A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Parallels is a television pilot that was not picked up as a series and has been released, via streaming, as stand-alone movie entertainment. The film is devoted to introducing a science-fiction universe, with the made-up "rules" that define it and the players that populate it. It's a promised (but, so far, not ordered) apocalyptic concept. The heroes, settings, goals, stories, and enemies move between various domains, none of which will be resolved in this 83-minute offering. Action sequences -- hand-to-hand fights, explosions, high-tech countdowns, capture and abuse, fatal gunplay -- and a smattering of profanities ("s--t," "hell," "goddamn," one use of "f--k") mean the movie is not appropriate for younger kids. Viewers will be kept on edge; it's dark and suspenseful. But, ultimately, those same viewers likely will be frustrated, even angry, when the "movie" ends in the midst of a major cliffhanger.
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What's the story?
Brother and sister Ronan (Mark Hapka) and Beatrix Carver (Jessica Rothe) are separately summoned to their childhood home in cryptic cell phone messages from their estranged dad. It's tense between the two when they converge on the house only to find their dad is gone. Almost immediately, circumstances (his car left behind, a strange object seemingly left behind for them to discover) lead Ronan and Beatrix, along with Harry, a curious young neighbor, to believe that their father is missing, perhaps not of his own accord. After a visit to local police where they get no help, they follow the only other clue they have: an unfamiliar address that was mentioned in their dad's eerie messages. At the designated location they find a derelict, abandoned building. Inside it's covered in strange graffiti, contains some peculiar objects, and has an unmistakable aura of grim mystery. Suddenly, the building begins to take on a life of its own, with shattering roars, lightning flashes, and terrible tremors. When it stops, the three heroes have been plunged into the film's PARALLELS, a world with an infinite number of planet Earths, all functioning in the same time frame but with a vast array of conditions, landscapes, technologies, populations, and political structures. Most crucially, along with surprising events, mysterious technology, and deadly fighting, the crew comes up against a bizarre collection of characters, who may be friend, enemy, or both.
Is it any good?
The creators try their best to clarify what it is a very complicated premise. Viewers will barely have time to digest one of Parallels' guidelines when another strange event occurs and requires more explaining. It all boils down to multiple currently existing versions of Earth out there in the universe. One Earth's Dystopia may run up against another Earth's Utopia. Beatrix Carver may be one person on one Earth but an entirely different person on another. Enemies and friends swap places in the blink of an eye -- or the shaking of a building. It might be worth the investment of time and energy to go along for this science-fiction ride and cautionary tale, but only if the story were to continue. As it is, it's simply not special enough, either in optical effects, stunts, characterizations, or other "wow" factors, to warrant a look in this format.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning of "apocalyptic" or "dystopian" movies or literature. In what ways can audiences learn important lessons from such tales? Give at least one example of a story from this genre that has a message for our society.
What is a television "pilot"? What is it meant to accomplish? Does this TV pilot work for you as a movie? Why, or why not?
Devise your own alternate version of planet Earth. How will it be different from our earth? Would you prefer to create an improved world or a worsened one? Which type would be more fun to create?
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