Time travel, parallel universes, found footage, low-budget, and long-winded - a potential recipe for disaster I was truly rooting for. "The Klatos Paradox" is the very definition of an ambitious project and truth be told, it held up way better than I thought it would; the recipe may not have been up to Gordon Ramsay's specifications, but was palatable none the less. The concepts and ideas of Mars Fargo's production are rarely realized within more traditional, heavily budgeted movies - so saying this film is watchable is high praise. What gets me, however, is that had some changes been made in post-production, I believe all the elements exist to have made something truly special here. More on that below.
Let me cut right to it, Fargo's film is much, much too long. When you consider the presentation is by way of found-footage, and then consider the confusing content itself, the near two-hour length feels more like four. It took me three sittings to get through it all - but I'll admit I'm somewhat biased. I'm not a fan of the found footage genre and can think of only three or four FF movies I actually really enjoyed. It was a great gimmick back in '99 and even worked for the first "Paranormal Activity" film but honestly? There's nothing really cinematic about the style. I'm not going to debate the FF issue as it's one of personal taste, but only wanted to be clear I'm not a fan. Now that that's out of the way, let me write that the plot of this film is hard to follow. For those who love the genre, think of a found-footage version of the indie favorite, "Primer" and you'll understand the confusing elements I'm writing about. Now multiply the WTF factor by ten because this film is found-footage.
The spoiler-free basics go a little like this. Our hero manages to solve the time-travel riddle, only, it's more like a parallel universe situation. One of the consequences of his discovery is that the normal rules of life, physics, don't apply to him. Basically, as he himself states, he's the equivalent of god. The film jumps around a lot, as expected, and becomes the embodiment of the grandfather paradox... sort of. As I wrote reader, it was kind of hard to follow. But his actions cause severe ramifications. As stated in the film, not enough to be considered consequential to the world/universe as a whole, but his personal losses rank pretty high. The truth is that if this style of filmmaking is your cup of tea, and you enjoy really complex plots, you'll probably enjoy this film. Does Mars Fargo put forth a "smart" concept ? Is "The Klatos Paradox" an intelligently written film? It is so.
Let's talk about things that made me a little uneasy? First, and before even watching the film, I'm always suspicious when people dub themselves as visionary. It's a little pompous and does impact how a viewer will proceed with a production. That single word upped my expectations exponentially - but that little annoyance aside, sometimes it felt like "The Klatos Paradox" was intentionally trying to drag itself out. The perfect example is the opening title graphic displaying the name of the film. "The Klatos Paradox" scrolled across my screen in huge white letters during the opening credits. That's fine and dandy, and I even liked the giant letters... what I didn't like was that it took around three minutes for the title to scroll. Really? Three minutes for words to cross the screen? No wonder this film is so long. My point is that this entire movie felt drawn out and stretched to the max. Had a lot of the "running" shots and dialog that essentially repeats itself been taken out... this movie would have been considerably shorter. And that's not even me talking about cutting unneeded scenes out.
There is also some questionable dialog through-out and even character actions that make no sense. When running his experiments, why would he need to go all the way to the end of his driveway? I also wasn't huge on the random sounds and flashes/images that popped up all through the film. Kind of like a jump-scare thing that never ends. But it's not all bad, I did like the complicated nature of the film. Like "Primer" did, this film never really dumbed itself down all that much. I also enjoyed certain sequences such as the old VHS style recordings... I really liked the proposal scene. But there's just so much confusion mixed with the visual style, as I said... hard to follow.
At the end of the day, fans of found footage movies will probably enjoy this; if they are also science fiction fans even more. For me, it was watchable, just not something I would go out of my way to see. There's no question writer, director, Mars Fargo is ambitious. There's no question of the talent and drive it takes to make a movie. This one just wasn't quite for me and probably anyone looking for a traditional film. Two stars.