Crossworlds (1996)

Pam here, it’s time for another review. Here at MMT, sometimes we feel like watching a really bad movie, sometimes we prefer to see a not-so-bad one. Since it’s the beginning of summer, Nate and I decided to be easy on ourselves and pick a movie that’s bad enough to offer plenty to snark at, but not so bad it’s painful to watch. We also thought we’d like to do a fairly new movie, and one without giant monsters. So off to Netflix Streaming I went, opened the category Science Fiction, and looked for a movie with three stars or less. Crossworlds is what I found. The little blurb accompanying it says that it’s the story of a college student who finds out that the pendant his father left him holds the key to interdimensional travel. Well, crud. Why couldn’t my parents have left me something like that? So the movie sounds interesting, and, while I do my best to suppress my envy, let’s see what happens.

The movie starts with what I first thought might be that curse of the B-movie, a voiceover. But it lasts only a couple of minutes, and it informs us that “warlords” not only conquered one world, they’ve found a “key” to take them to other worlds to conquer. The speaker is a woman who seems to belong to some sort of resistance group on the conquered world. The next scene at first seems to have nothing at all to do with this, because it’s set in Albania “20 years ago,” which would put it around the mid-1970s (this movie was made in 1996). We see a youngish man in what appears to be an underground tomb, prying open a stone sarcophagus and lifting out a wooden staff from the grasp of the skeleton inside. A graverobber! But he may not have his ill-gotten goods for long, because he turns around to see several men in dark suits who seem to have appeared from nowhere. The man with the staff is admirably calm, in fact he doesn’t even seem surprised, as he turns to face them. The leader asks him, “Where’s the rest of it?” to be told, “Somewhere you’ll never find it.” This exchange is ended with a flash of lightning, also from nowhere. Ooh, spooky mysterious doings! What do they mean? I’m actually eager to watch more, something that I don’t feel that often when I watch movies for MMT.

The light!

Hmm, I think we’re going to have to wait to find out about the staff, the men, and the unexplained appearances. We switch now to the hero of our story, a college student named Joe Talbot. At first glance, Joe appears to be something of a loser, and we see a several-minute-long scene that shows Joe striking out with a girl at a party. When he gets back to his cramped, messy studio apartment, he finds a message on his answering machine (how long has it been since you’ve seen on of those?) from his mother, informing him that he left some of his books at her house, and also that he got a parking ticket in the mail. Not the best day of his life, but at least he doesn’t live with his mother, that thought ought to cheer him up a little.

Joe (appears a tad old for college?).

Joe is stretched out on his bed, eyes closed, dozing, when it appears that his bad day just got a lot worse. You’ll recall how several men suddenly appeared out of nowhere in an Albanian tomb. Well, it seems they’re not the only ones who know how to do this, because out of nowhere, a beautiful blonde girl appears in Joe’s apartment. One thing that makes it seem as though Joe won’t find this a dream come true is that she pulls out a large knife and stealthily approaches his throat. However, it seems she’s not a killer, only a thief: she lifts a cord out from under Joe’s shirt to reveal…a necklace? It’s a good-sized yellowish stone strung on the cord, and it looks like one of those artsy pendants you can buy from independent artists. It seems a little girly for a man to wear, though, so why does Joe have it? And how did she know he had it, since it was hidden under his shirt?

Looks like he bought it at Hot Topic down at the mall.

Joe wakes up before she can cut the cord and make off with the pendant. The girl pulls the knife away from Joe before he opens his eyes, and at first he does think it’s a dream come true, but all of a sudden the window near his bed shatters, throwing broken glass all over the room. Joe wakes up completely, enough to realize something odd just happened, and his first reaction, not unreasonably, is to request the strange girl to leave. An obstacle to this appears when Joe opens his front door to usher her out and, instead of a Southern California suburb, sees a vast desert with a club-wielding horseman galloping straight toward him. He gets the door shut before the horseman can do anything to him, but his troubles are only beginning.

Green screen, of course.

He finds out when a burly man in a dark suit comes crashing through an as-yet-unbroken window, clutching a firearm of some sort (don’t have a clue what the gun is, maybe Nate knows), and proceeds to spray bullets around the room. Actually, I’m really not sure what this gun is, because despite the fact this is a small, cheap studio apartment, he not only doesn’t hit either Joe or the girl with the bullets, he doesn’t even damage the drywall. The girl pluckily attacks the man during a brief lull in the firing, and she does manage to knock the gun away from him, but he’s a lot bigger than she is, and he picks her up and throws her against the wall. Joe appears to be under the impression that this is a jealous boyfriend, and while he’s begging the strange man for mercy, the girl sneaks up behind them, knocks the man down, and grabs Joe and drags him out the door. So they’re in a desert with somebody galloping around and trying to club them to death, right? Not at all. They’re in the suburb, running from still more bad guys, all firing bullets. Except for shattering the back window and putting holes and cracks in the windshield of Joe’s car, these bullets don’t do much, either, and they don’t appear to disturb any of the neighbors in this well-populated area. Joe’s car is still drivable, and the girl gets the keys from Joe, then they drive off in a hail of bullets, none of which is doing any discernible damage.

Drama in his rented house!

Joe of course demands an explanation from the girl, and she tells him there’s a spatial rift and there are bad guys after him. Reasonably enough, he tells her to take him to the police but doesn’t fuss when she refuses, although the sight of the horseman was probably enough to convince him these aren’t ordinary burglars. The girl takes Joe to a cheap motel, probably quite some distance from Joe’s apartment, since they set out at night but it’s daytime when they get there. She leads the way to one of the rooms and opens the door to reveal a huge empty warehouse. Another spatial rift, I assume. By the way, the girl is wearing a really short skirt, I mean, Japanese-anime-schoolgirl short. So short they must have had to be extremely careful when filming her so as not to show anything unsuitable for a PG-13 movie. She’s also wearing a tank top that shows a fair amount of cleavage. All of this may have something to do with why Joe didn’t jump out of the car somewhere on the apparently long drive to the motel, which I would say would have been the sensible thing to do. The girl leads the way across the vast floor, with Joe gawking and trying to figure out how it can all fit into a standard-sized motel room. And she didn’t shut the door behind them, which seems stupid, since anybody could walk by and see what’s in there.

She distracts from the shot-up car.

I don’t understand either, Joe.

The girl leads Joe toward a man who’s welding a large silvery sphere, nature unknown, but it looks appropriately non-Earthly. He greets her as “Laura,” so I can stop calling her “the girl.” The welder is A.T., played by Rutger Hauer, the only famous actor in this movie. Laura asks him for help, which he doesn’t want to give. Even claiming she was sent by the “Council” and the “Queen” fails to move him, but his attitude softens when Laura reveals the pendant she was unable to filch from Joe and which he’s still wearing. Joe’s revelation that his father gave it to him gets A.T. to agree to help them, but now it’s Joe’s turn to drag his feet. It seems a little late in the day for this, but in any case, A.T. talks him into coming without much trouble. So far, Joe seems to be the sort of person who’s easily pushed around by others, anyway.

The sphere never leads to anything plot related.

A.T.’s “help” seems to amount to accompanying them to something called the Turnbull Museum. They’re driving Joe’s shot-up car with the bullet-pocked windshield, and why they weren’t pulled over by the police I can’t imagine, since that windshield is nearly impossible to see through. But they get there, and Laura seems very sure of what she’s looking for. She goes inside to find it, while A.T. and Joe ungallantly stay outside where they think it’s safer. A.T. seems to be expecting some kind of attack, and ominous background music suggests he’s right. Finally Joe decides he can’t take the suspense any longer and goes in to find Laura and ask her to hurry up, while A.T. remains outside, clutching Joe’s pendant, which for some reason Joe let him keep.

A.T. is crafty.

This museum doesn’t seem to have had any sort of underlying purpose in assembling its collection, since we see rock specimens, displays of stained glass, carved wooden furniture, small ornamental objects, and suits of armor plus shields and swords all displayed in close proximity. What are suits of armor, shields, and swords doing in an American museum, anyway? There are almost no cards or signs to indicate the provenance of any of these objects, either, which makes it seem more like a big antique shop than a proper museum. (Yeah, yeah, I know – the filmmakers were in a hurry to throw together something that looked museum-like, and they didn’t have the time or the money to devote to details.) Fortunately Laura knows what she’s looking for: it’s the Scepter of Dyracchion (thank you, subtitles), and she’s not going to leave until she finds it. Could this be the carved wooden staff the man found in the tomb in Albania back at the start of the movie? Could that man have been Joe’s father? Laura does give into Joe enough to speed up the search by dispatching him to one end of the building to search while she starts at the other. I question whether this will help any, though, because she didn’t bother to tell Joe what the scepter looks like, and as I said, there are many random objects assembled in this museum. Joe has what would normally be a good idea and asks a museum employee for help, but in view of A.T.’s apprehension and the apparent need for secrecy, this might not be such a good idea after all. And in fact, if you look closely at the man he questions, this man bears a striking resemblance to the man who led the group into the Albanian tomb where Joe’s father found the staff. But the man is kind enough to take Joe to the scepter, which he claims was excavated “this year” (mistake by the writers, or will it have some significance?) from an 11th-century Albanian church. (So what’s it doing in the United States? By 1996, most countries were hanging on to their antiquities.) He even tells Joe that it was designed to hold a crystal, which, according to legend, gave the scepter special powers, perhaps even made it a key to another world. Laura turns up right about then, and shortly thereafter the lights go out.

Joe, stop touching the glass.

“Joe, stop touching the glass!”.

The man, who as it happens is named Ferris, and Laura stare at each other, and it seems as though Ferris has managed to hypnotize Laura, when just then A.T. pops in, smashes the glass in the display case, and grabs the scepter. At this point our three get chased through the museum, although the wimpy Ferris seems to be leaving all the work to the suits of armor, which have begun lumbering around, swinging swords. This leads to the demise of many glass display cases among exciting showers of glass, which almost hides the fact that our three are easily outpacing the slow suits of armor. In fact, A.T. has time to fasten the crystal into the scepter (good thing Joe left it with him, eh? I was wondering why he didn’t demand the crystal back), and blast a hole in the wall, leading into what might be another world. Oddly, Ferris has caught up to them but just stands there glaring. Spoiler, sort of: we’ll see as the movie progresses that his Spooky Mind Powers tend to come and go with no rhyme or reason; well, actually, according to the demands of the plot.


Visible stuntman in suit, re-shoot! Or don‘t, whatever.

Joe isn’t eager to jump through the hole, and I don’t blame him, but the animated suits of armor must have done a lot to make any alternative seem good, and he goes through with Laura and A.T. Luckily they end up in a relatively benign environment: an ocean, close enough to shore to swim back easily. Once they’re safe on the beach, Joe has a meltdown, which I find completely understandable. After all, he’s been shot at and attacked by suits of armor (!) in less than 24 hours, and he has no idea of the nature of these people or their intentions. A.T. unbends enough to tell Joe that he and Laura are from another dimension, and they’re good guys, the scepter had been in the hands of bad guys, and if they don’t get the scepter to a safe place, they’ll be in big trouble. Joe, again understandably, finds this unsatisfactory, and he’s expressing his opinion with some heat when they hear sounds coming from behind some rocks. They all pause and look around apprehensively, but – whew!- it’s just a couple of surfers! They’re still on Earth! Whereupon A.T. removes the crystal from the scepter, hands it back to Joe, and marches off, clutching the scepter. Is it just the scepter that has to be kept safe? If not, why give Joe the pendant?

Well, Nate, I think I’ve had enough fun. I’m going to stop here and turn this review over to you. What do you think of brave Joe and his companions so far?

Cross your legs, young lady, must be proper.

Thanks, Pam, I’ll take a chunk of this for you. First off, this is one of those movies where you are consciously aware at all times of the limited budget. Maybe it’s just the stigma of being direct-to-video, or the presence of paycheck whore Rutger Hauer, but you can’t help but wonder at the end of each scene just how much all of this is costing. Not that I’m making a running total of dollars spent, though I should, but the lack of resources is evident in the director’s decisions on just about everything from cast to crew to locations to effects. The surfer dude playing Joe and the valley girl playing Laura were still unknowns, and Hauer was working for cigarettes and french fires at this point in his career, so you can‘t really say their salaries were breaking the budget. Laura wears the exact same outfit in every shot, as do most of the guys, so costuming was a cheap buy. The number of extras with speaking roles are in the single digits and a lot of the scenes are filmed in public-use parks or in the backyard of the director‘s wife’s cousin‘s house in Torrance, so that’s small change there. The post-production efforts are pretty simple, just some optical overlays and a lot of foley’d in sound effects, no one dropped ILM money on anything here. The interior sets and exterior locations are reused often, vehicles are old and junky, the green-screening is art school level, the scepter looks like it came from Hobby Lobby, just not a lot of areas where you can say “Wow, that must have cost a bundle to film!”. Quite a few scenes seem like they should have been re-shot but everyone was really rushed to get it in before the checks started bouncing, I’m guessing that principle photography on this movie might have been less than two weeks. As cynical and snarky as I am, however, I can admit that it’s a much more entertaining and well-acted movie than you’d expect. I’ve no idea who the filmmaker is other than the ten seconds I spent on google a minute ago, but he’s certainly to be praised for keeping the story moving along briskly and not making me throw anything at the screen in frustration (yet).

Nothing is cheaper than filming in the desert.

So anyway, this movie is confusing as hell. I realize they were going for a “multiverse” feel by constantly (like every damn two minutes) flipping between one of a dozen different “worlds and times”, but it’s done in such a generally haphazard way that you tend to drift off after a while because you can‘t keep anything straight. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in this movie seems to be able to bend the laws of time and space at will, magical relic or not. A.T. and the hot girl bounce them around from desert to sidewalk to beach with nary a Jedi hand wave and the bad guys (especially Ferris) barely need to blink an eye to instantly zap everyone and anything across the cosmos and back. It’s never really explained (sufficiently) how these characters are able to move between worlds or what the limitations or their powers are. Can they leap into the past or future? Can they pick the place and time they jump to? It all seems so random and I hate that.

VW Bug! (equally random)

The whole “need the crystal to power the scepter” thing is a McGuffin, no one really needs either to do amazing metaphysical stuff at will. Not even sure at all why these items are even in this movie, where they came from, why they were lost, why they can do so much, all that makes no sense without firm rules that can‘t be broken. But that’s ok, I appreciate that they leave a lot unanswered. This film is full of throwaway one-liners about royalty and revolution, and subtle hints dropped about the many worlds and events beyond our own, but 99% of that stuff is left up to our imagination. I like that, when I watch a movie I don‘t want to be force-fed everything, I want to leave the theater with some mysteries unsolved, even if the biggest mystery so far is how Laura keeps her hair looking so good.

And how A.T. can wear that duster in this heat.

So after bouncing around various Southern California locales for some no-permit guerrilla shooting in alleys and on empty side streets, ultra baddie Ferris manages to capture the crystal and Laura and is holding it and her in his massive hi-rise office building in LA. What? Yes, one of those movies where the evil dude is a suit-wearing, Jaguar-driving, golf club-membershiping rich guy with an entourage of pretty secretaries and ponytailed bodyguards. Who just happens to be a dimension-shredding Warlord from beyond time and space. Ok.

Wow, that sign’s “shadow” looks so fake.

It’s also one of those movies where the Lead Male (Joe) is willing to risk his life to save the Lead Female (Laura) for no reason other than “it’s in the script”. Seriously, go back and count the hours, the two of them have known each other for less than half a day, and in that time they’ve spent about 85% of it running from bullets or dealing with cantankerous A.T. No time for any sort of romance to blossom, no time to learn anything about each other on a personal level, nothing that you would think that would cause Joe to launch an ill-conceived suicide mission to save her. Move on, Joe, you can find another girl, hopefully one that isn’t a time-traveling assassin with anger issues. I will say, however, that Laura is a total babe and that plunging neckline/tight skorts ensemble is driving me nuts and I‘m sure Joe is suffering from a similar diversion of critical blood flow when she‘s around. But this isn’t Omaha, Joe, it’s LA in the summer, tall blondes with perky boobs grow on trees, no need to die for Laura, just walk down to waterfront after 6pm and you’ll forget about her in a minute.

High maintenance.

But Joe doesn’t listen to me and he convinces A.T. to try some hair-brained scheme to get her back from Ferris and his goons. That works as expected and Joe and A.T. are captured, Ferris can monologue about how awesome he is, and all seems lost. Ferris and A.T. have some banter scenes, showing us that Rutger Hauer is a surprisingly better actor than I suspected, though he’s not really given much to work with here. As bad as things look, however, at least A.T. was smart enough to hide the scepter before being caught and he has enough leverage with Ferris to get him to let his guard down enough that all three of them can eventually escape.

Awww…cute doggie!

Cue more scene-shifting and time-jumping and they all end up in a junkyard where A.T. seemingly sacrifices himself to let Joe and Laura flee with the scepter. But no one stays dead in this movie for long and A.T. reappears for the final climactic showdown between good and evil on the sepia-toned plains of the Mojave Desert. Ferris seems to be enjoying toying with Joe, punching and kicking his ass throughout various worlds and nearly giggling with joy at poor Joe’s pitiful attempts to fight back. Things aren’t looking good for our flannel-and-jeans hero! Pam, I can tell you liked this movie a LOT better than I did, so I’ll let you answer that question that all of us (…just you) are dying to know. Will Joe be able to find his inner strength and confidence in time to save the multiverse from Ferris’ evil plans?

I kinda hope not.

Yes, he eventually does, Nate, but the showdown starts off badly for the good guys. Ferris immobilizes Laura almost immediately, but just about then, who should show up but A.T., emerging from a ball of fire and pushing Ferris’ chief henchman in front of him. Your guess is as good as mine as to how these two escaped the explosion, but just before it happened, A.T. stuck a nail or something between his teeth, so that might have had something to do with it. A.T. gets a warm welcome from Joe, but Ferris is not so glad to see his henchman and in fact disintegrates him on the spot. A.T. squares off with the staff, but Ferris breaks the news that he substituted a fake crystal for the real one, and he himself has the genuine article. (Nate, you’re right about the scepter. Seen closeup in bright light, it looks like plastic.)

OMG you can see the green screen blur, that’s terrible.

A.T. throws away the fake crystal, and Ferris and A.T. begin beating each other up with their own two hands. I have no idea why Ferris doesn’t just disintegrate A.T., too. Also, for some reason Ferris’ other henchmen just stand around without trying to help their boss. Uh, guys, you had a bunch of guns earlier, this might be a good time to shoot A.T. with them, don’t you think? But A.T. and Ferris keep pummeling each other, while Joe takes Laura’s advice and runs off with the scepter to get it to a safe place. By the way, A.T. manages to grab the real crystal from around Ferris’ neck, but Ferris doesn’t seem to notice this. However, Ferris sees Joe with the scepter, abandons A.T., and starts whaling on Joe. Ferris is not a very big man and is old enough to be Joe’s father, but he must be a lot stronger than he looks, because he not only kicks, pounds, and punches the bigger and younger Joe, but he has the breath to keep taunting Joe nonstop. (Also, Joe’s dropped the scepter and A.T. still has the real crystal, but Ferris is ignoring both for now and just keeps hitting Joe.) Ferris can also spare the energy and concentration to transport himself and Joe to various locations, although it doesn’t seem to occur to him to either 1) grab the scepter, which is currently someplace near A.T., and take it somewhere else himself, or 2) transport Joe and himself to someplace like the middle of the ocean, leave Joe there to drown, and transport himself back to a place of safety. Despite the fact that A.T. was able to transport himself and somebody else away from the explosion, it doesn’t seem as though now he can transport himself anywhere. In fact, A.T. seems to have suddenly come down with a bad case of the feebles and hands the scepter and crystal over to Joe, who is momentarily a jump ahead of Ferris, and tells him it’s all up to him.

Hauer emotes!

Joe slams the crystal into the staff, similar to the way more conventionally-armed heroes shove a clip of ammunition into a pistol, and strides off to do battle with Ferris. At first it doesn’t go well for Joe. The staff seems to pass right through Ferris when Joe swings it at him, although Ferris’ blows connect with Joe. Even though Ferris has Joe on the ropes a couple of times, he seems to prefer insulting Joe to grabbing the scepter from him and getting out of there. But finally Ferris reminds Joe that he killed Joe’s father, and from then on, exact reason unknown, Joe’s blows start connecting with Ferris. Finally he manages to shove the staff right through Ferris, which causes Ferris to shrink up around the hole and finally disappear.

Bad guy fini.

A.T. and Laura now run up from somewhere off-screen, all smiles, to congratulate Joe. I think we’re supposed to assume that they both realized they couldn’t begin to measure up to Joe’s…strength or whatever it was that suddenly kicked in, and hung back to keep out of his way while he saved the day, but to me it looks as though they might have just decided to let the dumb kid do all the dangerous stuff and are hoping he doesn’t figure that out. Anyway, Joe strides off, displaying the gruff modesty befitting a Boy Who Has Just Become A Man (but with a hint of a strut), and they all vanish in a puff of smoke, cause of said vanishment not apparent, to reappear at the camp of the group to which Laura and A.T. belong. By the way, Ferris knocked Laura down on the ground and tied her up tightly using his Spooky Mind Powers, hit and kicked A.T. very hard many times, and gave Joe a really brutal beating, but they’re all moving easily without so much as a limp, and Laura’s face is completely unmarked, not even any smeared makeup. A.T. does have a slight bruise under his right eye, and Joe has a couple of small scratches on his face. Real-life people would also no doubt be shaky for quite some time after the fight was over, especially the inexperienced Joe, but these three aren’t even breathing hard. Also, their clothes are clean and undamaged.

Joe’s staff is strong and Laura likes it.

The camp isn’t very big for a group that’s fighting to regain not only its own world, but to keep the bad guys from conquering others, but it’s housed in tents, so maybe this is just a temporary encampment for a small portion of the entire Resistance. Our crew are taken to the Queen, who is beautiful but unregally attired in a plain blue shirt and dark pants. Much earlier in the movie, when A.T. at first refused to help Laura and Joe, it appeared he was taking an unauthorized vacation from the Resistance, but if so, the Queen seems to be okay with that now. She’s slightly more peeved with Laura, because it seems nobody authorized Laura to go after the crystal and the scepter, but after a frown and a few words spoken in a slightly raised voice, Laura is forgiven also. I can only speculate on what sort of military group this is, if its members are allowed to go off on their own whenever they please and do whatever they please. It seems A.T. has decided to stay here for good, having possibly rediscovered his patriotism through Joe’s good example, but alternatively because he decided that this is safer than going off on his own.

The rebel camp.

The Queen, who shops at Ann Taylor.

The Queen tasks Joe with taking the scepter and the crystal back to his world, saying that this is the safest place for them to be. Really? In the hands of a lone man who doesn’t know exactly how to use them, instead of being with a group of (presumably) experienced fighters who (possibly) are familiar with them and their powers? But it’s the Queen’s decision, and Joe isn’t arguing but is preening and referring to himself as a “trans-dimensional warrior.” Yes, it seems he’s not just the caretaker of the weapons, he’s signed up to fight for this cause. As a special signing bonus, Laura goes back home with Joe and spends the night with him, and as an extra-special bonus, stands scantily clad at his bedroom window long enough for his friends to see the babe Joe’s dating now. Sorry, guys, I can’t be more specific than “scantily clad;” this is a PG-13 movie and nothing is shown below Laura’s bare shoulders.

Laura cleans up nice.

I kind of like this movie, but I don’t expect to be watching it over and over. I would have loved it when I was about 12, which is what I think the age of the target audience was expected to be, but now that I’m older and have watched many better movies, I see problems with this one. The big problem, as Nate pointed out, is that there seems to be no consistency in the Special Powers, and without that, there’s no suspense, because you know the hero is going to win. It seems as though any of the main characters can use the powers in any way required by the plot. It’s not even clear why the scepter and the crystal are so important, since Ferris in particular seemed to do fine without them, and Laura, A.T., and the Queen didn’t say anything about what use they would be put to. And if they’re so important, why wait twenty years to try to get them back?

Ferris attempts to explain the plot to Joe.

Another problem I wouldn’t have recognized when I was 12, because Joe’s actions are taken for granted in this kind of movie, is why Joe not only didn’t bail on Laura the first time he got shot at but actually agreed to help the Resistance at the end without asking anything about them. Granted, Laura’s pretty, but according to Nate, who notices some things I don’t, there are a lot of pretty blonde girls in Southern California with whom having a relationship doesn’t mean risking your life. But in this kind of story, both in movies and in books before movies existed, the hero automatically joined up with the good guys, that was just the way things were. The audience for this kind of story was generally young and inexperienced enough to accept the conclusion uncritically. However, we older and more cynical people may wonder about a few things.

I can’t stop screen-capping Laura…

I thought it was pretty suspicious that Laura and A.T. did a little token fighting, then hung back and let Joe handle Ferris. They didn’t even give him advice on how to use the scepter. If Joe had some kind of superspecial ability inherited from his father that most members of the Resistance don’t have, no mention was made of it, and we saw A.T. using the staff to get them out of the museum, so Joe’s not the only one who can use it. As I said before, this could suggest that they wanted Joe to do all the dangerous stuff. It could even mean that over and above not wanting to risk their own lives if they could talk somebody else into getting the scepter for them, they were setting Joe up to think he was something really extra-special so that if he survived Ferris, the Resistance could con him into taking on something so dangerous none of them wanted to do it. It’s suspicious that the Queen didn’t ask Joe any questions before letting him take the scepter home. Not that I’ve ever been the leader of a resistance group, but I would think you don’t let just anybody in without doing a thorough check, and you observe a new recruit for a while before you trust him completely with a valuable one-of-a-kind weapon. Couldn’t the fight between Joe and Ferris have been staged by Ferris’ people to make the Resistance think Joe was on their side? Even if Joe’s father was a loyal member of the Resistance, Joe had never heard of them until Laura showed up, and Ferris could have convinced Joe at some point that Joe was better off signing up with Ferris’ side. It looks odd that all of a sudden the scepter started connecting with Ferris when up until then it seemed to pass through him harmlessly. Ferris could have faked his disappearance. And come to think of it, even if the fight between Ferris and Joe was completely legit, how do they know Ferris is really dead? Oh, well. Maybe it’s just that the scepter plus crystal are such a dangerously unstable combination that the Queen wants them stored far enough away so that none of the Resistance will get hurt if something goes wrong with them. And it just occurred to me, why was Ferris storing the valuable scepter in a museum open to the public, anyway? He had that office building plus a lot of armed henchmen, wouldn’t it have been safer in there? Maybe there is something dangerous about having the scepter around.

A lot of mistrust here.

Joe probably should have been asking himself some of these questions, and he really should have found out more about the Resistance before agreeing to help them. Granted, Ferris and his men seem pretty bad, but at this point he has no way of knowing whether the Resistance is any better. He didn’t even ask how much he gets paid for risking his life. Oh, and Ferris may well be dead, but aren’t there any more bad guys who will try to get the scepter back from Joe? Poor Joe may live to regret his decision.

Uh, no, I think he’s good.

So, not a great movie, but not awful either. I agree with Netflix and give it just under three out of five stars. It occurs to me that the filmmakers might have been planning a sequel or even hoping it would become a TV series, and were planning to explain some of the powers of the scepter, and the nature of the two opposing sides. What’s your final opinion of this movie, Nate?

Well, Pam, I honestly hated it. Sorry. Well, some parts of it were ok, but the stupid stuff really shaded over anything that was good. It desperately cries out for a big-budget Hollywood remake, the idea is intriguing and with the right cast and script I’d watch it again. Maybe. It was, indeed, better than Gamera vs. Jiger

Oh, and Jack Black is in this movie. I know, right?

The End.

Written in July 2014 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.

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