Review – Stop Thinking So Loud! (“Chaos Walking”)

It’s bad enough some people have an unfiltered mouth, but now you have to worry about having an unfiltered mind as well? In this movie, based on Patrick Ness’ YA books, your very thoughts (a condition called “the Noise”) are projected out-loud for all to see & hear. Yikes!

Even Spider-Man, Kaecilius (or Galen Erso), and Rey Skywalker being in this film couldn’t help it! Beset by production delays, multiple script changes, and many reshoots, this chaotic, messy, and trite sci-fi thriller takes place in the year 2257 where Earth has colonized a planet dubbed New World (yeah, real original!), which is home to an alien species called the Spackle, a sorta black leathery Sleestack-looking creature, but more on them later. On this planet is Prentisstown, a small colony of only red-neck Deliverance kinda guys, since all their women were supposedly killed by the Spackle. 

Trying to cope with growing up and being ignored is Todd Hewlitt (Tom Holland), a farmer boy who longs to be the Mayor’s (Mads Mikklesen) little lap dog, if it weren’t for the Mayor’s pompous son, David (Nick Jonas). Y’see, the Mayor can project his Noise to create holograms and control others. He also has a hush-hush secret that he’s trying to keep hidden from the town zealot Preacher (David Oyelowo) and others. Meanwhile, a scout ship crashes nearby leaving just crew member Viola (Daisy Ridley) alive. Todd finds her and is stunned; he’s never seen a girl before and his thoughts go all wacky for her. On this planet, only men have the Noise, not women, which is a real bummer!

Pretty soon, all the Prentisstown men are on the hunt for Viola since they don’t want her signaling the mother-ship, and Todd is the only one that can get her to a radio transmitter before she gets killed. A word of warning, if you’re a lover of horses or animals, I suggest you close your eyes during several parts of this movie since the brutality they inflict on some animals is ghastly. Yes, I know it’s faked, but I still cringed! The screenplay is credited to Christopher Ford (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and author Ness (A Monster Calls), but it took no less than SIX other screenwriters (including Charlie Kaufman and Johhny Lee Hancock) to deliver this completed mess.

Let take the Spackle, for example. Alien creatures who are talked about, seen once for about 20 seconds, then never referred to again! Who are they? Are they friendly? Why does the one we see only have one arm? Do they speak or do they have the Noise, too? We never know. And that’s just the tip of the plot hole iceberg. Scenes happen that make you say, “Wait, did I miss something?” And while all the “hearing & seeing other people’s thoughts” is a nice gimmick, it gets old real fast and never has the impact, I suppose, it must have had in the book series. Take that away and it’s a standard, boring sci-fi story that you can see on the SyFy Channel.

The only saving grace in this dull epic is director Doug Limon (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow), who tries so hard to bring some life into this awful script. His camera moves are nice and filming jaw-dropping stunt work is impeccable, but even his master hand can’t save something that clearly needed a complete re-write. Holland (looking confused) does a decent job here and even takes some pretty nasty stunt falls, while Mikkelsen plays his usual face-carved evil self on auto-pilot. Ridley is the best thing about this movie, showing more emotion with her looks than her words. Jonas is wasted for the little amount he’s on camera and Oyelowo is sadly underused.  

**Now showing in theaters only, many which have recently re-opened! Enjoy!


What Women Want (2000)

Before his downward spiral in 2011, Mel Gibson was a major player in Hollywood. This utterly bizarre little film, directed by Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, The Parent Trap), showed off that Gibson magic charisma and charm that he used to have in spades.

Say hello to Nick Marshall (Gibson), a chauvinist alpha male in the Chicago advertising biz who is keenly skilled at selling products to men… and seducing women. Being the narcissistic pig that he is, he expects that big promotion, but his manager, Dan (Alan Alda) instead announces that he is hiring Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt), because she appeals more to women. Oh, and there’s a dumb side-plot where Nick’s estranged 15-year-old daughter, Alex, (Ashley Johnson) is staying with him while his ex-wife, Gigi (Lauren Holly), is on her honeymoon with her new husband Ted (Robert Briscoe Evans).

Anyway, Darcy tells the staff to develop advertising ideas for a series of feminine products that she distributes at the staff meeting. But while testing a few items at home, Nick falls into his bathtub while holding an electric hairdryer and, instead of getting seriously killed, he awakens the next morning to discover that he can hear women’s thoughts! Realizing that most of the women at work dislike him and consider him sleazy, he makes an impromptu visit to his former therapist, Dr. Perkins (Bette Midler) who encourages him to use his new-found ability to his advantage.

So he does. Nick eavesdrops on Darcy and sabotages her ideas to use as his own, but (naturally) soon becomes attracted to her. Over time, Nick succeeds in repairing his female acquaintances/relationships but, OH NO! Nick loses his psychic gift during a severe thunder and lightning storm on his way to see company secretary, Erin (Judy Greer), who (telepathic ability revealed) has been contemplating suicide. He offers her a position that she was previously turned down for and all’s well that ends well–I guess.

The main problem with the script by Josh Goldsmith & Cathy Yuspa (13 Going On 30), and Diane Drake (her one & only screenplay) wasn’t so much the beginning, but the middle and the end sucking. It started out as a sharp comedy with a wild fantasy premise, but then fizzled-out into one of those hopeless Lifetime movies where the ending makes no sense and all the humor and fun is gone. Even Myers, with her deft hand at directing, couldn’t salvage this mess at the end as this fantasy-comedy turns abruptly into a dramedy with a message. WTH??

Sure it had potential, with Gibson and Hunt at their cutsie-best, then you have delicious Marisa Tomei, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine, and a host of other great supporting women that just shine. And don’t forget the Divine Miss “M” making a terrific cameo as a therapist! And check out a very young Logan Lerman (the future Percy Jackson) as Gibson in a flashback.

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