Aleasha Hintz — Staff Writer
As I walked into the theater at Cinema 5 to see Chaos Walking, the first thing that caught my attention was how few people occupied the fold-down seats. Including me and the two friends I brought, a grand total of five people watched the Saturday matinee of Chaos Walking.
The premise of Chaos Walking has all the ingredients for a great, although somewhat vanilla, sci-fi film. The final iteration of the movie is, by a critic’s standard, ultimately ‘blah.’
On a planet only ever referred to as New World, a settlement of humans makes their home. Unbeknownst to the settlers when they first arrived, a germ called Noise would infect the minds of all men and put their every thought on display for all to see and hear.
The result is a near-constant cacophony of thought. In the movie, it presents as a purple, orange, blue, and sometimes green haze. Some men control their Noise quite well. And others, like young protagonist Todd Hewitt, played by Tom Holland, have significant difficulty keeping their thoughts to themselves.
Due to a war with the native species, spackle, there is only one settlement left on New World, called Prentisstown. The settlement itself is made up entirely of men. The mayor claims that the women in the town were all killed off by the spackle.
The story then follows Todd as he meets a girl named Viola, played by Daisy Ridley. She is the first girl he has ever seen, and awkward but adorable moments ensue, even as they flee from Prentisstown and its dark secrets.
Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley do not disappoint in this film. Their performance is charming, and their on-screen dynamic is compelling. According to many critics, they are the one good thing about this film.
I disagree. Maybe I do not understand film. Maybe I am easily entertained, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The premise was interesting enough to hold my attention. And Todd’s Noise had a knack for making things awkward between him and Viola, which I thought was awkward, funny, and even cute.
The presentation of Noise itself I also found interesting. Some characters, like the mayor, have their Noise under complete control, with few aural leaks. In contrast, Todd’s Noise is always firing. He often has to cover up secrets with a mantra of “I am Todd Hewitt. I am Todd Hewitt. I am Todd Hewitt.”
Others still, like the resident preacher, see the noise as a gift and make no effort to conceal it. Highly saturated oranges and blues color the preacher’s aura, which spews Biblical hellfire and brimstone references.
One frustrating aspect of the movie is its characterization. I found myself quite attached to Todd, his adoptive dads, and Viola, but their story arcs do not offer anything new.
I even had a morbid curiosity for the town’s preacher, the foreboding and manipulative zealot. He is fun to watch. The movie turns him into a plot device, which is a shame. His character had the potential to be quite the antagonist.
The movie is inspired by a young adult sci-fi book called The Knife of Never Letting Go. I think that some of the weak plot points are the consequence of trying to fit a 12-hour audiobook into less than two hours of screen time. The potential is there, but the execution is lacking.
The, well, chaotic history of Chaos Walking can explain some of its shortcomings. Lionsgate had the production rights for this movie for ten years before it finally got released to the big screen two weeks ago. It experienced several delays due to having different screenplay writers, directors, reshoots, and a delayed release due to the pandemic.
Despite the harsh critique of the film from movie connoisseurs, I loved it. Sure, the movie could have been better. Yes, all of their critiques about the underdeveloped characters and limping plot are valid.
If you are a sucker for action and easily entertained like I am, Chaos Walking is worth seeing at least once. It is not a blockbuster by any means, but it is good enough for me and my friends.