Josh Pearce and Arley Sorg discuss the parallel – Locus Online
Four friends living together and working on an app development discover a hidden room in their home and, inside, a magical mirror that can carry them to different, but almost indistinguishable, parallel universes. Eager to capitalize on the multiverse’s nearly limitless resources, Leena (Georgia King), Noel (Martin Wallström), Devin (Aml Ameen), and Josh (Mark O’Brien) soon devise a number of get-rich-quick schemes, mostly in the detriment of their own parallel self.
Their quests for money, power, lust, love and a second chance begin to reveal rifts in their friendship and morality, and when one of the party members dies, the others must decide how far they will go to get things back to normal.
Josh: It’s not a terrible movie. It was entertaining, if not a complete success. The rules were a bit arbitrary, especially at the very end.
Arley: It’s not a science fiction movie, it’s a fantasy movie. They tried to make it into science fiction, but the more they tried to explain things, the less sense it made.
Josh: Yeah, there were a lot of one-sided restrictions on world building that didn’t seem to serve the plot. The strange periscope, universes resetting each time they walked through the mirror and time dilation.
Arley: Time dilation was a problem. They could have called it magic.
Josh: This is one of the few times I wish they would have done magic with it. As The Magician’s Nephew, which is my favorite of the Narnia books. The characters entering and exiting the portals experience jet lag and the book makes no attempt to explain the mechanics, just focuses on an interesting story.
Parallelproduction values of are good (there’s a visual effect at the climax that’s almost worth the price of admission on its own), but the story suffers from a glut of separate story threads, almost none of which advances the actual plot or comes to a true resolution. contrary to LX 2048, it doesn’t make the movie feel overloaded with ideas, but rather hollow and empty as each concept only gets surface examination before moving on to the next “cool idea”.
For example, a character is unintentionally drawn into a parallel universe and develops paranoid symptoms stemming from the Berenstain Bears version of the Mandela effect. This setup could allow us to explore interesting questions such as “What is reality?” Or “Can I trust my memories?” Or “Is this madness or a conspiracy?” Instead, it’s used to push that character aside and keep him away from the action.
Josh: This scene where the two guys find a DVD of a movie that doesn’t exist in their world is straight out of the story of 2007 Hugo Award winner Tim Pratt, “Impossible Dreams”.
Arley: The characters were quoting Clarke and Heinlein, and I was like… you haven’t read anything new.
Josh: Using Clarke’s quote explicitly means that your audience is made up of novice sci-fi fans. Basically the same audience as Black mirror, I think.
Arley: Non-SF readers will be blown away by the concept and the quotes. Sci-Fi readers, however, Will not do. We’ve all seen stories of traveling through mirrors—
Josh: This movie is literally on the other side of the mirror.
Arley:… and parallel universes are everywhere. Star Trek, Rick and morty. You’re going to have to bring something new to the table if you’re going to play with such an overused concept.
Josh: The idea of searching the multiverse for deceased loved ones is also a common trope. Hell, even Into the spider worm did, and we called it the least innovative aspect of this movie.
Another way to approach the film is a character study, rather than an exploration of a sci-fi concept. It starts with a completely standard set of characters (including the black best friend and the token woman), and then changes things halfway. The cliché characters, often the most removed or quickly eliminated in other films, become the heroes of this one.
It’s hard to build sympathy for the four main characters. They start out as shameless capitalists of the “greed is good” variety and have no qualms about immediately exploiting a newly discovered land for their own enrichment. More worryingly, they have no problem exploiting their own duplicates, suggesting an unconscious level of self-loathing.
Arley: I thought this was going to explore whether the parallel versions are actually real, as Hugh Jackman does in Prestige, but it didn’t go too far.
Josh: I didn’t like any of those characters, although Devin had some character development as he went along. I thought his scene in prison was the best point of the film. It was emotionally deep.
Arley: The fact that they immediately found this device and then wanted to use it to make money was real.
Josh: It’s like the plot of every Rudy Rucker novel.
For the most part, there is a serious lack of soul-searching in each of the character choices. Those who to do expressing doubts still goes a long way with things, well beyond the point of moral guilt. Coming face to face should be one of the greatest existential horrors imaginable – because it involves a paradigm shift and also because meeting your doppelganger is traditionally a harbinger of your death – but they don’t spend time in wander this garden of forking paths, which a clever storyteller could use as a tool to develop an insightful character. The Tales of the Loop The episode “Parallels” shows that the way you treat yourself reveals who you are as a person.
Maybe the point that Parallel trying to do is “power corrupts”. Devin says things like “Failure is crucial, it’s the best way to learn” and “A man is his actions,” but those brief epiphanies and the few strong emotional moments don’t connect to make one. theme. Without a clear redemptive note, and in the face of literally endless bad decisions, it comes across as a nihilistic meditation at best on the uselessness of human effort.
The acting, however, is strong enough to sell each character’s role despite some distracting staging choices.
Josh: The directing was sometimes a bit amateurish? The whisk pans could not lock – it looked like the camera was held in the hand. Time lapse shots were good, however.
Arley: The Color Palette was an early 80s / 90s horror flick, but after that it moved on to Americana as American psychopath, and then after that, it came back to horror. Some of these shots reminded me Hellraiser, you just know they’re in this low budget set, this stripped down house.
From the synopsis and trailer, we’d expect something stripped down and intricately designed – a multiverse version of Primer, perhaps – with multiple versions of each character working in ever-changing alliances across odd settings to become gods. For these supposedly brilliant people, they certainly make the most basic decisions.
Arley: I almost blamed them for saying creative types were the variable across the multiverse. A) You have a very narrow definition of what a type of creation is. Architects, town planners, etc. make creative choices all the time. B) You underestimate the impact of creative types on the world if you think the only difference is that the Mona Lisa has a short haircut.
Josh: I found it hard to believe that was the only way to capitalize on the differences AND the dilation of time. They could have robbed a bank or several banks and escaped through the gate. They could have robbed the same bank again and again. But that’s too much thinking. Would you recommend it?
Arley: I’m not sorry I watched it. But if someone asked me, I would say, “Only if you’re bored and you’re not performing anymore.” You?
Josh: I would recommend Coherence. It’s that low budget movie with the dude from Buffy–
Arley: Are you talking about Alex?
Josh: Yeah, Nicholas Brendon. Coherence was a good parallel to this movie as a way to show how you can create a complex multiverse story, and it has almost the exact same “twisted” ending.
Realized by: Isaac ezban
Written by: Scott blaszak
With : King of Georgia, Martin wallstrom, Mark O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Kathleen quinlan, Alyssa diaz & Carmel Amit
ARLEY SORG, associate editor, grew up in England, Hawaii and Colorado. He studied Asian religions at Pitzer College. He lives in Oakland and generally writes in local cafes. Graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2014, he is preparing a novel, has launched some short stories in orbit and hopes to launch more.
JOSH PEARCE, deputy editor, started working at Place in 2016. He studied Creative Writing at SFSU and sold short stories and poems to various speculative fiction magazines. Born and raised in the Bay Area, he currently lives in the East Bay with his wife and sons and spends far too much time on Twitter: @fictionaljosh. Ken Jennings once signed his chest.
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