REVIEW: ‘Crater’ Digs Deep into the Innocence of Youth

In 2015, screenwriter John Griffin produced an unsolicited screenplay that drew rave reviews, finding itself with the fifth most votes on that year’s Black List, an annual list of Hollywood’s best, unproduced screenplays. Eight years and one major media merger later, Griffin’s screenplay, Crater, helmed by 13 Reasons Why and The Stanford Prison Experiment director Kyle Patrick Alvarez is set to hit Disney Plus and, as it turns out, the Hollywood execs were right about the potential in the script. Crater is an innocent and heart-warming coming-of-age story with hints of inspiration from genre classics such as Stand By Me, The Goonies and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Set on a lunar colony in the year 2257, Crater tells the story of Isaiah Russell-Bailey’s Caleb and the group of friends that help him fulfill a promise following the death of his father in a mining accident. Caleb enlists his group of friends–and a newcomer in Mckenna Grace’s Addison–to help him keep that promise and together they embark on a road trip across the moon full of fun, danger and discovery.

On the moon, five teens take an unauthorized and adventure-filled road trip just before one of them is to be sent away on a seventy-five year journey to another planet, leaving behind his best friends.

Description of Crater from the 2015 Black Lists
(L-R): Orson Hong as Borney, Thomas Boyce as Marcus, Billy Barratt as Dylan, Isaiah Russell-Bailey as Caleb and Mckenna Grace as Addison in CRATER, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The kids’ mission is simple enough: take Caleb on the road trip he had planned with his father before his untimely death. However, the situation becomes complicated when Caleb learns that the clock is ticking and that he’ll be leaving the moon for the paradise planet known as Omega in three days. Further complicating things is an impending meteor shower that will force the inhabitants of the lunar dome into a lockdown that will last…3 days. Caleb and crew make the decision to steal a lunar rover, hit the road and head to a place Caleb’s mother and father held dear: a crater that holds an unexpected treasure.

Given that the friend group’s adventure takes up the vast majority of the film’s runtime, the chemistry among the actors had to be strong in order for the project to work; fortunately, the young actors work well together. While the key relationship is between Caleb and Billy Barratt‘s Dylan, each of the young core has more than ample opportunity in the spotlight. Grace is great in her supporting role as Addison, whose intelligence and emotional maturity help center the group during some more frantic moments and the odd couple buddy dynamic between almost-too-mellow Thomas Boyce‘s Marcus and Orson Hong‘s WAY-over-the-top Borney adds humor and heart to the story.

(L-R): Isaiah Russell-Bailey as Caleb, Mckenna Grace as Addison, Thomas Boyce as Marcus, Orson Hong as Borney and Billy Barratt as Dylan in CRATER, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Though the threat of danger is ever present as the kids make their way to the titular crater, the road trip is really about what every road trip is about: rebellion, introspection and the journey towards self-actualization. Caleb’s impending journey to Omega weighs heavily on him as not only will he never see his friends again, but given he’ll be in stasis for 75 years during the trip, they’ll all have had an entire lifetime of experiences that he’ll miss. And so, Caleb and his friends let it all hang out on their last few days together.

Who will Caleb be without his parents and friends on Omega? Who will his friends become without him? These questions are explored and answered so innocently and authentically that Crater will make you remember what it’s like to be a teenager again and just how much of who you are at that time is determined by who you surround yourself with.

Source: The Black List

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