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Chaos Walking

The 21st Century has seen an explosion in young adult sci-fi novels becoming films. ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Divergent’, ‘The Maze Runner’ and others have evolved into franchises. A few have fared better than others, with the more successful capturing imaginations. Based on Patrick Ness’ book trilogy, ‘Chaos Walking’ is another in the growing genre. It helps having director Doug Liman on board as his skills in developing science fiction epics on the big screen enables ‘Chaos Walking’ to be more engaging than most.

Todd (Tom Holland) lives on a distant planet called New World. It’s a strange place where every woman has disappeared and the men are afflicted with ‘the Noise’ – a force putting all their thoughts on display. He meets mysterious girl Viola (Daisy Ridley), who has crash landed on his planet, and protects her from his world’s dangerous elements. Learning to channel his inner powers in order to keep her from harm, Todd and Viola go on the run as they discover the planet’s deadly secrets.

‘Chaos Walking’ follows a standard formula. The heroes are virtuous, the villains are pure evil and the plot moves at a familiar pattern. Despite Liman’s directorial flair and the strong performances, ‘Chaos Walking’ feels very generic. The twists and turns have been seen before with little feeling fresh. Particular scenes don’t make sense with this oft-delayed and much re-written film suffering from interference from too many behind the scenes.

With an intriguing concept, Todd’s determination to prevent his thoughts being heard leads to several tense scenes. Viola’s reaction to her peculiar new surroundings are believable despite the sci-fi trappings. These ideas are more from the source novel than the film’s script, which apparently waters down much of the book’s inventiveness. What’s offered is ok but could have been better handled. ‘Chaos Walking’ perhaps would have worked better as an ongoing TV series given how much is crammed within its brisk runtime.

A movie is only as good as its bravery in telling its story in a unique way. ‘Chaos Walking’ barely has any of that. It’s weaker than it should be with the central ideas not going far enough. This won’t stop further films in the genre from being made with the lure of franchise dollars always difficult to resist.

Rating out of 10: 5

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