Friday 2 June 2023

REVIEW: Crater (2023) - Starring Isaiah Russell-Bailey, Mckenna Grace, Billy Barratt, Orson Hong, Thomas Boyce, and Scott Mescudi

Review by Jon Donnis
Disney has been having a terrible time recently, they have released a lot of box office flops due to their desperation to appease a violent minority, I found myself looking forward to Crate in the hope they would go back to what they do best and just make a nice kids/family film. Did they succeed? Read on to find out.

Set in the year 2257, humanity has exhausted the resources of the moon after their attempts to colonize it apparently failed. Miners were subjected to a gruelling 20-year service before being granted the opportunity to embark to a new planet called Omega for colonization. If a miner passed away before completing their 20 years, their next of kin would be responsible for fulfilling the remaining time, along with their own 20 years if they were above 18. I think we can all see the issue with this, as surely any decent parent would just kill themselves when the child is 17, as that would mean they would automatically get to go straight to Omega, and not have to fulfil any time left over from their parent, nor have to do the 20 years. I am guessing Disney never quite thought this through as a concept.

Caleb Channing (Isaiah Russell-Bailey), a young boy whose father, Michael, tragically died in a mining accident, finds himself caught in the above predicament. In his father's last will and testament, Michael explicitly stated that Caleb should be sent to Omega since he was still under the age of 18. However, Caleb has a deep desire to honour his father's memory by following a map that his father had left him, a map that leads to a crater on the moon. Despite his reluctance to leave, Caleb has only three days left before he is scheduled to depart for Omega.

In a desperate bid to seize this final opportunity, Caleb seeks out the help of his best friend, Dylan (Billy Barratt), as well as their friends Borney (Orson Hong) and Marcus (Thomas Boyce). Together, they concoct a plan to venture out to the moon's crater using a rover. To facilitate their escape from the mining base, Dylan enlists the assistance of Addison Weaver (Mckenna Grace), the daughter of a renowned scientist from Earth. Addison agrees to provide them with the necessary passcodes on the condition that she could accompany them on the expedition.

The five friends embark on their daring journey, driving the rover across the moon's surface until they reached a point where they pause to admire the breathtaking lunar view. Along the way, each of the kids open up about their personal struggles and secrets. (Yes, this is a coming-of-age story, sorry). Borney's neurotic tendencies were a result of his older brother's unsettling stories, and Marcus has a heart condition that required him to take medication regularly. Dylan shares the painful revelation that his father had come close to abandoning him and his mother due to his involvement in the moon mines.

As they engage in a playful game involving oxygen canisters, Borney found himself perilously close to being launched into the vastness of space. Thankfully, the quick-thinking actions of the other children saved him from that terrifying fate. However, their rescue efforts consumed a significant amount of their oxygen supply. In dire need of replenishment, they stumble upon an outpost, which turns out to be a model home from the time when people had planned to inhabit the moon. Inside, the kids discovered a stockpile of oxygen, food, and other essential supplies, providing them with a place to rest for the night.

I don't want to say any more as I will give too much away, but they find something interesting at the Crater.

This is your typical kid's film, where physics and logic go out of the window, replaced with kids doing incredibly dumb things without ever really facing any consequences.

The ending is actually really well done, and I liked it, even if the film as a whole will have you rolling your eyes. As an adult you need to try not to criticise the glaring errors and stupidity, and instead just try to enjoy it as if you were a kid without such knowledge.

With this being a Disney film there are the usual attempts to tick all the diversity boxes needed. Black Kid, White Kid, Asian Kid, Girl, Boy, something in-between, you know the routine by now. However, after someone mentioned it online, it also occurred to me that Disney seems to think that 250 years in the future, racial segregation in procreating is a thing, you see there are no mixed-race characters in the film. Now I understand that Disney think they are pushing diversity by box ticking races etc, but the fact that everyone isn't mixed race, suggests that Disney views the future as black people only mating with black people, Japanese with Japanese, White with White and so on. Now normally people wouldn't really care much about such things, and I don't think you should either, but if you are going to down the "woke" route in every film you make, not having any mixed race main characters, and inadvertently pushing race purity and segregation as a future model for humanity, then perhaps you are not thinking this through properly, and your claims to support diversity and inclusion are nothing more than a marketing ploy, and a way to make sure you keep your diversity scores high for the investors like Blackrock.

The Good
The visual effects are of a high quality, the moon looks great, and the ending to the film is really well done. All of the child actors do a decent job, and will have good futures in the industry, I am sure.

The Bad
This is very much a kid's film, and anyone over the age of about 15 will find some of the dialog and scenes a bit silly. Some of the scenes on the moon, it is clear that the kids are on harnesses, and physics very much takes a back seat throughout the film.

This is a woke Disney kids' film, it will be exactly what you expect it to be, you will watch once, and forget about it.

It is not terrible by any means; I enjoyed the ending.

I score Crate a fair 5/10

Out now on digital -