MOVIE | Kids’ moon colony adventure lacks originality but ends well
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➤ Rated PG
Crater is a coming-of-age story about a boy named Caleb (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) who lives in a harsh mining colony on the moon in the year 2257. After his father dies in the mines, the colony plans to ship Caleb to humanity’s new utopian home on the distant planet of Omega. Before Caleb leaves, he needs to fulfill his father’s dying wish and travel to a mysterious crater far away from the lunar dome.
A motley group of friends helps him steal a rover and come along for the ride.
In some ways, Crater feels like a throwback movie from the ’80s with a gang of misfit kids embarking on a ludicrous adventure without adult supervision. In our day and age of social-media isolation, there’s something charming about a movie in which friends form closer bonds as they defy authority to go outside and take some risks.
But the movie feels a little too familiar at times, with likable characters who easily fit into the quirky stereotypes that have been staples of kids’ movies for years. There’s plenty of action, but the peril never seems very perilous. Most kids aren’t likely to get scared, and some parents might find themselves checking their watches.
Crater also touches on some current complaints against 21st-century capitalism. The moon’s mine workers aren’t much more than indentured servants, and the film presents a world in which working folk feel the system is rigged against them while the hyper-rich build rockets to the stars. The moralizing is a little heavy-handed at times, but kids’ movies aren’t known for subtlety.
Despite some aspects of the plot feeling contrived, I was surprised by Crater’s ability to pull off an emotionally satisfying ending.