Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Room With a View of Thunder

Last Saturday night I took some friends along to see Tommy Wiseau's "disasterpiece" The Room at Cinema Nova. It was the fourth time I had partaken in the greatest cinematic experience of my life, and it has lost none of its distinctive power. I was watching it with friends, some of whom had never seen it before and who, upon exiting, were just as baffled and amazed as one would expect after tasting the delectable treat that is Wiseau's magical fantasy land of manipulative women, drug peddling manchildren, games of football in tuxedos and cancer-stricken mothers. Oh how we laughed.

Anybody who follows me on Twitter will know that later in the evening I was taken to hospital and I think we can all agree that Lisa had something to do with this. Tommy Wiseau seems to think she's responsible for every misdeed known to mankind - and, as written, it's hard not to agree - so why not this, too?

I bring up The Room, however, because on Monday night I sat down to watch a particularly startling movie entitled A Sound of Thunder. Sometimes it's hard to gauge the hows and whys of particular cult movies, but it surprises me that Peter Hyam's sci-fi monstrosity adaptation of Ray Bradbury's famed short story hasn't developed some sort of underground following. In this day and age of bad movie worship, A Sound of Thunder is as good a candidate as I've come across in quite some time.

While Wiseau's Room cost $6 million dollars - including the funds it took to hire a billboard in downtown Los Angeles(!!!) - A Sound of Thunder cost $80 million and yet looks just as cheap as The Room. It was produced by Franchise Pictures, who went bankrupt during post production, and they should be familiar to all bad movie aficionados as the same company that produced Battlefield Earth, Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever and the remake of Get Carter. Director Hyams has only made one film since despite some impressive (to some) films on his resume before this monumental debacle.

There are so many things wrong with this movie that it's surely impossible to list them all. How about those prehistoric sequences with embarrassing sets that remind me of a lame-brained CGI version of The Big Dollhouse and featuring dinosaurs that appear to have regressed so far beyond Jurassic Park that it borders on a non-existent Theodore Rex computer game for Commodore 64. Furthermore, the scenes set in this incredibly unflattering incarnation of 2055 feature the worst visual effects I have seen in a modern day film. Yes, they somehow best the abyssal work of Battlefield Earth. For whatever reason, the makers of this movie decided to film everybody against green screens that are subsequently filled with ridiculously flat images of skyscrapers, silly robotic toy cars and extras that look like they wondered in from the set of a cheap, direct-to-DVD remake of Double Indemnity. It looks like the CGI equivalent of rear projection; so completely and utterly fake and yet, unlike the days of rear projection, A Sound of Thunder was not made in the 1950s. Remember that scene in Flying High! where the chariot race appears behind the people in the car? It's like that but instead of a chariot race it's somebody's neighbourhood from The Sims.

It's all just so hilariously disposable and ridiculous. Of course, the worst effect of all is Ben Kingsley's hair. Ben Kingsley's hair and face, actually. Kingsley - who is clearly one of the un-pickiest actors in Hollywood; Daniel Day-Lewis he is not - gives one of those strangely cartoonish performances the he is wont to do, but this time with a fright wig that would give Leland Palmer a run for his money and a complexion that gives the illusion that he uses his salary from pictures such as this, Thunderbirds and The Love Guru (wherein he plays "Guru Tugginmypudha") to finance his holiday home on Mercury.

And what of Ed Burns? He would certainly make a suitably realistic zombie in Ted Mikel's next Astro-Zombies creation. No expensive make-up required there! The rest of the cast are all nameless, faceless nobodies so, at least in that regard, they have nothing on "Silk Shirt Guy" and "Cancer-Riddled Claudette" from The Room, but I haven't even gotten to the best part yet.


Yup, apparently, when someone steps on a butterfly back in the cretaceous period, it causes a series of evolutionary "waves" (basically, really bad tsunamis of vegetation) and with it comes a species of dinosaurs that not only didn't become extinct, but somehow evolved into (or from, or maybe they mated? The so-called "science" is never explained in any great detail whatsoever) this sort of weird half breed dinosaurs with baboon faces that make chest-thumping noises like a mountain gorilla, but have the hunting pack mentality of those funny raptor dinosaurs from the canteen sequence of Jurassic Park.

And the weird bat monsters? I don't even know what they were meant to be.

I personally got a kick out of the bizarro science. This company that sends rich fuddy duddies back in time to hunt dinosaurs only goes back to a moment in time when the dinosaur they hunt (the same one each and every time) was going to die anyway (first in a swamp and then because of a volcano). Yet, somehow, somebody stepping off the path and killing a butterfly irrevocably changes history. Would that butterfly not have died in the volcano that sends ash right down towards the time portal, from which these futuristic travellers ventured, in only a few seconds. Could that butterfly flap its wings so fast that it avoided a catastrophic natural disaster before going on to lay eggs that allowed apes to become humans and for ferns to sprout flowers that would eventually allow us to live as we are to 2055 and onwards. And how come each group of backwards travellers do not bump into one another at the same dinosaur hunting ground? Or why these recurring time waves all but send people to the hospital they are so forceful and yet Ed Burns' character appears to sleep through the very first one. Oh, science! Who needs you?!

There really is no wonder why the film sat on the shelf for three years before getting released. It was able to coerce $1.9million from American audiences at the box office, which is a staggering amount really, although upon viewing the trailer there's not much in it that gives the waft of how bad A Sound of Thunder really is. I laughed during it. I laughed a lot. My eyes bugged out of their sockets and I screamed "Oh. My. God." at the television more than once. Watching A Sound of Thunder is akin to watching money get flushed down an ugly, clown toilet and Ben Kingsley is the grand ringmaster.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

I saw the trailer for it just now and really want to check it out. Ahha, it looks like it could be a hilarious time.