Year:  2023

Director:  Michael Duignan

Release:  7 and 9 June 2024

Worth: $15.50
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Benedict Wall, Florence Nobel, Jonny Brugh, Michelle Ang

Quirky and absurd in all the right ways …

You would think that becoming the victim of a hit and run that ends in a permanent, career-ending leg injury and a little bit of death would be the worst thing that could happen to a man, but when a silver Toyota Corolla comes out of nowhere and flips Dutch’s (Benedict Wall) life upside down, it’s only the beginning of his problems. Thanks to one reckless driver, he’s lost his job, his house, and his wife. But what he does have is a brand-new susceptibility to psionic power, a flyer offering psychic training to anyone willing to learn, and a thirst for revenge.

Writer/director Michael Duignan has earned his bread and butter directing episodes of Power Rangers (Dino Charge and Ninja Steel) between creating short films, and that is in no way intended as a slight. In fact, it’s his own personal spin on that same brand of logic defying pulp that makes The Paragon the gem it truly is. It’s wonderfully silly with a dash of 1980s cult kitsch, from the synth score to the delightfully dated effects.

The true genius is in the pairing of Benedict Wall’s everyman Dutch — a guy who loves tennis, a good spag bol, and has no patience for a five-step program that will turn him into Doctor Strange — and Florence Nobel’s Lyra, a robe wearing psychic who stepped directly out of high fantasy and ended up in a volleyball gym in Auckland. Enter Lyra’s evil brother Haxan (Jonny Brugh) and Dutch’s quest for vengeance gets a whole lot more convoluted than anyone bargained for.

It’s a genuinely funny descent into madness, pairing high concept sci-fi with the mundanity of suburban life, and the occasional self-aware nod to the narrative. Quirky and absurd in all the right ways, the plot revels in being nonsensical. An out-of-control joyride in the passenger seat of a silver Toyota Corolla that will take you through space, time, and the untapped power of the human mind.