DVD: Singularity Principle (2013)

October 8, 2015 | By


SingularityPrincipleFilm: Good

Transfer:  Very Good

Extras: n/a

Label:  Big Screen / CAV

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  July 14, 2015

Genre:  Science-Fiction

Synopsis: A scientists retells the series of events that led him to discovering a parallel world through which he has been drifting to and fro without control.

Special Features:  Trailer




Not dissimilar to the time-travelling sci-fi thriller Primer (2004), Singularity Principle (2013) has a handful of characters pushing theory into reality, in this case developing a working mechanism to unearth and cross over into a parallel world that wreaks havoc with more than the personal lives of cosmic scientists.

The sleeve notes on the DVD have the plot dead wrong: Dr. Peter Tanning (Michael Patrick Denis) doesn’t attempt to convince a shrink he’s broken through the barrier and travelled into a parallel world, nor has he been incarcerated in a mental lab’s psych ward; there is no shrink nor psych ward in the film.

Credited co-star Amy LoCicero may have been in a version of the film in which Tanning recalls past events leading up to a mental snap and his crumbling marriage to wife Lyndi (lower-billed actress Kallie Jean Sorensen) to a psychiatrist, but the final cut has William B. Davis (The X-Files) playing another eerie, quasi-government official who forcibly snatches Tanning, loosens some fetters, and conducts a solitary interrogation that extracts the recollections leading up to Tanning’s present day dilemma.

Regardless of the switches, the core story still involves a brilliant scientist who provides the missing information that helps the elder Brenner disappear into the parallel world where a former fling resides – the same world that Tanning starts to drift towards, increasingly snapping in and out of each universe until there’s a kind of intervention that posits him in a unique but not necessarily envious position.

Where Primer’s shifts in time were subtle, SP’s drifts involve whole adventures that are quite disparate from the more benign world where Tanning is initially rooted. In the flipped world, wife Lyndi pushes her marital dissatisfaction towards infidelity, and chunks of personal discussions and conflicts with an assistant may or may not have occurred in the more benign world.

As the funnel bridge that tethers the two worlds is stretched and strained, Tanning is pulled in either direction, getting a little fuzzy, but arguably no less stressed and strained than John Hurt’s character in Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980), travelling to the unconscious and pounding against walls to break free and return to some state of normalcy.

SP doesn’t have a studio budget, but a big pay-off lies in the use of what’s billed as “a $300 million lab in northern Canada” – an elaborate complex whose rooms and big science gear are used to maximum effect. The story’s location isn’t billed as Canada per se – there’s a mention of a lodge in Calgary, a Canadian flag is seen atop a university complex, and there’s a box of Grand & Toy stationary in Brenner’s office – but it’s a CanCon world with Davis being the best-known among the cast to genre fans.

It takes about a half hour before the film settles into a proper narrative groove – director-writers David Robert Deranian and Austin Robert Hines hurry through the early scenes with impatience, and Steve Urspringer’s synth score is almost wall-to-wall, unnecessarily filling scenes with late 80s orchestral emulations when his more threadbare cues would’ve worked fine in select scenes; the directors may have felt more music would’ve given the film momentum, but there’s a need for silence and natural sounds in the interrogation scenes between Cason and Tanning.

The film’s dialogue is a mix of fairly technical – there’s no attempt to dumb down science with clichéd discussions, but some animated montages sort of convey the concepts in basic graphic imagery – with Tanning and his wife’s scenes sometimes veering into mundane bickering.

Conceptually, SP is a fairly ambitious attempt to blend theoretical concepts and cerebral arguments with sci-fi conspiracy genre tropes, and it kind of works, with veteran character actor Diehl providing a stoic version of secretive Brenner, and Denis quite solid as an inquisitive protégé determined to prove his mentor’s theories of parallel worlds correct with hardcore evidence.

Pity the DVD’s bare bones, because the film needs some contextualizing, if not a little explanation for the sleeve summary to be way off.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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