Coming-of-age stories are powerful; growing up is a universal feeling, and we all go through it, but because of the context in which each of us has to experience that process, each experience ends up being different. So, other stories about the same topic are worth telling. In this case, we go to Australia to see the growth of a boy living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and still, his life is surrounded by problems. He has created problems on his own but also for the people who are supposed to set an example for him.
Ocean Boy is a film directed by Tyler Atkins and stars Luke Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, Rasmus King, and Savannah La Rain. The film tells the story of Rockit, a teenager living on the Australian coast with his father, Bosch. It all seems pretty cool, with the beautiful beaches and the wonderful people living peacefully by the ocean. But like in every paradise, there is a dark side, and Bosch’s own problems follow him and his son through a set of situations that might change their lives forever.
From its opening moments, the Australian coast scenery really does wonders when trying to sell the film as something you need to watch. As an advertisement for Australia and its beaches, this movie will make you want to go and enjoy everything the country has to offer. Later, as the story starts creeping up on you, the difficulties of living in such a place become apparent. The movie really makes a point in trying to stop you from being a tourist and start being a local as you mingle more and more with the characters.
Luke Hemsworth might be the biggest name on the bill, but here the true protagonist is young Ramus King in the role of Rockit. The story takes his point of view almost entirely at times. While it cannot be said he is the most accomplished of actors, his charisma is strong enough so that you can ignore some weird line delivery here and there and some overreacting in specific sequences. The young actor displays a lot of potential and is one talent we need to keep an eye on.
The rest of the cast does a great job. Hemsworth is a very solid actor. He has been outshined by his brothers in terms of celebrity power, but he can do as much, and I would argue, even more than his brothers have shown themselves to be capable of. I love for Luke to keep doing this small and exciting type of film and let his brothers take off the big franchises. It might not be as lucrative, of course, but he could become a very welcome presence in each project he appears on, the way he did on Westworld.
The cinematography is quite lovely; the movie might not have big sequences filled with vast amounts of visual effects, but it has something better. Like Avatar The Way of Water did just a couple of months ago, Ocean Boy has all the beautiful environments it needs to make you feel like you are in that place at that time. James Cameron might need to build Pandora from scratch, but we have some fantastic places right here on Earth.
However, for all the charm and beautiful scenery that the movie has to its disposition, it also faces a strange issue that might hurt it on every watch. The movie tries to mix a coming-of-age story with a crime thriller, and it splits the film in two by giving each of these parts its own protagonist. For the first two-thirds of the movie, the film feels very scattered in the way it tells its story, and you don’t really know what it is trying to say. Who is the real protagonist in this tale? The movie doesn’t give enough attention to any parts, resulting in their feeling incomplete.
You can definitely mix genres. When done right, it can lead to some truly original stories, but they have to actually be integrated. Here, in Ocean Boy, the movie feels like it is split into these separate parts. The plotlines start coming together towards the end, but it never feels completely organic. It ends up feeling more like these two subjects need to converge here because we need an ending, and we need it soon. So, this disconnection between the plots for the first two-thirds feels too jarring, and it not only makes the movie feel weird in terms of the plot but also when it comes to the tone.
In the end, Ocean Boy is a pleasant experience for the most part. It does well regarding the coming-of-age elements, and the ending really brings things together in the end. However, the road to get there is quite messy, and the crime plot feels like it could belong in another movie. Thankfully, all the actors do their best job, and this jarring sense of incompleteness can be overcome. It might not be one of the year’s most flashy or profound movies, but if you want to see something with good vibes, even in the darkness, this could be for you.