Every once in a while a film comes along with undeniably creative and captivating ideas, but in the end just can’t sustain its intended originality. The themes in the inspiring sci-fi flick "Paradox Alice" catch attention for sure covering everything from the survival of Earth to spontaneous gender mutation and its biblical purposes – a thinking man’s outer space tale. But the fascinating and grandiose premises presented in the film are unfortunately trapped and contained inside a pretty small vision that ultimately doesn’t know what it wants to be – it’s a spellbinding story that sadly sinks.
A group of astronauts are sent from Earth to Jupiter’s orbiting moon Europa to retrieve water on what is considered a suicide mission. Seems the folks on Earth have been fighting over natural resources and as a last resort a three man and one woman team are sent up to get more. After accomplishing their mission and heading home they realize it’s too late – the feuding powers on Earth have destroyed the planet. Now left with only three male crew members one suddenly changes sex – then the fun begins.
What’s funny about the above description is how much plot and story needs to be revealed to get to the gender changing core. Not that there aren’t some brilliant bits along the way; the dynamic of the crew, their emotional connections to family and friends back home and the overall fate of the world on their shoulders. But once the change happens the film is a whole new ballgame. And at first it’s a fascinating and odd tightrope act that plays like a riveting gender switch comedy without the laughs. Problem is filmmaker and co-writer Eric Dapkewicz seems as though he may have gotten uncomfortable in the him/her dynamic and the film then goes for a more traditional "Lord of the Flies" fight for final female affection, plus has a tacked on ending that feels very last minute. And it’s truly a shame as the work by a gender confused actress Jeneta St. Clair is so much more than a gimmick ride – it’s layered, rich and wholly nuanced. Her willingness to explore all raw facets of a person who has male and female thoughts, urges and fears could have taken both the film and the sci-fi genre into almost biblical territory without the heavy-handed drag of religious connotation.
"Paradox Alice" was one of the first times in sci-fi where material questioning existence, posing creation questions and ascertaining human’s role in the universe felt like it was simply part of a cool movie and not a God fearing lesson via a Kirk Cameron outing. It’s sad that the filmmakers here took a sharp right turn into familiar movie conventions to play things safe – unexplored territory is much more exciting to watch.
"PARADOX ALICE" IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE VIA CABLE VOD AND THROUGH MOST MAJOR ONLINE VIDEO SERVICES.
Title: "Paradox Alice"
Genre: Sci-Fi / Drama
Cast: Jeneta St. Clair, Andrew Hernon, Stewart W. Calhoun
Director: Eric Dapkewicz
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Company: The Orchard