(Some Spoilers Contained Below) Parallels is a sci-fi adventure film written and directed by Christopher Leone – starring Constance Wu, Mark Hapka, Jessica Rothe, and Eric Jungmann.
The story begins with the mysterious disappearance of Ronan (Hapka) and Beatrix (Rothe) Carver’s father. The day before their neighbour Harold (Jungmann) claimed to hear a loud argument between the Carver’s father and a group of irate individuals.
The group then finds instructions left by Mr. Carver for his son to meet him outside of an abandoned building downtown. This being their only lead, Ronan, Beatrix, and Harold follow it. They soon discover that the building is more than a dilapidated pile of concrete and is in fact capable of transporting them between an infinite possibility of dimensions.
The movie pretty much jumps straight into the intrigue after a brief moment of character introductions. It was great to start almost immediately with the most interesting part of the movie, but there was no meaningful build-up of the characters for us to care about their experiences. Without any understanding of the characters we can’t feel for them when they confide about something, suffer, or feel scared. So when characters are deep in supposedly emotional interactions we don’t feel the way we should.
The writing overall wasn’t great. It had weak meaningless dialogue and made some questionable choices in regards to story structure, characters, and just about everything else. First of all characters are often suspicious of things that are not suspicious. For instance, when the group is inside the mysterious building an alarm goes off and for a good thirty seconds they are panicked and terrified despite the fact that they are on the first floor and a few feet away from the exit. This is where you know the writing is lazy, because had they tried the door first and found it to be locked the panic could then be justified, but instead they panic first and then try the door despite not having any reason to feel they are in danger. It’s odd that they are being freaked out by nonsense from their perspective and any one will see this as forced tension and fear that we as an audience cannot relate.
There were more than a few clumsy and awkward moments in the film. There were reveals that were built up with tense music and slow zoom-ins on characters that created false tension as it lead to “revealing” something that was already deduced five minutes ago.
Not only that but many of the characters know things that they shouldn’t or couldn’t have known –and it happens at crucial times clearly as a means to continue to tell the story the writers wanted when they had written themselves into a corner.
There are other moments where characters just don’t act like normal people. For instance, once the group is first transported to a new dimension, Harold immediately has this weird, convenient epiphany that they must be in a parallel dimension and nobody really questions it. In fact the first person they see says that Harold’s theory is true without providing any evidence to support it or a convincing argument and they immediately believe her.
Although I could pick apart every detail of this lazily written film, it was not only the writing that was to blame as the performances were also quite poor, feeling empty and mostly forced. Sure, the writing is supposed to help with the set-up of emotional moments, but the actor is ultimately going to be the one conveying the character’s experience. There wasn’t a single moment that showed me that any of these actors cared about what they were trying to do.
When I saw the poster for Parallels I thought that it might have some interesting ideas and at the very least take me on an intriguing journey. It probably had a great elevator pitch but unfortunately none of the expectations were met in this brief movie.
The concept was interesting but it wasn’t fleshed out enough and left me asking more questions than I started with. This doesn’t work in a standalone film like Parallels because they are not philosophical questions they are basic plot inquiries. Of course if you made it any length through the movie you should have known that the ending wasn’t going to be any better. There wasn’t even much of a coherent story to begin with and there was certainly no closure as it faded to black.
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