A Boy and His Atom, a new short film I watched tonight, is representative of all the worst modern cinematic trends: a reliance on special effects instead of plot, paper-thin characterizations, and a childish interpretation of its potentially sophisticated themes. While I can certainly praise the filmmakers’ use of a new medium – it’s the first film to be produced at a literally atomic level, with atoms being manipulated on screen to form a recognizable arrangement of form and function – it’s not that big a deal, right? I mean, I’m made of atoms too. I move myself around all (well, most of) the time. Yawn.
The film opens on a simple tableau – very little time or effort was devoted to set decoration, the first of many examples of lazy filmmaking – and a “ball” bouncing across a floor. A boy catches the ball, then bounces it; a trampoline appears, and the boy bounces on it for a while, then stops and smiles. The trampoline turns back into the original ball, which bounces high into the clouds before (SPOILER ALERT) settling into position as the tittle over the letter “i" in a word – THINK – emblazoned in the sky. Cut to the letters IBM, in a rather egregious instance of product placement.
The boy in A Boy and His Atom performs admirably under the circumstances; as I mentioned, he and I are both collections of atoms, but he’s much more athletic than I am, and he really turns himself over to his role. And I can see what the director was trying to say about thinking being a lofty pursuit, one that can take place even among seemingly sentient atomic particles magnified more than 100 million times. In the end, however, this film is a creative non-starter – devoid of realistic motivations and lacking the living, breathing spark of humanity that can make or break even a small-scale endeavor.
Recommended for rental only; or, wait to see what Michael Bay does with it. I hear he’s optioned the rights and plans for a summer 2015 opening with Channing Tatum in the lead.