Throughout Chaos Walking, I kept wondering, is Todd gonna think about sex?
Chaos Walking Synopsis
Todd Hewitt is the son of human colonists on a lush alien “New World,” one in which all women have been slaughtered and the thoughts of male humans could be seen and heard as “Noise.” When a female colonist named Viola crashlands near his town, Todd decides to assist her in her quest to contact her mothership. The adventure quickly leads to Todd learning the grim truth about his strange world.
Movie adaptations of popular young adult book series are productions to be wary of. As most film lovers would know.
While there were hits like the earlier Hunger Games movies, most end up “neither here nor there,” to borrow a Singlish phrase. The usual challenge of condensing tens of thousands of words into a few hours on the big screen aside, I think producers too often opt to simplify lead characters. Or, they chose to bank on the personas of popular actors, rather than explore the intricacies of the characters being portrayed.
Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness’ award-winning trilogy, is another example of the latter. (And correspondingly, doubly tragic since Ness was involved with the screenplay) In a nutshell, this is a Tom Holland spider-boy thing. The movie begins and ends, and is all about Tom’s i.e. Todd Hewitt’s awkward adolescent struggles with embarrassing thoughts that can be heard aloud.
I say spider-boy because I can easily imagine Peter Parker going through the same situations. For example, the things he thought of when Captain Marvel rescued him.
To be clear, the show is not entirely unentertaining. Todd’s feverish mental chants and inevitable slips into unbecoming thoughts are consistently ticklish. As mentioned above, I also kept wondering, with amusement, how on earth did he manage to not think about sex.
But, a story like this should be more than those, and that’s where this adaptation markedly falls short. Many potent themes like religion, misogyny, misinformation, and invasive colonialism are flashed and then promptly forgotten. Interestingly, the nature of the relationship between Todd’s “fathers” is also shied away from.
Not much of a watch, in other words. Good for a laugh, and a treat for Tom Holland fans. But it’s very shallow everywhere else.
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