Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Movie: A Sound of Thunder (2005)

Let’s just say that expanding Ray Bradbury’s classic short story wasn’t a good idea. The movie had a troubled production history (it sat on the shelf for several years), nowhere near enough money for special effects, and an unrealistic vision of the future. Like men’s hats would ever come back.

Early on Ben Kingsley, in a hairpiece that does not at all make him look crazy, launches into a stock speech about his company’s time travel technology. He compares it to “Columbus discovering America, Armstrong stepping on the moon, Brubaker landing on Mars.” It’s your classic science fiction variation on the triple, the dialogue equivalent of having someone drink something blue to remind us that our story is set in the future. Star Trek used this gambit regularly.

But the last part of the line stuck in my head. Brubaker landing on Mars? Why did that sound familiar?

Then it hit me. Growing up one of my favorite movies was Capricorn One, a thriller that riffs on the conspiracy theory that the moon landing had been faked. The commander of the movie’s phony Mars expedition is named Colonel Charles Brubaker. The film’s director? Peter Hyams, who also made Thunder.

I was way too excited about figuring this out.

Later, there’s a scene set in a store called Spota’s Market. It occurred to me that in the thriller The Presidio, directed by guess who, there’s a character named George Spota. (Don’t ask me why I remember this. I just do.)

Turns out that in several films written or directed by Peter Hyams, characters named Spota appear. And it also happens that talent manager/theatrical producer George Spota was Hyams’ father-in-law.

Clearly, I have seen too many movies. At least too many Peter Hyams movies. But discovering these connections made my day.