After the death of his father, a boy growing up on a lunar mining colony takes a trip to explore a legendary crater, along with his four best friends, prior to being permanently relocated to another planet.

Chuck says:

I’m not sure to what to make of “Crater,” a misguided sci-fi feature from Disney that the Mouse House is smart enough not to release in theaters. Debuting on Disney+, the film is a mess from beginning to end.  The script by John Griffin is an exercise in misdirection, one languid event leading to narrative distraction, the story spinning its wheels at every turn. The plot doesn’t develop as much as meander about, turning its simplistic characters around in circles, plunging them into one misadventure after another, none of it amounting to anything.

The setting is the moon, which in 2257 has become a mining colony and a waystation to Omega, an Earth-like planet that requires a 75-year trip in a cryo-sleep to reach.  Caleb (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) has had worse luck than most of the inhabitants there. The teenager’s mother died seven years ago and now his father has passed away as well. As an orphan’s benefit, he’s to be shipped to Omega. However, before leaving he wants to visit a distant crater that was his parent’s favorite place. Having never been there, he wishes to see it before leaving, something he knows the adults in charge won’t allow. With the help of his pals Dylan (Billy Barrett), Borney (Orson Hong), and Marcus (Thomas Boyce), as well as new arrival Addison (McKenna Grace), the group steals a rover and sets out to explore the distant crater.

All the characters are taken from Central Casting, each with an extra dose of irritating. With the exception of Grace, the other young performers are painful to watch.  Russell-Bailey’s overearnest approach makes it hard to take his character’s grief seriously, Barrett’s obvious choices are simplistic and broad, while Hong’s manic energy had me hoping he’d drift off into space. Am I being too hard on young performers? Perhaps, but when you see an actor as talented as Grace running rings around them, you expect her peers to keep up. More than anything, it points to director Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s inability to shepherd his young charges towards giving convincing performances, a fatal flaw for a film resting on the shoulders of such youthful performers.

Be that as it may, I doubt even the most talented group of young thespians could have salvaged this misguided venture. The conflicts the characters encounter are unnecessary and nonsensical, events that do nothing more than build frustration rather suspense regarding just what will be found at the titular location. Unfortunately, the last ten minutes features a series of scenes that are well-written, surprising, and poignant, things that were sorely missing in all that preceded it. In the end, “Crater’s” lack of credibility and intelligence makes it as empty as the moon itself.

2 Stars


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