‘Crater’ Review: A Teen Sci-Fi Adventure That Subverts The Typical Disney YA Routine

A bunch of nosy kids get into trouble looking for things they shouldn’t be in Disney’s latest sci-fi adventure film Crater. Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez and written by John Griffin, the film follows five friends as they travel to a moon crater to find treasure in the 23rd century.

The film starts with Caleb (Isaiah Russll-Bailey), Addison (Mckenna Grace), Dylan (Billy Barratt), Borney (Orson Hong), and Marcus (Thomas James Boyce III) trying to hijack a space rover in the middle of a lockdown due to an oncoming meteor shower. As the group argues why their plan isn’t working, Caleb thinks about how his deceased father, Michael (played by Scott Mescudi). In the wake of his Dad’s death he finds he’s been chosen to go to Omega—an off-moon paradise and home of the wealthy. He doesn’t want to go and leave his friends, but according to Slater, he has no choice.

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In a previous memory, Caleb’s father told him there is a special crater on the moon that he wanted to show him. This was the reason for the gang stealing the rover in the first place. The problem is they’re heading out during a meteor shower in the middle of a lockdown and heading out into a terrain they are unfamiliar with. They also need the access code to steal the rover and escape the mines, which is how Addison joined the group. She’s from Earth and the daughter of a scientist. The girl agrees to give the boys what they want only if she can accompany them. Now the little adventure crew is assembled.

Crater is a surprisingly charming albeit generic YA film with some hard-hitting themes on capitalism and classism. The boys are lifers on the moon. They aren’t rich and have never been outside the space station dome, even though most individuals are supposed to be signed on to work there for 20 years with the promise of going to Omega when their terms are up. Also, their education is limited, as the boys learn more about mining than they do anything else.

The movie has no business looking as good as it does. Disney didn’t skimp on the budget because this is a kid’s movie. The production design by Nora T. Ekberg is impeccable, as indoor and outdoor shots, matched with VFX work by Carey Villegas, feel like they are out in space and not just some sound stage in the middle of Los Angeles. In addition, the costumes by Ane Crabtree partner well with the cinematic aesthetic of cinematographer Jas Shelton, who utilizes gray hues with a splash of color at just the right moment to give the setting a sense of realness.

The acting from the five leads is the most authentic part of this story as they are allowed to sound and behave like teenagers who have been friends for years. While the film can be hokey at times and super convenient for the protagonists, Crater is a film with something to say about the labor force as well as an environmental message about cherishing and preserving the Earth and all it has to offer.

Title: Crater
Release Date: May 12, 2023
Distributor: Disney+
Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Screenplay/Producers: John Griffin
Cast: Isaiah Russll-Bailey, Mckenna Grace, Billy Barratt, Orson Hong, Thomas James Boyce III, and Scott Mescudi.
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour and 44 minutes

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