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Movie Review

It’s 2055, and Charles Hatton owns technology that allows people to travel through time. His company, Time Safari, takes adventurous millionaires 65 million years into the past to hunt the ultimate predator, the Allosaurus, a dino that makes T. rex look like your neighbor’s poodle.

Self-assured Travis Ryer is expedition leader, and he has one firm rule for these hunting trips: touch nothing and bring nothing back with you. That’s because anything changed in the past can have ripple effects far into the future. So how are they getting away with killing Allosauri, you ask? Ryer's hunters take down the same beast over and over again. When you’re time-traveling, you can always return to the exact same point in history, so why not? And because a scout had earlier determined that dino du jour is/was only minutes away from dying anyway, its death at the hands of humans from the future doesn't disturb the timeline.

Needless to say, something else eventually does. And the subsequent evolutionary ripples turn future Chicago into a steaming jungle inhabited by strange beasts, carnivorous plants and desperate humans wondering what’s happening. Ryer, along with the time machine’s inventor, Sonia Rand, must figure out what precisely went wrong in the past and go back to undo the damage, before the evolutionary time ripples change the entire face of the planet and turn humans into who knows what.

Positive Elements

Ryer comes to see that his boss is corrupt and determines to expose that corruption, even though it surely means he’ll lose his job. An injured man voluntarily faces certain death by staying behind to fight off monsters so that others can escape.

Spiritual Content

A woman has a Buddha statue in her garden, although it’s more decoration than religious icon.

Sexual Content

A woman lies her way in Ryer’s empty apartment and awaits his return while completely nude. The camera captures only her bare legs, but later sex is implied when we see him come from the bedroom in his boxers and her wrapped in a sheet. Ryer apologizes for accidentally seeing a female colleague as she changes clothes. (We see only her bare shoulders.) She’s not bothered and comments that they had skinny dipped together in the past, when they were children. She also teases Ryer about having sex with the interloper. A man gets ribbed for allegedly owning S&M gear, including whips. Two men comment about having sex with a client’s daughter. A few women wear low-cut blouses.

Violent Content

The scenes with dinosaurs and other evolutionary freaks can be pretty intense. Ryer knows exactly when to shoot the Allosaurus—hey, he’s done it a dozen times before—but he waits until the monster is right atop the hunting party before pulling the trigger on his futuristic rifle. Gigantic baboon-like beasts stalk people caught in the evolutionary time ripples. They grab one man and drag him away and later encircle another; the camera lingers as the pack makes the final plunge, fangs bared.

Giant bats also assault people, ripping through the roof of a car and snatching away a man. A large sea monster attacks the heroes, chomping one in its jaws. It then grabs Ryer and is moments away from devouring him when it is crushed by falling debris. During all these attacks the heroes shoot at the beasts with their rifles, killing some (no blood seen). One of the battles takes place underwater as the humans gasp for air.

Rand threatens people with a shotgun. (We later learn it’s inoperable.) We see the bloody bodies of humans who have killed each other in the panic that ensues after the timeline has been changed. A man shoots a gun wildly, killing a neighbor. He then shoots himself in the head (no blood or gore seen). The time ripples come in giant waves that send people and vehicles flying in slow motion. We see a pale human corpse floating in the water. The hunting party barely escapes the blast from a volcano. A large hole opens in the road, and a taxi crashes into it. A woman is covered by gigantic bugs, which then attack Ryer and Rand.

Crude or Profane Language

Several uses of crude slang for male anatomy. “A--“ is used about five times in various forms. “H---“ is spoken about a dozen times; “d--n“ three times, once combined with God’s name. God's and Jesus' names are misused about 15 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Hatton pours champagne into an overflowing tower of champagne glasses. He offers champagne to clients and then toasts with a full glass. Ryer jokes that a government inspector is expected to drink on the job. A man receiving inoculations complains that he’ll soon have track marks on his arm.

Other Negative Elements

The entire story assumes that Darwinian evolution is true. Ryer routinely lies to clients, telling them that it was their shots that killed the Allosaurus. A doctor implies that he put himself through med school by stealing cars.


What is it with butterflies? In 1993’s Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s character introduced the movie world to the idea of chaos theory by explaining that the results of a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon could be a hurricane half a world away. Then there was 2004’s The Butterfly Effect, an Ashton Kutcher movie that (viciously) re-explored the concept. What, then, happens in A Sound of Thunder to disrupt the timeline? A hunter accidentally smushes a butterfly in the mists of prehistory.

Turns out, however, that this movie is based on a 1952 Ray Bradbury short story, so maybe he’s the inventor of the butterfly effect, as it were. Speaking of Ray Bradbury, the sci-fi master deserves much better than this movie. Dialogue is silly in places. Pacing is glacial. And viewers are left to ponder plot holes big enough to accommodate several Allosauri. Perhaps worst of all, the special effects are laughable—in a 1950s B movie sort of way—which is unforgivable in an age when moviegoers have been dazzled by the likes of the Jurassic Park series and George Lucas’ Star Wars flicks.

While watching, I half-expected those three guys from Mystery Science Theater to show up, making snarky comments about the story unfolding onscreen. No luck this time, but boy are they going to have fun when A Sound of Thunder finally makes it to their show. Hopefully by that time the language will have been cleaned up a bit and the violence toned down so that we can all laugh along with them.

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