After spending time in television, director Kyle Patrick Alvarez returns to features in Crater from Disney +. John Griffin pens the screenplay for the coming-of-age sci-fi adventure. Caleb Channing, played by Isaiah Russell-Bailey, grew up in a lunar mining colony. After his father Michael's death, played by Scott Mescudi, Caleb is scheduled to relocate to a peaceful planet far away permanently. But before leaving to fulfill his dad's last wish, he and his three best friends, Dylan (Billy Barratt), Borney (Orson Hong) and Marcus (Thomas Boyce), and a new arrival from Earth, Addison (Mckenna Grace), hijack a rover for one final adventure on a journey to explore a mysterious crater.
If you grew up in the eighties and nineties, Crater may seem very familiar to you. The plot draws elements from a few 1980s classics, mainly Explorers and The Goonies but imbues them with a surprisingly serious atmosphere. Our protagonists, five kids, and a van, take their mini adventure in outer space over the course of ten hours. There's no warfare or extreme conditions; drama unfolds as characters interact and dynamic change.
The narrative style is mature and respectful, steering away from expectations to surprise viewers. Neither child-friendly nor complex enough for adults to engage in, it nevertheless offers some moving moments here and there. While there are lighter moments every now and then, the overall atmosphere is mainly gloomy, as if looking at a black pebble on the moon.
The story's focus on the characters and their relationships must be more in-depth. Only two or three of the five main protagonists possess compelling backstories, while a single characteristic primarily defines the others. The characters acknowledge this deficiency, with the only female character stating, "I'm just a girl from Earth, and you're just a boy whose parents are dead." It's unusual for characters to be so transparent with the audience about their limitations.
The acting in the film is what you would expect from a movie like this. However, I was fond of rising star Isaiah Russell-Bailey's relationship with hip-hopper Kid Cudi who plays his father. McKenna Grace also provides solid work. Recently, Disney+ has been releasing many sequels, remakes, and spin-offs. It's refreshing to witness them creating something that is even slightly original.
Final Grade: B-
Crater is streaming on Disney+ now.