Adapting short stories to movies is a difficult thing.
Few short stories have enough plot to fuel an entire movie so the screenwriter usually adds characters, details and entire scenes and plotlines. So I expected A SOUND OF THUNDER (2004) to deviate from the original Ray Bradbury story, but I was still agog at how far afield it went.
Ben Kingsley (stealing every scene) is an oily, ambitious businessman who uses his time travel technology to provide safaris in the past for the bored rich. To avoid any disruption of time, the safaris target dinosaurs about to die anyway (volcanic eruption or drowning in a tar pit), though it appears from the two hunts they see that everyone gets to shoot the same dinosaur which makes no sense.
As in the story, someone steps on a butterfly despite all the precautions and Kingsley employee Ed Burns discovers the city around him suddenly changing as the alterations in evolution catch up (by the usual time-travel logic, it’s not instantaneous), in time waves that slam everyone around like literal waves. Can Burns find a way to fix thingswhile fighting across a city that looks like leftover shots from the later series Primeval?
A mediocre one, in short, and the special effects are very poor for the 21st century (a decade after Jurassic Park and they can’t do better dinos?). “I get kind of upset seeing people destroy the world with my dream—that’s the kind of thing that can piss someone off.”
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME (1967) is a plodding “talking heads” film, the kind where the drama is people sitting around in control rooms looking worried as they discuss their problems in technobabble (“There’s only one other thing we can try—accelerate the laser-beam cycle!”). Three scientists and their backer find the control room of their time-travel project suddenly unmoored, bouncing from future to past (dramatized with stock footage on a monitor) before an ending which is utter gibberish. Execrable acting too. “Man’s atomic weapons are as primitive to us as spears are to modern men—but even modern man may be killed by a spear.”
DUAL: Parallel Trouble Adventure was a 1999 anime in which a timeline diverged from ours 22 years ago when a construction worker ignored his boss’s instructions to throw away a strange gadget he found. As the protagonist Kazuko discovers when he stumbles into the alternate timeline, in the other world, the tech has led to battles between mecha as the revolutionary RaRa Army tries to conquer the rest of the world. As the only male who can control one of the mecha, Kazuko finds himself surrounded by attractive women (sometimes in the Tenchi Muyo vein, sometimes it’s more of a sisterly thing) but increasingly nervous about actually having to fight. I liked it.