'The Second Age of Aquarius': A Unique Blend of Sci-Fi, Comedy, and Rock-n-Roll
What happens when you take Weird Science, but you replace Kelly LeBrock with a Jim Morrison-esque rock star? You'd probably get something likeThe Second Age of Aquarius. But while Weird Science is a teen comedy, The Second Age of Aquarius is more of a two-hander, and focuses on the dynamic between its two leads. The film focuses on Alberta, a computer programmer who specializes in making celebrity avatars for a tech company. As the movie begins, we see that she is working on an avatar for Russell Aquarius, an influential musician of the 1960s who met his untimely death when he was electrocuted on stage. This is a special project for Alberta, as she is grieving the loss of her grandmother, who introduced her to his music. She leads a quiet life, but when Russell's avatar comes to life, hijinks ensue, and the film explores the Odd Couple-like dynamic between the two.
This film has bit of a quirky sense of humor, which is especially prominent in the dialogue. There are some funny one-liners, and a few decent gags that center on with Russell's culture shock with present day technology. The script, written by director Staci Layne Wilson and Darren Gordon Smith, makes good use of the film's premise, and has a distinct comedic voice. It's also quite clear that Wilson and Smith have a great appreciation for the music of the 60s, as it truly feels like a bit of a love letter to the music of that era. As I said earlier, the film is largely a two-hander between Alberta and Russell, and primarily takes place in one location. While this may sound limiting to some, the film uses these to its advantage, and benefits from the great chemistry between two leads. Christina Calph portrays Alberta's uptight nature in a way that feels authentic and isn't reliant on cliches. She also plays some of the subtler aspects of the character nicely, and feels dialed in to the type of movie this is. Also dialed in is Michael Ursu, who plays Russell Aquarius. He embodies the rockstar persona of his character without feeling stereotypical or over the top. Not to mention that he gets some of the funniest lines of the film. He feels a bit more grounded than one might expect, but make no mistake, he's still a freewheeling guy, and acts as a great foil to Alberta.
This film feels strangely personal, and I get the sense that it was a labor of love for both Wilson and Smith. The film is based of the short story Fandom/Phantom that they wrote for their anthology book Sex Death Rock N Roll, and it's clear that the story is very important to them. The script showcases this, as does Wilson's direction, which is simple, yet effective. It allows the emotional beats to hit just right, and puts the relationship between Alberta and Russell in the center, which gives the film a strong core. My only major criticisms are that the plot takes a bit to get going, and that we don't get as much time with some of the other vibrant characters we meet in the film. However, I can forgive these, as the scenes with Alberta and Russell are enjoyable, and still kept me intrigued.
In some ways, this film feels like the first part of a story, and I mean that in a good way. It's as if it's meant to set up future stories in the world of Russell Aquarius, and opens the door to some interesting possibilities. A sequence that appears as the credits roll seems to hint at this, as does some of the plot threads that the film leaves open. But even if this ends up being a stand-alone film, it's a fun, quirky comedy that has a bit of sweetness to it that truly surprised me. Is this the dawning of The Second Age of Aquarius? Only time will tell.
The Second Age of Aquarius will be available on VOD platforms on February 11th, and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes and AppleTV.
You can also visit the film's website for more information.