Combustible Celluloid
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With: Hunter Doohan, Katie Owsley, Mike Beaver, Paul Tassone, Vince Nappo, Andrew Bongiorno, Dwight Hicks, Markus Taylor, John Hawkinson
Written by: Dylan K. Narang
Directed by: Dylan K. Narang
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 99
Date: 05/08/2020

Soundwave (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A nifty, effective, low-budget sci-fi movie, this imaginative effort features decent acting, some simple, clever visuals, and a likable teen-superhero-type vibe, though it could have gone even deeper.

In Soundwave, orphaned teen Ben Boyles (Hunter Doohan) lives with his father's childhood friend Antonio (Mike Beaver) and works in an Antonio's electronics repair shop. Ben has built a device that allows him to pick up old sound waves, listening to conversations that occurred hours before. He sometimes uses it to listen to the girl he loves, convenience store clerk Katie (Katie Owsley).

When he learns that Antonio is about to be evicted, he agrees to help a shady cop, Detective Macy (Vince Nappo), using the device to solve crimes in exchange for cash. Soon he meets Katie and shares his invention with her, and things start to look up. But when Macy introduces Ben to the sinister "John" (Paul Tassone), who wishes to buy Ben's creation, things take a dark turn.

Written and directed by Dylan K. Narang, Soundwave has enough plucky energy to overcome the shaky science behind Ben's machine; it's believable that sound waves continue to bounce around forever, but entering a date an a time into the device is a bit of a stretch. Happily, Narang is more interested in the repercussions of such a machine, how it might feel to those who use it.

When the machine is actually being used, Narang employs a great, cost-saving device, reducing the action to a series of stills with enhanced color, like comic book panels. The dialogue in Soundwave is naturalistic, and all the performers are game in portraying characters with painful pasts. As they try to connect with one another, these walking wounded souls are effortlessly appealing.

Ben is especially touching, hiding behind his homemade headphones, and able to listen more easily than speak. But he's also streetwise, and seems smart enough to know when trouble is coming. He might make a pretty good superhero.

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