There was a lot of hate on this film when it came out (just one example from io9 of how it continues). I was truly saddened that it was pretty well deserved. As director and co-writer Josh Trank’s first film after his huge surprise of Chronicle, it was even a greater disappointment. The wry and dark humor of Chronicle gave way to a near Disney-like setting, some kind of weird cross between Tomorrowland and Project Almanac in feeling.
What is even more disappointing is that the talent involved with the film, Trank included, couldn’t overcome any of the deficiencies. Miles Teller (Insurgent), Kate Mara (Transcendence), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and Jamie Bell (Nymphomaniac) as the young Turks were just barely passable. And Tim Blake Nelson and Dan Castellaneta were empty puppets of the script. Going beyond the cast, even the music was by power-houses Beltrami and Glass, whose work was fine, but nothing to save the experience.
There are a lot of interesting possibilities beneath the banalities of the production. It is certainly an F/X extravaganza. But it had no hook and no one interesting enough to care about. It needed to be harder and grittier. Instead we got something that was a better fit for the 70s than the 2010’s. I’m just hoping that Trank gets another bite at the apple and that this was just an anomaly or a situation of getting too big a project too soon in his career. He has ability and vision… just not enough of what makes him unique made it to the screen in this case.