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Homicide detective Sean Nault, a cop on a parallel Earth whose technology is powered exclusively by magic. Sean investigates a baffling series of murders committed by a means he's never seen before: science. With the aid of Lenoir, a member of the ridiculed subculture of "pragmatists" who believe science is more than the stuff of myths & children's stories, and the 130-year-old sorcerer Winston Churchill, Sean uncovers an ominous plot that will lead him to another dimension and the realization that, unless he prevents it, both earths could well be destroyed. Written by
They should have conjured up a better script and production...
It sounded interesting. An Earth in an alternate dimension where an understanding of science doesn't really exist and where magic powers everything (guns, phones, cars... everything). A world where a puzzled detective starts using science to try and unravel a sinister mystery...
It's an interesting premise for a film. It was also an interesting premise for a film back in 1991 when HBO made the much-loved but little seen Cast a Deadly Spell. If you can track down a copy it's well worth a watch.
Unfortunately this (apparently adapted from a comic-book), is a complete mess.
If you're taking the audience to another world, a world that works in different and exciting ways, then the script needs to explain this new place and take the time to make it feel real. Instead the story here rocks along at breakneck speed with very little time or effort being spent on trying to seduce the audience and pull them along with it. Some of the dialogue is awful (and the voice-over at the end is especially bad).
Apparently this was originally intended for a cinematic release. However the decision to make it for TV must have been made before production began, as it looks every bit like a TV movie. The director has worked on the TV show Sanctury and it absolutely shows; the feel of it - the way it's been shot and the way CGI backgrounds are used - is absolutely identical. The difference is that here it falls absolutely flat.
Clearly much of the film is supposed to look and feel like a 50's noir (the costumes and sets), but no effort has been made to shoot and light it in any particular style (unless they were actually trying to make it look like cheap Canadian television). Occasionally the action stops and the scene turns into a drawn panel from a comic-book in a way that is supposed to be highly stylised and dynamic, but isn't. Here, in this film, it serves no purpose, looks wrong, happens far too often and ruins atmosphere. And then you have the use of CGI backgrounds, which are in a completely different style to anything else in the film and really jar. Sin City this isn't.
I would criticise the editing - there are some really strange choices that just don't work - but I honestly don't know if it's the editors fault. It feels like they only shot enough footage to properly fill 80 minutes or so and then they had to find ways of padding the running time out. So we get comic-book effects. So we get clunky, amateurish and unnecessary scenes (there's one scene of Sorbo thinking about Song, using flashbacks, which is just horrible), that suddenly crash in without warning and then crash out again. Also, some scenes just don't hang together properly and it sometimes feels as if a vital shot is missing.
The only good and worthwhile parts of this whole thing are the two leads, Kevin Sorbo and Steph Song. Watching Sorbo in something really second-rate made me realise how dependably good he is; there's nothing here that particularly stretches his talents but he still manages to get the job done despite having little to work with. Steph Song also takes an under-written role and manages to imbue it with some genuine heart and feeling. I ended up liking her character a lot and it was purely because of her performance. I predict that we'll see her in bigger and better things in the future.
In summary? The script fires the plot at you too fast, it looks and feels all wrong and the editor probably tried his best to rescue it but failed. And the actors deserved better.
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