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As explained in a scrolling text prologue, Crossworlds is set in a
universe where there are multiple dimensions and travel across
dimensions is made possible by a "key" of sorts that unlocks doors
between them. The key is powerful, so obviously there are various
parties vying for it. As the film proper begins, we see a man head into
a cave to retrieve some ancient relic, only to be confronted by
sinister looking men. Then we head back to "contemporary" California to
meet Joseph Talbot (Josh Charles), your average film world young,
partying college student. Soon Joseph encounters Laura (Andrea Roth)
who introduces him to dimension-hopping. It seems Joseph has some role
to play in the war for the key.
Much has been said about the resemblance between Crossworlds and The Matrix (1999). Although some of the similarities are surely coincidences, many may not be. I suspect there will be no end to discovering source material that was somewhat cribbed by the Wachowski Brothers in the three Matrix films. I know that the more pre-1999 genre films I watch, the more I find material that the Wachowskis unofficially "adapted" for their work.
On the other hand, similarities between Crossworlds and the first Matrix film underscore a point that I like to make about film criticism--I do not agree that originality is a criterion that should be factored into one's rating of a film. That's not to say that I'm advocating plagiarism--far from it. But being strongly influenced by other material, or even "riffing" off of it is not a problem in my opinion. For one, the works we claim are original may turn out to be not so original after all. It's an epistemic problem. Critics are not omniscient, so any work deemed original may turn out, upon future knowledge, to be just as strongly influenced from material we just didn't happen to know about. So what we're really doing if we award points for originality is saying, "I'm not familiar with any material that this film is influenced from, therefore it is better than a film where I am familiar with precursor material". I believe The Matrix is a much better film than Crossworlds. The similar material is handled much better by the Wachowskis.
That's not to say that Crossworlds is bad. It's just average. It has an equal amount of good points and bad points. The principle problem I had with the film was the same problem I had with Constantine (2005)--there is obviously a dense mythology in the writers' minds that forms the basis of the plot, but the audience isn't told enough of the mythology for the film to achieve greatness. You are never quite sure of the "rules" of the Crossworlds universe. As soon as you begin to get your bearings and figure it all out, some new character appears, some new kind of unusual device, action or ability occurs, and we're in the dark again, trying to update our scorecards so that the new material is coherent with the previous material. It saps any potential suspense out of the film. It's a difficult problem for any author who wishes to create alternate worlds, with alternate operational rules. One has to find a balance between too much exposition/explication and not enough. Scripters Raman and Krishna Rao (who also directed) err on the side of not enough.
There are other problems, many of which seem to be related to editing and specifically the fact that Rao probably had to cut a much longer film down to 90 minutes. That may also be part of the reason that needed exposition/explication is missing. Rao might have figured that if he has to lose material, it's best not to lose more action-heavy scenes. Changes in setting, plot and/or character attitude are occasionally too abrupt. For example, Joseph expresses frustration at the dimension-hopping predicament (right after they leave the beach) when it seems that he's barely experienced any of it. This should have been saved for a later scene, and perhaps in the original cut, it did come much further into the film.
But the film also has many assets, not the least of which is Rutger Hauer as A.T. Hauer is like a slightly older version of Lou Diamond Phillips, which means that he's something of a grade B and C genre film king. You know that if Hauer or Phillips is in a film, there's a good chance that it's going to be at least a bit cheesy. For those of us who have a special place in our hearts for cheesy B and C genre films, we also tend to love Hauer and Phillips.
The rest of the cast is a treat, too. Charles is terrific at playing a lost nerd, Jack Black gets to do the schtick that made him famous, Roth is appropriately sly, sexy and a bit mischievous and Stuart Wilson as the villain should have most viewers hating him by the end of the film, which is what he's supposed to do.
And of course the underlying idea is an intriguing one. Visually, Rao does a fantastic job of creating an attractive sci-fi film dealing with multiple worlds on a relatively low budget. Many directors would be afraid even to attempt such a feat, as the budget did not allow for much in the way of special effects. Most locations are our mundane Earth, yet Rao is able to convey an epic adventure through multiple worlds with devices as simple as a red filter and locations as simple as a warehouse or black sound stage.
Crossworlds is definitely worth a view if you're a big fan of this genre. Just be prepared to cut the film some slack in terms of exposition, and keep a scorecard if you have to.
Honestly, most B-Movies are terrible. The sudden, sad trend among movie
fans to purposefully exalt crap films just for a laugh has become a
"lowering of the tone" for snobs such as my self. Is Troll 2
unintentionally hilarious? Yeah. Does that mean it's "Brilliant"? No,
it sucks and for many B-Movie fans, the line between satire and reality
has been blurred. Face it, the joke is over. The vast majority of the
B-films or Direct to DVDers are awful and unwatchable.
But every now and then, you find a B-movie that has enough heart and soul to transcend that. Every now and then you see a movie that has enough gumption to spit in the eye of their low budget and no big name. Crossworlds is one of those movies, it shows a panache you don't normally find on late night cable and plays the hand it's dealt.
The budget is so low you'd expect the sets to be made of duct tape, the plot is a bit out there, and the names of the characters are out right weird and yet...you find yourself realizing that if this had a bigger budget it would be a hit film. If this had some studio support, a slightly tighter story, and better SFX, it would be a modest box office coup.
The film is, dare I say it, rather fun and compared to Transformers or Avatar or some other over indulgent crap masquerading as a blockbuster.
In a just world, this film would've been a real movie instead of a cult classic but then again, it probably would've have been as good if had been made at a major studio.
For a cheapie, this one is actually more entertaining than most. I will admit that the hero whines too much towards the beginning, and the plot is often confusing, but this can be overlooked due to the fun finale. The fights weren't the best in the world, I know, but then, who cares? Sci-fi fans should give it a look.
A small, low budget (but not B-more like an HBO film) Rutger Hauer film.
better than I expected it to be, kind of feels like a pilot, since it's set
up for sequels but with a heavy introductory feel. Decent leading characters
with Rutger Hauer is his weary mentor role. A lot of fun and I will be
looking out for the sequel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You know, I've never written one of these before, but I felt compelled
to do so. I read the plethora of comments by other reviewers saying how
confusing the plot was and whatnot -- one even went so far as to ask
questions to which clear answers were provided in the film. I've come
to the conclusion that this is endemic of the users who typically post
reviews to these sorts of things. So, I'm going to include my review
here, if for no other reason, so that the record, at least on this one
film, can be set straight.
The plot is reasonably simple, however one felt that some compromising occurred on a corporate level within the writing staff/directorial staff of the movie. Someone started out with a really great idea which was subsequently "dumbed down" to make the movie less technical and more accessible to the average (perceived) viewer. In a nutshell, you have your prototypical/archetypal good vs evil construct. In this case it is multi-dimensional, though I must protest loudly over peoples' comparison with "The Matrix". This movie shares far more in common with "Time Bandits" and "Buckaroo Banzai" than it does with "The Matrix".
As one reviewer pointed out, conceptually it seemed as though this movie was intended as a pilot for a continuing television series. You have your Mentor role played admirably by Rutger Hauer (one of my favorite actors). You have your Hero and his potential love interest. You have the war of good vs evil waged across multiple dimensions. You have the Good Queen and the Evil King. Textbook examples of all the above. Where the plot seems to apparently confuse some people was with the rapid shifting between realities, and some minor inconsistencies in character portrayal and the aforementioned (my perception) compromises which were clearly made by the writing staff.
In the end, however, it's really very simple: You have a staff and a crystal. You put the two things together, and you have a key. You take the key and wack something real good with it and it opens a dimensional portal. You jump through the dimensional portal and voilà, new reality (or inter-reality travel, apparently). The reason Rutger Hauer's workshop wasn't there the first time the kid went back was because he hadn't passed behind the palm tree first -- that much, to me anyhow, was crystal clear. A good example of how this movie's mechanics are working would be to review the extensive gaming material (some available on the web) for a Pen & Paper RPG known as "Planescape". (Also a video game version was made called "Planescape: Torment".) A gateway can be anywhere, and the key can be nearly anything. Sometimes a door is really a door, and sometimes it's a wardrobe (thank you C.S. Lewis). Sometimes a key is the key, and sometimes it is hopping on one foot while holding a piece of rye grass between your teeth.
It would have been nice had this movie been actually developed into a series (or at least a miniseries) as it would have fleshed out a lot of what I feel was INTENDED but not carried through very well. As far as the movie goes, in and of itself, I would recommend it. It is a sweet little jaunt into fluffy science fiction starring the First Man of Scifi, Rutger Hauer. He, alone, makes the movie worthwhile in my opinion. Anyone who can sit through "Eating Pattern" (especially as I did the first time, not understanding the paradigm that is Lexx) would enjoy this as well.
Remember: Not all reviewers you might read on IMDb.com are anywhere near qualified to judge a movie, and I suspect quite a few are incapable of dressing themselves without assistance. :) I hope that anyone who takes the time to read my review will give the movie a chance. It's worth it.
As a fan of low budget sci-fi (especially Rutger Hauer movies) I have
to admit to being biased towards this before I'd even seen it. But, not
only did it live up to expectations, it far surpassed them. This is a
slick, well directed and acted and fairly intelligent entry into the
'alternate dimension' genre.
It's fast paced and the gorgeous Andrea Roth certainly adds to the enjoyment factor. Rutger Hauer is his usual sardonic self, always great value. Josh Charles is excellent in what I think is the best film of his career!! OK, so the budget is low, but the makers have done wonders with what they had to work with and it looks like a much more expensive movie - the cinematography is fantastic and gives the whole movie a lovely 'gloss' look. There is lots of humor, an excellent villain and some very exciting actions scenes - what more could you want? A lot of people compare this to the Matrix, which I feel is unfair. The Matrix is (great fun, but) very overblown and pretentious, whilst this movie plumps solely for entertaining. Some of the themes are the same, but the similarities end there. I'd go for Crossworlds any day!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is certainly a very rare breed of film. The story is very
intriguing and has a certain level of mystery and bewilderment to it.
If you enjoy seeing movies about different dimensions and different
worlds, this is the film to watch.
The cast couldn't have been better selected. There isn't much I can say without giving the film away completely, but I will say that script paired with a competent cast and crew make it enjoyable to watch.
This film is not loaded with violence or intense CGI graphics. The dialog seems nearly perfect at all instances and the characters are easy to relate to. I would have liked to see more of a relationship developed between Josh Charles and the sweet blond honey.
Another regret is that the film makers never left the door open for a sequel, even though this film would be worthy of having one. Go rent it - it will leave you feeling like a million bucks!
I was very, very anxious to see CrossWorlds. I'm a huge fan of Josh
a huge sci-fi fan and I had seen the trailer from this site, which
absolutely blew me away. After looking at my local mall, video store, and
two more video stores I finally found a copy. I rushed home and put it in
VCR that night.
"CrossWorlds" is a good movie. I wouldn't compare it to "Glory" or other Josh Charles classics like "Sports Night" but it's one of those movies that you can come away from feeling like you made a good choice. It's a movie you'll want to watch again, the kind of movie you'd buy just to pull out once in a while. In particular, the acting performances and the abstract way of looking at things made this movie.
The plot was a little diffuse - the first time I watched it, I got to about halfway through and then lost my mind. I had to watch a second time to understand it. Josh Charles makes a surprisingly good action hero with his skill and sarcasm; Rutger Hauer makes a fine mentor. Andrea Roth and Stuart Wilson could have been better, the ending could have been better too (way obvious). CrossWorlds leaves a lot of things up to the viewer which is great. It packs cool action and fun. If you want a movie you can enjoy without having to be thrown a moral or emotional appeal, this is it.
Just be sure to skip the tedious, unexplained, worthless sequence of the opening credits.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yet another indistinguishable sci-fi thriller from the reliable Rutger
Hauer, who once again is the best thing in this film which substitutes
oodles of action in place of a real script. This is a shame, because
the film's plot is quite an interesting and original one, and they just
don't make enough films about alternate realities these days.
CROSSWORLDS comes off as an empty, wasted opportunity which could have
been like THE MATRIX: an intelligent, science fiction thriller with
great action, but instead turns out to be another forgettable B-movie
with nothing much to distinguish it from many others.
The cast is probably a big problem in this film; the majority of them are hopeless. Rutger Hauer once again finds himself typecast as an ageing mentor-type bloke who acts as the film's indestructible hero; opposing him is the British villain Stuart Wilson whose ham just doesn't cut it. Josh Charles (a young, untalented Ted Raimi lookalike) acts as the film's audience, finding himself caught up in the unexplained events; his dim-witted, moaning character soon becomes grating, which is a shame because he dominates every scene. If Charles had been a little bit more heroic instead of acting like an idiot all the time, this film might have been easier to bear.
Don't get me started on Andrea Roth's performance of the female lead, either; she's just been put there for the purpose of "eye-candy" and is pretty hopeless. Also appearing is a dwarf sidekick who disintegrates in one of the film's more impressive special effects scenes, while modern cinema goers might get a kick from seeing a pre-fame Jack Black before he went on to bigger (although not necessarily better) things.
The script gives our lead characters ample room for situation comedy, which soon becomes boring. It also centres heavily around action and has only a few major plot points to string along. Many things that happen are left unexplained and are confusing. This film's action is also below-average; endless scenes of suited men running around with Uzis are silly in the extreme and make a mockery of the whole film. Also, due to the PG-13 rating in America, there aren't even any on screen deaths or violence to speak of, only of the bizarre computer-generated variety.
Which leads me to the special effects, which are as cheap and cheerful as you might expect. Some of them appear to have been stolen from the television series SLIDERS. None of them convince for an instant, as they just look like they've been drawn up on a computer, and they're pretty nondescript too; pretty rings appear on screen, people vanish and appear, and only one scene stands out as impressive: two characters falling from a roof turn into "pixels" about halfway down, which then tinkle down onto the pavement. The one impressive action scene, at the very end, when our hero battles the chief villain across a variety of locations, has also been ripped off from SHOCKER. In all, while CROSSWORLDS isn't the worst film ever made, I for one would certainly give it a miss.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first time I saw this movie it was on late night TV a few years
ago. I've heard it was a low budget made for SyFy movie originally . .
. if so, this was one of their few successes.
Basically, it's a story about a college student who is dragged out of his normal life because of his dead father, an Indiana Jones clone you see briefly. Joe becomes entangled in the search for the pieces of an ancient staff and he finds that the pendant he wears has powers that can cross worlds.
Rutger Hauer and Josh Charles (both favorites of mine) put in solid performances. Jack Black plays well in a pre-fame role as drunken buddy, and Andrea Roth as the eye-candy is decent enough. I love the use of older vehicles in the film . . . they used some real relics.
Three things really make this movie work for me: 1) Stuart Wilson, a veteran actor, shines as Ferris; 2) The soundtrack is one of the first of Christophe Beck, a Canadian composer who has composed the music for A list movies over the last ten or fifteen years; and 3) the visual effects are very good, and they allow you to immerse yourselves in the story.
I hope this helps anyone looking for a good fantasy/sci-fi film.
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