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Film / Crossworlds

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Crossworlds is a 1996 sci-fi film directed by Krishna Rao. The film stars Josh Charles, Rutger Hauer, Andrea Roth, Stuart Wilson, and Jack Black.

An Ordinary College Student named Joe Talbot is approached by an attractive blonde at a party, and he discovers that he has been pulled into an inter-dimensional war. An Evil Sorcerer named Ferris sends Mooks after him, and Joe finds out that a crystal pendant, left by his late father, is one of the two pieces of an ancient and powerful scepter that, if obtained by the Big Bad, would allow him to break down the barriers between The Multiverse and allow his army to take over the unified world, as they have done to his native dimension. The blonde, named Laura, and a middle-aged guy they meet named A.T. are (or, in A.T.'s case, were) members of La Résistance, who are trying to keep the crystal and the staff away from Ferris. With the fate of all the worlds at stake, it's up to Joe to find his inner courage and defeat Ferris.

The film provides examples of:

  • Beam-O-War: A variation. At one point, Ferris grabs a hollow metal handrail from a bus. After he and A.T. end up in the Portal Crossroad World, Ferris uses the tube to project a beam of energy at A.T., which the latter blocks with an energy shield of sorts that appears on his forearm. Ferris ends up winning.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Both A.T.'s place and Ferris's headquarters in our world appear to be much bigger than the outside of the building. This is lampshaded by Joe.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: When Joe first encounters Ferris, the latter pretends to be a museum curator, telling him about the history of the staff. He claims that the staff comes from The Time of Myths, when people believed in magic so much that they made it work. It's not clear if he's just bullshitting Joe or telling the truth.
  • Creepy Crows: Crows appear to be agents of Ferris. The Sequel Hook involves one cawing outside Joe's window, implying that Ferris's defeat is not the end.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The dimension-altering scepter the Big Bad needs consists of two pieces: a carved staff (located in a museum) and a crystal pendant (on Joe's neck). The pendant goes into a small groove on the side of the staff. The goal of La Résistance is to keep them separate. At the end of the film, they take the staff but leave the pendant with Joe, explaining that it's better to have the pieces in separate worlds.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": A variation. At first, Joe insists on being called "Joseph", possibly because he's going to business school. However, an indication that he has gotten past his Refusal of the Call stage is when he tells Laura, who obligingly calls him "Joseph", to call him "Joe".
  • Evil Brit: Ferris.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Ferris is a powerful warlord from another dimension, who has Reality Warper powers, as well as Hand Blast, Mind over Matter, and others.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: When Joe fights Ferris at the end, striking the villain with the scepter proves useless, but opening a portal to nowhere in the Big Bad's chest, which sucks the rest of Ferris inside bit by bit, gets the job done.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: When Ferris captures A.T., he asks him to show his skills. He puts the pendant on a coffee table, and A.T. tries to move it telekinetically, only for it to rise about an inch, wobble, and fall back down. However, when Ferris isn't looking, A.T. casually has the pendant fly up into his palm. This turns out to be a trick, as the pendant he grabs is fake. Ferris just wanted A.T. to lead him to the staff.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of the film, Joe decides to continue working for La Résistance, but the last scene shows him (and Laura) back in his apartment, implying that he's their agent in our world. A more straight example with A.T., who decides to come back into the fight, after being a Retired Badass for decades.
  • Intangibility: Joe tries to strike Ferris with the scepter several times, only for the staff to pass right through the Evil Sorcerer. In the end, instead of swiping at him, he thrusts with the staff into Ferris's gut and holds it there for a second, before pulling it out, which creates a black hole of sorts and sucks Ferris in.
  • La Résistance: A small group from Ferris's home dimension is dedicated to defeating him and the other warlords, who have taken over their world and imposed a dictatorship.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: A.T.'s place is accessed through a door to a motel room and looks like a huge, mostly empty warehouse. When Joe tries to visit it himself after being shown the place by Laura, he just finds an ordinary motel room. Then he remembers that she deliberately walked between two palm trees before opening the door. He does the same and finds A.T.'s place.
  • Love Interest: Laura. Naturally, they're together at the end of the film.
  • Merged Reality: This is Ferris's end goal. He wants all worlds to merge into one, which he can then take over and rule.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ferris's reaction when Joe masters the power of the scepter to transport them from the cave to the cross-world and sticks the scepter into Ferris's gut, creating a dimensional hole that sucks Ferris in bit-by-bit.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The conversation between A.T. and Ferris has this feel. Ferris believes himself that Utopia Justifies the Means and that imposing a "few simple rules" will result in order. A.T. argues that no one asked Ferris and the other warlords for their "simple rules" and that people should be allowed to make their own mistakes.
  • Portal Crossroad World: Traveling between worlds requires first going through this one. It looks like a desert with red rocks and canyons.
  • Reality Warper: Ferris's powers include this ability. To a lesser extent, A.T. as well. The scepter is the bazooka version of this. Ferris and his Mooks also use this power to maintain The Masquerade by restoring things (such as Joe's car, which has been riddled with bullets) to their previous state.
  • Rebel Leader: Joe meets the queen of La Résistance at the end of the film. There are hints that there used to be some history between her and A.T., as she calls him by his first name Alex.
  • Refusal of the Call: In the first part of the film, Joe has no wish to get involved in some weird adventure and just wants to get back home to his studies. He changes his mind later and, at the end, even likes the idea of working for La Résistance.
  • Retired Badass: A.T. Apparently, he used to be pretty good and has powers of his own. Even Ferris admires him. It's never explained why he left the fight and settled down in our world. At the end, he returns to La Résistance.
  • Secret Legacy: Joe finds out that his father was a member of La Résistance until Ferris killed him. Joe's mother knew the truth but kept it from him until she knew he was ready to hear it.
  • Sequel Hook: The Big Bad may be defeated, but we see a raven just before the credits roll, indicating that the other warlords are still around.
  • This Loser Is You: Joe is clearly the audience identification character and, well, as his mother puts it: "You never showed me you were ready. Sometimes I thought you never would be." Harsh. He does get a smidge of growth before the end of the movie.
  • Unexplained Recovery: A.T. blows himself and Rebo up to give Joe and Laura a chance to escape. Just before that, he blows into a high-pitched whistle. When Ferris confronts the heroes in the cross-world, there is a whistling sound, and A.T. and Rebo appear from an explosion. Joe nonchalantly greets him.
  • You Have Failed Me: After Rebo fails to kill A.T. or obtain the staff, Ferris fires him and then does a flesh version of All Cloth Unravels.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Some of Ferris's tricks only work if the person believes it's real, such as when he makes the walls and the floor of an elevator drop into nothingness. A.T. manages to remain standing by focusing on the elevator, but Joe and Laura look down and almost fall to their deaths.