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)

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content