Five teens compete to win a mansion owned by an eccentric billionaire. The night takes a dark turn when they become trapped and are forced to face off against a super computer who has gone rogue.
After watching this movie, words like “innovative,” “imaginative,” “creative” and “contemporary” come to mind. This picture does a tremendous job in using technology and special effects to make the point that technology can be a very good thing, especially when it helps us to face the truth about ourselves. Teens and young adults will enjoy this movie, but it has a lesson for the older adults too—being too hard on your kids can damage them psychologically.
Chad Michael Murray stars as Atticus Virtue, a billionaire (worth $32 billion) who wants to offer five Bentonville high school kids the chance of a lifetime. He will select five geniuses to visit his mansion and there will be a series of technological tests and circumstances they will need to navigate in order to win the one and only top prize—the key to his mansion, and a more-than-promising future! One of the movie’s exciting moments is when the kids are waiting around with their cell phones, waiting for the five fortunate students to receive the invitation.
The five are Aiden, who has a bullying problem; Sophia, who loves to take photos of herself; Benny, whose life centers around video games; Connor, who wants to perform as a musician but is pressured by his parents to focus on his Lacrosse talents; and Maxine, known as “Max,” who has never gotten over the fact her dad left home when she was very young. It still haunts her.
Guiding the five is the distinctive voice of H.A.V.E.N., which is a home, automated voice, voiced by actress Marina Sirtis. Her character is there to help them—sympathetic, but snarky with the best of them when the teensvdisplay an attitude toward her. Sir Mordred, an automated robot wearing armor, is also there to help guide the teens. There are some comedic moments, such as when a girl says something which is a bit weighty, and a boy replies, “Did it hurt when you tripped out of the Nerd store?”
The film features great visuals, such as the virtual worlds, an incredible home video and security system, and luxurious rooms with the best this world can offer. There are also flying drones and virtual battles against monsters and alien creatures that will whet the appetite for more for lovers of video games.
Easter eggs are included, including the code 3:16 for John 3:16, and the faith-based elements of forgiveness and moral virtues are concretely established. A good story always involves character development and this movie certainly features that. In one scene, young Aiden confronts his dad about the father’s bullying tactics and Aiden makes it clear he does not intend to continue down that same road. Also, in a great scene, Max is told that she cannot change the past but forgiving her father for leaving them can change her future. All five of the main characters have moments of truth when they must decide what they will do. Will Connor go along with what his parents want for his career, or will he be true to himself? Will Aiden quit being a bully? Will Sophia turn the focus away from herself to others and to the world? Will Max make final peace with what her father did? And will Benny discover there is more to the world than playing video games?
There is never a dull moment in this fast-paced movie, a virtual feast for the eyes. It is tightly directed with an interesting story line. The movie is fairly wholesome, with some mild language and a few attitudes by various characters. We award it our Dove seal for Ages 12+, while noting that teens and young adults likely will love it, while older adults will enjoy the moral lessons that are nicely featured in the film.
The Dove Take:
This fast-paced movie is dazzling with its special effects and visuals and is definitely empowered by its strong call to solid moral values and making good choices.