February 28, 2024

Crater 2023 Movie Review

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Crater 2023 Movie Review

The Moon! In the future: 2257, to be precise. There’s a mining colony up there, and it’s been there long enough that – well, let’s just say that some things aren’t going as Earthlings planned or promised, and it’s all a bit vague. It seems as if the scenario is pretty much not great when it comes to things like social equity. Some of the less-than-ideal details of the situation emerge from Caleb’s (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) story; his moon-miner father died on the job, orphaning him, and earning him a trip to Omega, a planet it takes 75 years of travel (in cryogenic chambers, mind you) to reach. The implication being, Earth is shot to hell environmentally or overpopulated or bombed-out, so we found another planet to destroy. Either that, or Omega is a utopia, and the space-flight ticket is one only rich people can afford. We learn that miners can earn their seat to Omega by working 20 years, but the powers that be like to bump that date back and renege on promises. Meanwhile, the little people work their tails off at dangerous jobs mining the crucial resource allowing the privileged to GTFO to greener pastures. So things haven’t changed much in two centuries, rimshot!

Caleb is slated to ship out in three days, but he doesn’t want to go. The sting of grief still lingers. He’ll miss his friends. His mother died years prior, of an illness. And his father once promised him a trip to a special location in a crater that’s way off yonder on the Moon. So Caleb and his pals, spunky Dylan (Billy Barratt), scaredy-cat Borney (Orson Hong) and Marcus Who Has To Take Pills Due To An Enlarged Heart (Thomas Boyce) decide to steal a rover so Caleb can visit his dearly departed dad’s favorite mystery spot. Caleb isn’t sure what exactly he’ll find there, but it’s surely Something Poignant, and probably not a monolith, and besides, is this type of excursion about the journey or the destination? You know the answer to that.

Of course, the trip requires some sort of sensible female presence, so the four dudes recruit Addison (Mckenna Grace) to help them. Her dad’s a relatively important person, and she has the code to unlock the rover; she recently moved to the Moon from Earth, a place where our other protagonists have never set foot, so they call her “Earth Girl.” Under cover of shelter-in-place orders due to a meteor shower – something that absolutely won’t become a crucial plot point later in the movie, no doubt – they hotwire the rover and hit the “road.” They do all the fun crap kids do, like wasting oxygen tanks by using them to rocket through the low-gravity environment (think WALL-E and EVE with the fire extinguisher), or finding an unoccupied “model home” out yonder that’s well-stocked with food so they can pig out and realize the place is for rich people and therefore vandalize it. Wait – are these kids embarking upon an Adventure Of A Lifetime? This being a Disney movie, that’s a safe assumption to make.

Crater is written like an early-learner book with questions in the back for second graders: What do you think happened to human society? Are there differences in social class among the characters? Do the situations remind you of anything from real life? Can you spell dystopia? The screenplay sticks to the perspective of early-teen kids who understand things but don’t quite understand them fully, which is admirable – the film has a distinct point-of-view. And while implying things instead of stating them outright is also admirable, this story is too vague in its world-building to be satisfying. It’s more frustrating than provocative.

Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez has a strong handle on the film visually – the low-gravity effects are convincing, and the CG is relatively seamless (if I had to guess, I’d say it was filmed with the virtual-environment LED screens revolutionized by The Mandalorian). But the eye candy isn’t enough to galvanize the movie as a whole, which suffers from canned-corn dialogue, emo and/or goofus characters who feel like broad nobody-acts-like-this Disney Channel sitcommers, and a lack of significant dramatic stakes; this “adventure” feels more like sanitized teen hijinks than anything particularly dangerous. The screenplay is overtly calculated to cover the tonal bases: The kids squabble, the kids goof around, the kids share their emotions, repeat five or six times, fade out. It’s all rather mediocre. I wouldn’t wag my bare ass at Crater, but I wouldn’t particularly recommend it either.

Crater 2023 Movie Review