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The Thousand Wonders of the Universe

This dreary and unconvincing erotic sci-fi drama, despite a name Euro cast, is sunk by a confusing plotline. Mostly cheap-looking special effects won't be enough to send this into box office orbit. Some time in the future, humanity awaits with trepidation an alien invasion. Professor Larsen (Tcheky Karyo), who runs the Int'l Center for Astro Monitoring, has intercepted a coded message from outer space that he believes means danger for humanity. When 12,000 people vanish into thin air in the red-light district known as Sepulveda, the authorities give Larsen 24 hours to solve the mystery. He enters the depleted zone in the company of Eva (July Delpy), a security officer who is also the daughter of Purpur (Feodor Atkine) a half-man, half-woman, and a powerful force in the government. Also along for the ride are Oscar (Chick Ortega), Larsen's lab assistant, and Stavro (James Hyndman), a bodyguard.

Professor Larsen ..... Tcheky Karyo Eva Purpur ..... Julie Delpy Purpur ..... Feodor Atkine President Blandine Brucker ..... Maria De Medeiros Oscar ..... Chick Ortega Stavro ..... James Hyndman Marshal Vega ..... Gabriel Gascon Schulz ..... Guy Nadon Lily ..... Pascale Buissieres (English dialogue)

No corpses can be located, but there are some nasty creatures around, including a hedgehog-type machine that fires a metal dart into Larsen’s eye. A series of supernatural events unnerve Larsen and his team. Also involved on the fringes of the drama is Maria De Medeiros, who rather incongruously plays the country’s demure president.

Shot in Montreal, pic has a rather cheesy look, though there are a few good effects, notably a sex scene between Karyo and Delpy in which the lovers float naked in the air and Karyo finds himself duplicated in a kind of out-of-body experience. But the turgid plotting and lack of suspense and action soon doom this curious effort, which seems not to know whether to take itself seriously and which sometimes comes across as a latter-day “Barbarella,” without the cult trappings.

This is not in any way an actors’ film, but Atkine at least seems to be having fun in his twin roles as the female governor of Sepulveda and the male director of an organization that specializes in the transplantation of artificial organs.

Production values are fairly modest, and there’s a disquieting obsession with the gruesome elements of the plot. First-time feature director Jean-Michel Roux makes rather heavy weather of it all.

The Thousand Wonders of the Universe


Production: A UGC release of a La Compagnie des Images, Lumiere, Les Prods. Millestar (Paris)/Transfilm-EGM (Montreal) co-production, in association with France 3 Cinema. (International sales: UGC, Paris.) Produced by Francois Fries, Claude Leger. Executive producers, Jean-Martial Lefranc, Nardo Castillo. Directed by Jean-Michel Roux. Screenplay, Regine Abadia, Alexis Galmot, Roux.

Crew: Camera (Astral color), Michel Amathieu; editor, Jean Beaudoin; music, Mick Morris, Scorn, Treponem Pal, Shostakovich; production design, Mary Lynn Deachman; art direction, Andre Chamberland; costumes, Marga Binoux; sound, Pierre Choukroun; associate producer, Eric Altmayer; assistant director, Louis-Philippe Rochon; casting, Emmanuelle B. Champagne. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 12, 1997. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: Professor Larsen ..... Tcheky Karyo Eva Purpur ..... Julie Delpy Purpur ..... Feodor Atkine President Blandine Brucker ..... Maria De Medeiros Oscar ..... Chick Ortega Stavro ..... James Hyndman Marshal Vega ..... Gabriel Gascon Schulz ..... Guy Nadon Lily ..... Pascale Buissieres (English dialogue)

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