Movie Review: A Rough Draft (2018)

December 30, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Look, there’s a shit ton of alternate dimensions out there, and our dude Kiril Maksimov (Nikita Volkov) is in charge of customs to those travelling between universes, although truth be told he misses his life on Earth. It wouldn’t do him much good to go back though as the former shit-hot game designer has had all traces of his existence expunged from those that knew him, and if he ever did venture back he’d be in hot water as the powers that be that control his new position have made sure to frame him for murder on as well.

Among all the multiverses (that run the gamut from beachfront paradises to grim gulags), there is one where access is denied (due to revolutionaries looking to create a coup); Arkan, a place a few steps ahead of our own, and a potential learning tool to fix Earth’s various fuck-ups. Naturally Maksimov’s shadow bosses want “in” to Arkan, and soon task our hero with finding just that, which will doubtless be a piece of cake…

A Rough Draft presents a fun sci-fi tale with all manner of dimension hopping and other comic book style goings-on, but at it’s core the film stands as an overview of Russian history and just what the future may have in store for the land and it’s people.

Throughout the film we are shown a Steampunk rendition of Czarist Russia, along with a dystopian nightmare (courtesy of the aforementioned Gulag dimension)… not to mention those revolutions… and the chance that the future isn’t set in stone for the nation provides the viewer with some fantastic speculative fiction, but there are some rough patches along the way as well.

The main thing that makes a rock solid sci-fi piece is an understanding and adherence to the rules of the story being told. This makes any outlandish concept presented believable to the audience, and here is where A Rough Draft stumbles.

Based on a novel by Sergey Lukyanenko (who also created the flat-out awesome as all fuck Nightwatch series) the screenplay for this one seems to just make up new rules as it goes (especially in regards to main conceit of interdimensional travel), and that gets a bit daunting as the story progresses.

Additionally it seems as if some material vital to the narrative ended up on the cutting room floor as characters enter scenes without any explanation as to what they are doing there.

Does that make the film a dud? Not on your ass! There’s enough high concept material, groovy effects, and effective aesthetics to entertain aficionados of the ol’ science fiction bag, and if you dug what Lukyanenko has brought us in the past, you will doubtless enjoy A Rough Draft as well!



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