that he is free to go, as he decided not to turn Byron in for the reward as he feels they have become friends and Byron asks if that means he is free to stay with Ariel. Meanwhile, Tasker and Belitski have followed Byron and Owens to the museum, killing the guards in order to gain entry. They make their way to the conference room and demand the group turn over Byron, with Tasker threatening to kill everyone there to get what he wants. The hedonists head towards the lower level and grab Byron, knocking Owens down in the process and as Owens gets up, he sees Belitski watching him. As Owens tries talking to her, Belitski pulls out a gun and shoots him but he knocks her out. As he is handcuffing her to a bed, Belitski comes too and tells him she shot him with the antidote and he kisses her before heading off to try and save Byron. The hedonists bring Byron to Tasker but Owens shows up and tries to shoot Tasker. Byron stands in front of Tasker and takes the shot, as he doesn’t want anyone else to die for him. Tasker shoots the shotgun, causing a shell inside to explode and injure Owens and when Ariel grabs a gun and tries to shoot Tasker, Tasker kills her. Byron runs over to cradle Ariel while Tasker leaves and Byron goes after him, though Owens tries to get him to stop. Outside, Tasker heads to his plane, shooting Byron when he follows and when that doesn’t stop him, he tries running him over as he takes off. Byron manages to hold onto the plane and smashes through the control panel to get to Tasker but as he starts to strangle him, Tasker recites a quote he often says and Byron changes his mind. With the plane out of control, Byron tries to use the wires from the panel to try and land the plane but they end up crashing, with Byron surviving but Tasker dies in the flames. Byron heads back to the museum and sees Owens outside waiting for him. Byron approaches him and says that he is too dangerous to be human but Owens tells him he is wrong. Some time later, Byron leaves to go find the place in his dreams while Owens has started a relationship with Belitski and they go off to start a balloon shop that Owens has dreamed of.

Ok, this actually was a pretty boring movie, which is sad because the story actually had some potential. The acting was ok, with Bill Paxton (Owens) and Bob Peck (Byron) making for a pretty good duo, while Mark Hamill (Tasker) was an interesting villain but I have to admit, he looks a little more like Kiefer Sutherland than Luke Skywalker. The story was interesting and seemed to borrow a little from Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” (and there was actually a brief reference to that book when Ownes and Byron are talking and Byron says he dreamed. The special effect were on the weak side, with a lot of green screen used during some of the flying scenes, while some other scenes that required stunt work or special effects, like the kite crashing or the plane crash, just felt cheap. Good for some laughs on how bad it is, but not something I would watch repeatedly.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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