'Paradox' Comics to Film — Review

Currently being shopped at the AFM by American World Pictures, PARADOX is a fun little B-Film with a comic book/TV movie vibe.
It doesn’t feel exactly original, reminding me strongly of CAST A DEADLY SPELL (1991), and is perhaps too true to its comic book origins.
PARADOX is based on the three-part Arcana Studios graphic novel mini-series of the same name, written by Christos N. Gage. Gage has written for TV and for other comics, including Union Jack for Marvel and Deadshot for DC.
On an alternate version of Earth that has a technology powered by magic, police detective Sean Nault (Kevin Sorbo), is investigating  murders that seem impossible, as the murder weapon used wasn’t powered by magic, somehow embedding a lead pellet in various bodies—including his partner. This weapon is of course a handgun, a .44 magnum revolver that eventually winds up in Nault’s possession.

Steph Song and Kevin Sorbo
Steph Song and Kevin Sorbo in PARADOX

With the aid of Lenoir (Steph Song, THE THAW, SMALLVILLE) a “scientist” who prefers the term pragmatist, as science is both ridiculed and reviled, he hopes to hunt down the killer(s).
One of the problems I had with the film (which seems to be shot on HD video) is that their technology is very close to 21st century devices; often absolutely identical, down to current makes of cars— in a world in which we are told that iron and other metals are supposed to interfere strongly with magic.
Science fiction, and the best kinds of fantasy, pick a set of  fairly consistent rules for their fictitious worlds, and sticks closely to logical extrapolations of these premises. Audiences tend feel a little frustrated by obvious violations of the internal logic that’s been implicitly or explicitly set up, and unexpected “cheats” are usually disliked in both mysteries and SF.  Both kinds of story transgressions  can be found in PARADOX.
However, specific mentions of a few illustrative points would bring me further into spoiler territory that I care to venture, as the film is not yet in general release. Suffice it to say a character says that he/she can’t do something, and later uses that thing to get out of a situation—and no further explanation or mention is given to the subject. A simple line saying “I finally got that to work” would have covered this little annoyance. What we get is a “Huh?” moment and a smirk. Other quibbles, such as the cars, can be forgiven due to the lower budget nature of the production.
The look of PARADOX  is generally very standard TV show in style, which is understandable, as director Brenton Spencer has helmed episodes of ANDROMEDA, STARGATE ATLANTIS,  and SANCTUARY.
The Aranca Studios Graphic Novel
The Aranca Studios Graphic Novel — Dialog seems Verbatim

Perhaps trying to give the movie a different look and feel, Spencer (or the editorial staff) has used a great deal of still frames painted-over to look like comic book panels, including transition shots with text captions that ruin jokes before they’re sprung or contain information that characters will shortly repeat.  One scene seems not to have been filmed and is awkwardly represented by some comic book panels instead— if I am interpreting the sequence of events properly. (There are other odd shortcuts, repetitions and ommisions that suggest both editorial padding for length and a lack of footage.)
Occasionally, the screen is split into several comic book style live-action panels, though this is not used in any consistent manner. This entire comic book approach is,  in my opinion, a misfire. It’s not well handled, and gives the production an unwanted air of campiness.
FX vary highly in quality, some are quite good, others—particularly some simple green/blue screen composites, to my surprise—are rather unconvincing.
PARADOX is also being developed as a TV series, and I think that’s where the idea has the most potential. The idea is fairly interesting, the story serviceable, and the actors are likeable in their roles. With a little more time, money and attention to detail, I could easily see PARADOX filling a slot on SyFy’s schedule.
PARADOX (2010) Bron Studios, American World Pictures.
Starring Kevin Sorbo, Steph Song, Christopher Judge, Alan C. Peterson, Ailsen Down, and Jerry Wasserman.
Directed by Brenton Spencer, screenplay by Ruth Fletcher  and Christos N. Gage. Produced byAaron L. Gilbert and Deborah Gabler. Executive Producers  Nicolas Bonavia, Bernie Melason, Sean O’Reilly. Director of Photography Curtis Peterson, Edited by Nicole Ratcliffe,  Music by John Sereda and Paul Michael Thomas, Production Design by Michael Nemirsky, Motion Graphics and Design by Jeremy Unrau.

American World teams with Bron Studio for 3 SF Films

L.A.- based indie American World Pictures has teamed up with producer Aaron L. Gilbert (TRANSLYMANIA) and his Bron Studios to co-produce three science fiction films.

From their press release:
“JABBERWOCKY, now in pre-production, is the first of the three films that the duo will produce. The film tells the story of a young squire who must become a warrior to save his people and the woman he loves after a horrific beast is unleashed on the Kingdom. Bron’s Bernie Melanson and John Raymonds serve as Executive Producers.
Films to follow will include LEVIATHAN and PANDORA’S BOX. “We love the sci-fi genre and are excited about these high concept films and about growing our relationship with Mark and Dana at American World Pictures” said Gilbert.
AWP Founder Dana Dubovsky states “Our first project, JABBERWOCKY, has been fast tracked and will begin filming in Bulgaria in late October.”
President of AWP Mark L. Lester and Dana Dubovsky first joined forces with Bron when AWP picked up the sales rights to Gilbert’s film PARADOX.
PARADOX_SorboPARADOX, which has been invited to the 2010 International Science Fiction Film Festival in Korea, in late October was directed by Leo Award winner Brenton Spencer (STARGATE ATLANTIS, Syfy’s SANCTUARY), and features a host of sci-fi stars, led by Kevin Sorbo (Andromeda, Hercules); Steph Song (jPod, The Thaw); Christopher Judge (Stargate); Alan C. Peterson (Shooter, Narc, Beautiful Joe); Alisen Down (Battlestar Galactica); and Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary).
The film introduces homicide detective Sean Nault (Kevin Sorbo) a cop on a parallel Earth who is investigating a baffling series of murders committed by a means his Earth has never seen before: the power of science. Sean uncovers an apocalyptic plot that will lead him to another dimension ­and the realization that, unless he prevents it, both earths could well be destroyed. Bron is currently in development on the PARADOX television series.

Sounds like an ambitious slate, always interesting to see independent genre productions continuing in the era when much of it has been co-opted by mega-budget big studio fare.
PARADOX is based on the comic book from Arcana Studios.