It’s the year 2067. The effects of climate change have ravaged the earth to the point that all plant life has become extinct, consequently resulting in a global oxygen shortage that is rapidly killing humanity. In a grimy Blade Runner-esque city, a message is received from a time machine that requests unremarkable everyman Ethan Whyte (Kodi Smit-McPhee) be transported 400 years into the future in the hope that he’ll be able to find the means to save the world from destruction. However, upon arrival Ethan is met by his own skeletal remains as a larger mystery reveals itself.
Despite all its technical flair and visual excitement though, director Seth Larney’s Chronical: 2067 ultimately proves that spectacle alone doesn’t equate to engaging or interesting storytelling. Rather, the former VFX artist’s latest feature is a joyless and generic affair. From the predictable beat-by-beat delivery of this cautionary environmental tale and the many throw-away platitudes that only pay lip service to broader eco-philosophical and existential themes, to the set and costume designs which look like they could’ve been taken from any other unimaginative sci-fi flick, every aspect of the picture is bursting with cliches from the genre. Despite the rather unique way his movie presents these all-too-familiar tropes, Larney is unable to bring anything new to the table to make this time travel trip worth the audience’s trouble.
Even if the lines did contain an anchor of originality for viewers to hang onto, McPhee’s performance isn’t able to carry the weight of the film’s ambition. When he’s not awkwardly mumbling or dramatically sobbing, he (as well as those he shares the screen with) gives the impression that he could not be more detached from the situation at hand. How can observers be expected to care whether Ethan succeeds in his mission of saving the world if he himself doesn’t? It’s nearly impossible.
Although the initial setup of the central mystery shows promise, the script quickly strips away any excitement thanks to lazy and inconsistent writing. Narrative conflicts are treated as minor inconveniences that are easily resolved within moments; none of which matters in the long run when one can see the narrative’s trajectory long before it happens – including a groan-inducing final twist.
Larney’s indie sci-fi flick may have technically impressive visuals on its side, but these don’t come close to amending for its numerous other shortcomings.