After hearing about this film through a friend, I thought it sounded similar to a number of other films that have been released in recent years. The films Push and Jumper came to mind.
Now that I have seen the film I believe that it is a metaphor of Intention and how intention is what shapes life. It is also about abuse and the consequences that abuse can have. Something it also demonstrates is that in order to have power, one must also exercise responsibility. And perhaps it shows what humane potential is; albeit in an exaggerated form.
These psychological aspects and metaphors of the film are my personal views and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors and psychological aspects are and their meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view
This will mean that I will miss out on certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. There will also be parts that I don’t understand and that will also be a reason as to why it has not been mentioned. This will also mean that it will not be like a storyboard and that I won’t be describing the whole story.
So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let’s begin.
The film begins with Andrew (Dane DeHaan) filming his daily experiences. This gives the film a low-budget impression, at least at first. Once he is back at home we soon get the first insight into his family life.
His mother has ill health and his father (Michael Kelly) also suffers from his own health, due to an incident at work. This must create an incredible amount of pressure on Andrew. His level of responsibility is also likely to be a lot higher than is appropriate for his age.
Soon after he has sat down to his desk; his father comes in. He complains about the door being locked and that he should not do it again. It is not long until his father comes over and knocks him off his chair.
This is a clear example of physical abuse and probably something he has had to deal with for many years. And with his father being a lot stronger, there is very little he can do.
As his father is injured and unable to work he is incredibly frustrated and angry with his life. And instead of processing and dealing with this pain, he is taking it out on his son. His son is weaker than he is and therefore can’t fight back.
Andrew is also isolated and doesn’t have the support of his mother. She is probably oblivious to what is happening. This could be because she is too ill to notice it or that she is in denial and doesn’t want to notice it. There is a term called the enabler; this person is not violent per se, however because of their passivity they are just as dangerous. They watch what happens and know what happens, but they chose to do nothing. So they offer little support to the person being abused.
It is here that Steve (Michael B. Jordan ) Andrew (Dane DeHaan ) and Matt (Alex Russell ) come across the cave. Shortly after being inside, they see a bright light. It is a strangely shaped object that is pulsating with light.
After a short while the camera goes off and the screen goes blank.
This light could be a metaphor for one’s true nature or true self. It caused them to tap into real power and strength. What they knew about themselves and what was possible came to an end. The power is exaggerated to create a bigger impact and to catch people’s attention.
If the power was the ability to control one’s thoughts and emotions or the merging of one’s mind, body, and heart it probably wouldn’t be very spectacular to watch. It would also be difficult to express this on film; as it is a process that is more internal than external.
Each of them can now move objects with the power of their mind.
This must be an incredible experience; to have such power. Out of the three main characters, Andrew is the one we know the most about. We know that his family life is not very supportive or functional and that he is being made to feel powerless by his father.
So after having experienced so little power, it must be a real shock to him. The trouble is that after being exposed to dysfunctional power for so long, his association of power is unlikely to be functional or balanced.
Into The Water
Whilst they are driving, Andrews’s mind gets out of control and he ends up moving a car from the road into the water. Fortunately, the man that was driving the vehicle is soon rescued and survives.
From all of the abuse that Andrew has been receiving from his father, it is not much of a surprise that he is angry. This anger shows that his boundaries are being crossed. Around his father, he has to repress his feelings and to do what his father says. And now the outside world is being directly influenced by these repressed emotions.
And Andrews’s lack of emotional intelligence and awareness can only cause him problems.
We see that the problem is not that Andrew has more power; it is that his intentions are not always constructive. His intentions are a consequence of the abuse he has experienced and the anger that this has created in him. He carries a lot of pain and trauma and this is creating destructive intentions.
In this example, we see that his emotional state is influencing his environment in a massive way. Expressed in such an extreme way it seems hard to relate to, however, there are numerous examples of how our emotions are affecting our reality.
Flying In The Air
The next power that they have is the ability to fly. For Andrew, this might be like going from one extreme to the other. He now has more freedom and power that he could ever have imagined.
School Talent Show
They do not appear to be the popular students of the school and as a result, there are not high expectations for their performance.
With their newfound ability, they soon capture the attention of the audience.
Here we see how the other students are behaving differently towards them. And this is of course because they now have these incredible abilities and are now behaving differently. Now, in the real world, it is clear that people do not have such skills, (or do they?) however it is possible to change one’s behavior. And this will lead to others treating one differently.
Confrontation With His Father
His father begins to question how his son is getting to school. Andrew says he is getting picked up and his Father dismisses what he says. He seems to think that his son is no longer going to school. He also says that Andrew has no friends and that no one likes him.
The usual pattern of violence starts, but the reaction is different this time and the pattern plays out differently.
Andrew is now a lot stronger; both mentally and physically. The roles have changed and Andrew is now the perpetrator. For many years he has had to deny and repressed how he felt and now he has the ability to express it. It is not much of a surprise that Andrew explodes.
And through the rejection of his father and his constant abuse, he doesn’t feel accepted or connected to his father. This is also the perception Andrew has of the outside world. Because he has not been made to feel that he belongs in his house, he doesn’t feel that he belongs in the world either.
Death of Steve
Andrew and Steve fly up to the clouds once more and it happens to be when there is a storm and Steve is struck by lightning.
This could be seen as a warning. They have been given great power and that by having such power they are required to have equal responsibility.
The power affected each of them in different ways. Andrew has been overwhelmed and this has led to careless behavior. Matt (Alex Russell) on the other hand has been more reserved and discerning with his use of his new power.
I believe that this power is a metaphor for how one’s intention is what defines whether something is good or bad. The powers that they have gained are neither good nor bad; they are neutral.
What has influenced their behavior is not solely the power; it is the psychological disposition that these individuals had before they gained the power.
We don’t know much about Matt’s upbringing; all we have to go by is his behavior around Andrew and Steve. He could be described as the sensible one, his temperament is fairly balanced and he comes across as reasonably adjusted. And because of this Matt is able to use these powers with restraint.
Andrew, on the other hand, is completely different. He understandably comes across as awkward and unbalanced. Everything that Andrew has felt for so long is now being expressed. It is not that this power is turning Andrew into something else; it is just magnifying what is already there.
Andrew loses Control
Andrew goes on a mission of getting revenge on the people who took advantage of him and he also steals money at a gas station.
He is now using power in the way he has been brought up to associate power. This is to take advantage and to control another. He has no idea how to use his power in a functional way. He still has the perception of a child; with a child being powerless and if the child is powerless it can’t have any responsibility. This will naturally lead to carelessness.
For so long he has been victimized and taken advantage of by his father and other people. And now he no longer has to put up with this behavior.
The wounded inner child has now consumed him and taken over. Before he had to repress and deny this side. To the people that know him, he now seems to have completely changed. When in reality all that is happening is his true feelings are being revealed.
And as he has not been made to feel that he belongs in this world by his father; he sees people as opposition and as antagonists. This makes it easy for him to violate other people’s boundaries. But this is only possible because he has never been allowed to develop functional boundaries himself.
Andrew has completely identified with his inner child or past trauma and has lost the ability to be conscious and to be an observer.
But then it is highly unlikely he has ever opened up about his experiences with his father. This could be out of the fear of what others would say or about what his father would do to him. If he had received the support of another; someone that could validate and acknowledge what has happened to him and most importantly stop his father’s abusive behavior, he might have turned out differently
While Andrew is on the hospital bed his father is soon there to visit him. Although just as it seems he is sorry to see what has happened, we find out that it has nothing to do with his son. And that he is upset due to selfish reasons and is mad at what Andrew has put them through.
This shows the narcissistic nature of his father and that his father has not developed enough to be able to think about another. This triggers Andrews’s pain and he throws his father out of the window. Perhaps this is an exaggerated example of what the abused imagine doing to their abusers.
Matt soon senses what Andrew has been doing and rushes back to stop him. This does little to stop what is happening.
Andrew causes endless destruction and Matt makes the decision to end his life.
This could be seen as a metaphor for good vs. evil; with Andrew being possessed by evil and matt being the savior.
The question is: was Andrew evil or was he just brought up in an environment that was dysfunctional? That is not to say that Andrew was not responsible for his actions.
After experiencing so much destruction, Matt decides to go to Tibet and fulfill Andrews’s dream of meeting the enlightened monks.
These monks have had to spend years developing their skills. These three individuals did not have that time. Their ability’s just happened and they didn’t have the time to understand and respect what they had.
Films often display things in a metaphorical or symbolic way. And these films then take on the identity of being classed as sci-fi.
These kinds of films also allow certain messages and outlooks to be filtered into the collective consciousness; triggering yet more intrigue and fascination around these topics. Are they completely fictional or is there an element of truth to them?
Either way, by people being aware of such possibilities it creates questions and the search for answers. The imagination is also fuelled by viewing sci-fi and this can only be good for one’s creativity. It is said that creativity is what allows one to be an individual; as it’s unique to that person.
This film also shows us that the power per se is not bad or dangerous. What makes the difference is the mind of the person using it and what their intention is. We also see the importance of being responsible when it comes to the handling of power. And in realizing that everything we do has a consequence.
If we see the world through the eyes of a child we will not believe we have any power and therefore we can’t have any responsibility. Our mind will then perceive life as something that just happens and will not notice that it is having an influence
Abuse is shown on a magnified scale. If for example, Andrew had not had such power he wouldn’t have been able to cause such destruction. The film might not have been as enjoyable either. He could have taken numerous routes; this could be self-harm, suicide, depression, social isolation, or criminality for example. Or he could go on to change his life and be an example to others. And through his actions and behavior, he could be a role model to others who find themselves in similar positions.
I wasn’t expecting anything from this film and I am amazed at how deep and meaningful this film is.