16th Aug2019

‘Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime’ Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Jonathan Baker, Jeff Kenny, Lexie Lowell | Written and Directed by Jonathan Baker


A Back to the Future inspired sci-fi roadtrip stuck in Groundhog Day… Our film starts with Star Wars style text in space that is almost as confusing as that found in The Phantom Menace. It explains that physicists are searching for the “God Particle” that will solve the “theory of everything”. I don’t know about you, but when I see a film start like this, my heart sinks.

Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime then lets us know that the heady mix of Trump plus Putin in power has led to the polar ice caps melting and the earth being done for. Luckily for our protagonist he’s a science student who has been singled out to join other exceptional individuals to be saved via rocket. He wakes up at his frat house, hungover with limited memory and a naked lady next to him. A phone call notifies him that Armageddon is scheduled for today!

The next thing we know we are taking a sex doll and a surfboard to escape the end of the world. Which is quite promising.

It is a simple story and the last thing a simple story needs are a ridiculously confusing, mind bending layer of science fiction nonsense sitting on top of it. The film would have lost nothing had the reason for the end of the world been “meteor”. The cast consists of an eccentric, weirdo nerd in comic boxers and bunny slippers plus (relatively) well-adjusted, non-science lady being stalked by a Matrix slash Terminator style agent with dimension jumping superpowers… plus the awesome and underestimated power of reading. Yeah.

I really like the music for the film, it is bombastic, 80s orchestral stuff (and a big nod to Back to the Future), but it doesn’t always match the mundane action on screen. Having said that I don’t enjoy all the music… there is a parody cover of Madonna’s “like a virgin” that reads “I am NOT a virgin, with my pants down”. Wow! Take that 1984! Ronald Regan must be spinning in his urn! Sadly, it takes us forever to leave the frat house car park and once we do, we must come back again in order to pay another homage to Back to the Future, yes we noticed you like Back to the Future but please keep the plot of your film moving into the future. Our set up is, road trip, chased by terminator style agent to escape the end of the world but it takes us far too long to get there. Once we get going, we are into map, montage mode.

With a film like Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime  I find being “wacky” is often a way of compensating for weak film making but here I feel like it holds the performers back. The film doesn’t need the long, nonsense explanations of interdimensional science. It is the quiet moments when our two leads can have non science related dialog that the film is at its most enjoyable. Acting here is, perhaps deliberately hammy but otherwise solid (and at its best when we get away from the “zany”). Our stars, Lexie Lowell and Jeff Kenny worked together previously on the short Harper Finch (which I have not seen) and they do have some chemistry on screen.

As a negative to the film making it does make the most, however, of used condom jokes and Lexie Lowell’s body. Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime then again goes for the cheap laugh in almost making “love” an important plot point but instead settles on bowel movements. Does the film maker not have the strength of their conviction to not cheapen everything with a feeble laugh? If they don’t believe in their film, why should we? The value of the film is the two stars and their chemistry, not used condom jokes or physics nonsense and I don’t think the film maker understands that. we also don’t really have an ending (and that is important) it more akin to Poochie having to go back to his own planet (except not even that satisfying).

Our protagonist tells us that “Time is an illusion” which is lucky because I felt I wasted an hour and a half watching Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime.


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