Combustible Celluloid
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With: Munro Chambers, Sandra Mae Frank, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Robert Naylor, Marlee Matlin
Written by: Doug Taylor, based on a story by Michael MacKenzie, Doug Taylor
Directed by: Gaurav Seth
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some violence
Running Time: 91
Date: 11/12/2021

Multiverse (2021)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Double Gummed

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Quickly jettisoning its cosmic setup for a YA-style romance/murder/tragedy with high soap-opera emoting, this sci-fi dud hangs everything on its thin characters and even thinner storytelling.

University student Loretta (Paloma Kwiatkowski) is working on a way to communicate between alternate realities, and to perhaps find an exact duplicate of her own reality. Her best friends Amy (Sandra Mae Frank) and Gerry (Munro Chambers), and boyfriend Danny (Robert Naylor), help. After discovering that water enhances the signal, the foursome race to the nearest lake to continue the experiment, but wind up in a car crash that kills Loretta.

Five months later, the remaining friends have begun to adjust, but suddenly, Loretta appears again as if nothing had ever happened. Before long, other strange things begin occurring, such as a mysterious intruder in Gerry's house, and a phone call from the deaf Amy, who can suddenly hear. Can the friends solve this multiverse mystery?

Multiverse, which was originally titled Entangled, continually drops logic in favor of cornball pathos. The biggest issue when Loretta first returns is not so much how or why, or what she's going to do next, but the fact that (gasp!) Danny has begun dating Amy in the interim. The second Gerry arrives like a full-fledged murderous psychopath, with steely eyes and a line delivery like a third-rate Hannibal Lecter. (How was he friends with anyone back in his own world?) Not to mention that Danny and Gerry look an awful lot alike, and, when their doubles arrive, it's easy to get confused.

The movie gets points for casting real-life deaf actor Sandra Mae Frank as Amy, and for her other-dimensional hearing counterpart, the filmmakers dubbed her voice with another actor. But the encounter between the two Amys is ridiculous, and comes to nothing. The casting of Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin as Amy's mother also comes to nothing; she gets to do nothing but reminisce over her dead husband and notice that the second Amy doesn't seem quite right.

The only "visual" touch is the tattoos (reading "entangled") that the new versions of the characters all have, to handily distinguish themselves from the originals. If Multiverse had been able to handle its soapy drama with any kind of maturity or potency, then it might have been fine for it to abandon all logic. But as is, it's one to avoid.

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