Writer-director Kal Ng’s first 35mm feature, “Dreamtrips,” recalls “La Jette, ” “Brainstorm,” “eXistenZ” and other head-rather-than-muscle-driven sci-fi efforts — albeit without their more bold or imaginative aspects. Widescreen production is visually handsome, but soon reveals itself as a routine relationship drama hiding behind fancy conceptual duds. Offbeat yet dullish effort might suit some New Director and fantasy-cinema fest slots.
Protag Jenny (Jennifer Chan) is a young Hong Kong-raised professional living in Toronto, where worries over disappeared fiance Charles (Wayne Kwok) have left her nights sleepless. Overhearing chat about the titular, secret virtual-reality program, she steals a chip and enters a dream state in which she can to an extent control the events and milieus. Unfortunately, her musings are pretty prosaic — mostly she wanders around empty cityscapes (in both Canada and H.K.) or beach dunes, weighing “He loves me, he loves me not” issues, with only very mild surrealistic fillips. A system malfunction strands Jenny in cyber-dreamspace until a lame epiphany breaks the spell. Locations are chosen with a good eye for ‘Scope impact, but lethargic, murky script drains perfs and pic of any involving urgency. Routine pop-instrumental score doesn’t help; tech aspects are smooth.