Crossworlds (1996)


Before “The Matrix” there was this wonky surreal tale about existentialism, the meaning of existence and reality, and a suited mad man trying to infiltrate worlds through concepts concerning being, matter, and dimensional travel. By way of “Star Wars,” director Kristin Rao brings us a tasty goofy bit of direct to video goodness with Rutger Hauer as an uber-Obi Wan Kenobi who helps a young man find his way as a warrior and help him learn about his mysterious past involving his father. Hauer even waxes poetic and dons his own combat attire while venturing to save our reality from interdimensional beings looking to conquer various dimensions, including our own.

Director Rao is never afraid to get silly or absolutely surreal, opting for a fantasy adventure that is literally all over the place and revels in its absurdity. Josh Charles plays everyday Joe named Joseph who is getting over breaking up with his girlfriend. After getting shot down by Laura at a party, he awakens at home to learn that not only is Laura from another dimension, but he’s set to be a hero who has a mythical past, warrior dad, and a hanging necklace with a gem that can power a magic scepter. Rutger Hauer is mostly reduced to playing a supporting character in the film as A.T., a powerful ex-warrior who lost in the battle for his own dimension against an army led by a suit clad mane named Ferris.

Hauer looks like he’s having a good time waxing poetic and responding with snarky quips toward the evil doers, including Stuart Wilson’s Ferris, who now wants to conquer the Earth dimension. Rao has a good time relying on the sheer surrealistic premise of “Crossworlds” allowing the premise of the film to set down literally anywhere without the audience questioning her. “Crossworlds” works around its budget limitations, exploring ideas about dimensions and states of being. This gives the heroes a chance to do battle in the middle of a desert, a crowded office building, and a very important stand off takes place in the center of a car junkyard. It’s crafty method of working with what Rao has, and keeps “Crossworlds” constantly creative and absolutely bonkers.

There’s even a really fun moment where Joe gets a lesson in the idea of the state of being when while riding in an elevator, the four walls and floors literally shed away in to a large abyss of darkness. Despite being told to “Believe in the floors,” Joseph and sexy heroine Laura find themselves hanging at the tip of nothing, and have to find a way to believe in something they don’t see and convince themselves they’re not in the middle of an abyss. It’s an obviously low budget and goofy fantasy genre entry, but still filled with a lot of interesting ideas. I don’t love it like I did back in 1997, but it’s still a good time and would have worked so much more with a larger budget. As an added bonus there’s a pre-fame Jack Black who gobbles up the screen with a small supporting role and leaves his mark on the rest of the film despite playing zero importance in the overall narrative.