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Doug Liman
Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Demián Bichir
Writing Credits:
Patrick Ness, Christopher Ford

Two unlikely companions embark on a perilous adventure through the badlands of an unexplored planet as they try to escape a dangerous and disorienting reality, where all inner thoughts are seen and heard by everyone.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 5/25/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Doug Liman, Producer Alison Winter and Editor Doc Crotzer
• “A Director’s Noise” Featurette
• “Inner Thoughts” Featurette
• “The Source of Silence” Featurette
• “Citizens of Prentisstown” Featurette
• “The Music of Chaos Walking” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Trailer


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Chaos Walking [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 31, 2021)

Stories don’t have to take place on the 19th century US frontier to qualifies as Westerns. As an example, 2021’s Chaos Walking offers a take on the genre that takes place on another planet.

Set in 2257, humans run a colony on a planet simply named “New World”. As an odd effect of this place, men’s thoughts become apparent to all around them, a phenomenon known as “The Noise”.

In the village of Prentisstown – led by namesake David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen) – only men survive. According to Prentiss, the planet’s natives – known as the Spackle – slaughtered all the females years earlier.

Young adult Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) lives with his adoptive fathers Ben Moore (Demián Bichir) and Cillian Boyd (Kurt Sutter). He struggles with his place in this society.

One day a spacecraft crashlands near Prentisstown, and Todd discovers Viola Eade (Daisy Ridley), the only survivor – and the first female Todd has ever seen. Her presence creates a furor in Prentisstown, and when David and others threaten her, Todd works to shepherd her to safety.

Chaos comes based on Patrick Ness’s 2008 novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. Lionsgate acquired the rights in 2011 and the film shot in 2017.

So why did it only hit screens in 2021? Because of a mix of problems involved with the production, most of which apparently related to reshoots completed due to unfavorable test screenings.

With a budget of $100 million, Lionsgate clearly hoped Chaos would launch a franchise, but that seems unlikely. Even by COVID-era standards, the movie’s $13 million gross seems blah, and with weak reviews as well, the film failed to find an audience.

I can’t blame moviegoers for their disinterest, as Chaos came with a problematic publicity campaign and just didn’t earn viewers. While it remains fairly watchable, the film also comes across as meandering and uninspired.

At its core, Chaos delivers a simple plot, as it focuses on the “Point A to Point B” journey of Todd and Viola. However, the movie can’t even tell that basic narrative well, as the trek and the general goal fails to seem clear.

Yeah, I get that Todd intends to deliver Viola to safety. Unfortunately, the film makes little else clear, so we don’t really understand where Todd/Viola eventually hope to end up and other aspects of their path.

It doesn’t help that Chaos does remarkably little to develop the roles. We get some basics about our leads but not enough to turn them into full-blooded characters.

Instead, Todd and Viola offer attractive, vaguely likable personalities who never stand out as memorable in any way, shape or form. We kinda sorta almost care about them, but that occurs more to the fact we’re conditioned to root for the “good guys” more than anything the story earns.

Really, the most dynamic aspect of the Todd/Viola narrative relates to the “will they or won’t they?” aspect of their potential romantic relationship. Normally a movie like this would push the roles to fall in love, but Chaos toys with us in that regard. It’s not an especially dynamic theme, but it seems friskier than anything else in the film.

It’s a general sense of ennui and monotony that most dominate Chaos. As noted, the film never feels truly dull, but it can’t find much sense of purpose or heart, so we’re stuck with a not especially interesting journey with not especially compelling characters.

The filmmakers seem to sense the lack of depth to the movie, and they resort to some cheap tactics in an attempt to evoke emotions in the audience. In the interest of spoiler avoidance, I won’t reveal these, but they really do come across as tacky, a factor made even worse by the fact Chaos goes to that same well more than once.

I can’t claim that I felt bored by my 109 minutes with Chaos, as it managed just enough action to keep me vaguely involved. However, I definitely can’t say that the movie engaged me. It offers a one-dimensional and somewhat spiritless project.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Chaos Walking appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I expected a brand-new big-budget flick like this to look great, and Chaos did.

Overall definition worked well. Some effects shots could be a little soft, but those instances were infrequent and minor.

The vast majority of the flick offered tight, accurate delineation. I saw no shimmering or jagged edges, and the image lacked edge haloes or print flaws.

Like many modern action flicks, Chaos opted for a fairly teal palette; it also leaned toward an amber tone at times. I would’ve liked something that deviated from the norm, but within its parameters, the hues seemed positive.

Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. Across the board, the movie looked terrific.

Downcoverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, I also felt consistently pleased with the appealing Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Chaos. With a fair amount of action, the soundscape used all the channels on a frequent basis. This led us to an exciting sonic experience much of the time.

The various speakers provided lots of information that filled out the movie and blended together in a seamless manner. This formed a dynamic soundscape with a lot to offer.

In addition, audio quality seemed strong. Music was bold and full, and even with a lot of looped lines, dialogue remained crisp and natural.

Effects appeared lively and vivid, with clear highs and deep lows. I felt pleased with this impressive soundtrack.

We find a good roster of extras here, and we open with an audio commentary from director Doug Liman, producer Alison Winter and editor Doc Crotzer. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, various effects, editing, music, sets and locations, and related topics.

Lots of commentaries focus on happy talk and praise for the movie and all involved. This track doesn’t follow that path.

Indeed, Liman seems determined to reveal each and every problem the team encountered during this messy production. While we still find positives, the commentary focuses on a mix of pressures and concerns the filmmakers encountered as they went. This level of honesty and frankness allows the track to become highly satisfying.

Seven Deleted Scenes fill a whopping 45 minutes, one second. The first offers arguably the most interesting, as we get a “Prologue with Young Todd” that introduces the character as a child and also gives us exposure to other roles in prior years.

Other scenes tend more toward extensions of existing segments. Some expand these segments more than others but most go down that path.

Though the idea of a glimpse of “young Todd” sounds interesting, the scene feels expository and redundant, as the movie covers the same information elsewhere. The rest tend to run too long as well and don’t add anything I’d view as valuable.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from LiMan, Winter and Crotzer. They tell us about the scenes and why they didn’t make the final cut. Some of these repeats info from the feature commentary but we still get additional decent notes.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a mix of featurettes. The Director’s Noise runs 18 minutes, 10 seconds and presents remarks from Liman, Winter, cinematographer Ben Seresin, and actors Daisy Ridley, David Oyelowo, Nick Jonas and Mads Mikkelsen.

We see footage from the production while we hear about a mix of production topics and challenges. This manages to expand on the commentary and bring some insights.

Inner Thoughts spans nine minutes, three seconds and brings notes from Ridley, Oyelowo, Winter, Jonas, author/co-screenwriter Patrick Ness, producer Doug Davison, and co-screenwriter Christopher Ford. They discuss the novel and its adaptation in this informative piece.

With The Source of the Silence, we get a seven-minute, 18-second reel that features Ridley as she reflects on aspects of her performance, her character and her experiences during the production. This turns into a pretty solid chat.

The Citizens of Prentisstown lasts 10 minutes, nine seconds and delivers comments from Ness, Oyelowo, Mikkelsen, Ridley, Jonas, producer Erwin Stoff, and actors Cynthia Erivo and Kurt Sutter.

“Citizens” looks at cast and characters. It throws out a few decent details, but it feels more superficial than the prior featurettes.

Finally, The Music of Chaos Walking goes for four minutes, 17 seconds and features commentary from co-composers Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts. As we watch movie scenes, they tell us about the musical choices. This turns into a short but insightful program.

Despite a good roster of talent involved, Chaos Walking becomes a mediocre science-fiction effort. The movie musters just enough narrative drive to keep us with it, but it usually feels bland and derivative. The Blu-ray boasts strong picture and audio along with a nice roster of bonus materials. This winds up as a forgettable flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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