Portal Man

Uncontrolled travel from one dimension to another is the fate of Portal Man, the name of the lead character in the film of the same title. Portal Man (Charles Davis) is stuck in a kind of interdimensional continuum and hurtling into strange and not so wonderful worlds. He’s unsure of why it’s happening to him or even who he is. Making matters worse, an assassin lies in wait each time he lands in a new landscape.

The spaces he inhabits are sometimes realistic looking New York City and other times they’re more like a psychedelic light show. In one, he finds themselves atop a train that’s speeding through a hellish red landscape of molten lava. He’s got to kill the assassin, a man wearing sunglasses to cover his glowing eyes. Once Portal Man dispatches his would-be killer, he’s catapulted into the next level of who knows what? It’s like he’s taking part in a three-dimensional video game, which is what much of the film feels like,

“…stuck in a kind of interdimensional continuum and hurtling into strange and not so wonderful worlds.”

Along the way, he meets a feisty New York attorney, Bearthra (Jennifer Eiffert), pronounced like “Bea Arthur,” who gets sucked into the dimensional time warp with him. Together, they try to find their way out of this trippy nightmare. Beathra adds some welcome peppery humor to the mix, kvetching that her $600 Jack Lord sneakers were ruined by splashed mud. At another point, as the duo enters a new, fantastical dimension, she cries out in frustration, “I’m in goddam Patrick Nagle Leggo blimp land,” a mouthful if there ever was one.

As they bounce from one death-defying stunt to the next, the voice of a woman with a brogue guides and darkly intimidates them. It may make you think of the voice of the DJ in The Warriors, who similarly narrates that tale of a New York street grand fighting its way across the city and back to Coney Island, its home turf. That was the 1970s, and the guiding voice came from radios tuned to a particular FM station. Since then technology has advanced. In Portal Man, the voice comes from a wrist device that the hapless dimensional traveler wears. It turns out that the woman behind the lilting voice plays a crucial role in the fate of the two lead characters.

“…isn’t the kind of movie that’s going to make anyone gasp over an imaginary world…but that’s part of the fun.”

The special effects used to create the surrealistic landscapes are, to say the least primitive. This isn’t the kind of movie that’s going to make anyone gasp over an imaginary world that’s been created for the screen in sumptuous detail. But that’s part of the fun. The story moves along quickly enough to make us not care that the graphics are about as convincing as the 1988 video game Galaxy Force 2. The cheesiness only adds to the overall humor of it all, as does the deliberately (I’m guessing) banal dialogue that feels like a send-up of low budget science fiction films. How else can you expect to be taken seriously, without a nod and a knowing wink to the genre?

Portal Man (2018) Directed by Charles Davis. Written by Charles Davis. Starring Charles Davis, Jennifer Eiffert.

7 out of 10 Plastic Ray Guns

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