Chaos Walking Parent Guide
This is the kind of train wreck that occurs when a smart premise crashes full speed into lazy writing.
Parent Movie Review
In the far-off future of 2257, humanity has branched out from Earth and established colonies on other worlds. Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) grew up in Prentisstown on the (creatively named) New World, where life has taken a turn for the worse since colonization. All the men have been changed by the planet, and now their every thought is on display in what they call “The Noise”, a whirling cloud of colors, sounds, and images around their heads. Were that not enough, a war with the indigenous aliens led to the death of every woman in town. So when Viola (Daisy Ridley), a scout for the second wave of colonists, crashes down just outside Todd’s farm, the entire town is thrown into chaos. Mayor Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen) fears the new colonists are a threat to his power and organizes heavily armed raiding parties to track the girl down. Unwilling to betray the only woman he knows, Todd goes on the run with Viola… and along the way, comes to question everything he thought he knew about Prentisstown, the war, and the Mayor.
Let’s get the content out of the way. The biggest concerns for parents are going to be some graphic violence and a fair amount of swearing, specifically 29 sexual expletives. Personally, my least favorite scene involves someone drowning a dog for a trivial reason, but there are also several shootings and one incident where a man is burned alive. (There’s also a brief scene of Tom Holland’s buttocks when he jumps naked into a river to catch some dinner, but at this point I’m just grateful to see him in a movie that doesn’t involve a camera looking out of his rectum. Cherry really did lower the bar for future Tom Holland projects.)
Content aside, Chaos Walking is a two-hour train wreck caused by an ambitious premise slamming into incredibly lazy writing. “The Noise”, the physical embodiment of every male thought, is an interesting idea on paper and a colossal headache on screen. It muffles dialogue, hides actors’ expressions, and is visually messy. I also have a significant issue with the film’s portrayal of the indigenous aliens who are known as the “Spackle”. Although they only appear in one scene, they are referenced in many more, and described as little more than savages. Comparisons to the European colonization of our own “New World” are unavoidable, but the film isn’t interested in challenging any of the harmful stereotypes about indigenous populations which persist half a millennium after the catastrophic Columbian exchange.
At the end of the day, the movie is simply too boring for me to get worked up about its many flaws. The plot is dull and blandly familiar, with flat characters who have, optimistically, all the personality of your average cardboard cutout. The screenwriters seem more interested in info-dumping expositional information about the colony and dawdling around in idle world-building than in developing the plot. The result is a sluggish, irritating slog through what looks like the Pacific Northwest (but is actually Quebec). The real surprise here is the cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, David Oyelowo… surely a cast this good has better projects to work on. Even Nick Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame turned up in this. But trust me, save your money and just go on a hike, you’ll have a better time. And that’s coming from a guy who hates hiking.Directed by Doug Liman. Starring Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, and Daisy Ridley.. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release April 2, 2021. Updated April 3, 2021
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Chaos Walking rated PG-13? Chaos Walking is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence and language.
Violence: Several people are shot and killed. A horse is killed when it suffers a broken leg. A dog is drowned slowly in a river. An individual is burned alive. A man falls in a deep hole, presumably to his death. Many people are shown with bloody injuries, including a woman with a chest wound. . A man chases and almost drowns people. There are fistfights.
Sexual Content: There is a brief shot of non-sexual male posterior nudity.
Profanity: There are 29 uses of scatological profanity and scattered use of terms of deity and mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated April 3, 2021
Chaos Walking Parents' Guide
What are some of the ethical issues associated with colonialism? How are these issues handled in other science fiction franchises? What have the consequences of colonialism been here on Earth? How do those effects continue today? What is neo-colonialism, and how does it affect you? What are some examples of neo-colonialist policy in the world today?
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This movie shares a lot of visual design with The Hunger Games, and generally with other teen fiction written around the same time: Maze Runner and Divergent spring to mind, but they’re almost unwatchably stupid. It is also reminiscent of the equally terrible Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.