Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Kaboom

Non Spoiler Review:
Kaboom is a recent film by Gregg Araki, a director I'm not familiar with, but who appears to have plenty of potential and creativity. Thomas Dekker (John Conner from Sarah Conner Chronicles) plays Smith, an ambiguously bisexual college student who is suffering from nightmares and visions that deal with a range of oddities—assassins in animal masks, long corridors ending in mystery doors, and faces of people he's never seen before. Smith's college life is a mix of strange encounters and an enviable amount of sex. He chills with his high school friend Stella (Haley Bennet), while pining after his outrageously metrosexual roommate Thor (beautifully, dumbly played by Chris Zylka). At a party he meets a new special friend, London (Juno Temple), and that sparks a bizarre series of events and coincidences culminating in a revelation that encompasses pretty much everyone. I can't really detail much more without spoiling a lot of the fun of the film. 

The cast is beautiful and everybody excels with their particular role. So many college films have annoying and unlikable characters, but this is what everybody wishes it were like—sexy people never at a loss for smart and witty dialogue. Beyond the cast, this movie looks amazing—vibrant colours that radiate off the screen. And simple bits, like Smith being chased by men in animal masks, are effectively creepy.

Kaboom has been referred to as the new Donnie Darko, but that's a pretty tall order. The fault lies in the attempt to knit all the weirdness into a reasonably cohesive package that doesn't feel like it's been wrapped up in five minutes. But that's exactly what happens. I was riveted by the mystery until the last 30 seconds.

The revelation of the plan spills out of the mouths of key players (who pop up for that single purpose) so fast that it actually does provide a lot of humour as the characters try to take in all the outrageous explanations with the audience.

How I looked watching the final 30 seconds.
It's a credit that Arakis assembled the perfect cast in a pretty film, but his need to involve a grand plot device runs counter to all he's constructed. Many of his players are absorbed by the conspiracy plot and are seriously diminished after everything the audience has invested in them along the way.

It feels like Araki had a string of interesting and crazy ideas he wanted to put in a movie, built up a cast of fleshed out characters, and found there was no way to suitably give the ending any justice.

That leaves me divided on the final verdict, because Araki could have simply tempered the weirdness a bit and focused on the people, and it would have remained a fun movie. There are ways of reading meaning into the ending given the themes of the film, but part of me left thinking it was writer's block. That being said, I'm less angry about the conclusion now than I was watching it. So be warned. I recommend Kaboom as a sexy, beautiful, fun ride, but it will be over before you know it.

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