Michael Ninn imitates the style of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" for this sci-fi tale, but his prowess at sex scenes is overwhelmed by unnecessary pretentiousness in theme and rank incompetence in the NonSex department.
A brief BTS interview has Ninn extolling his own virtues, displaying an unfortunate streak of narcissism rivalling our current inhabitant of the White House. To hear him tell it, he's making mainstream-quality features in the XXX category, with unequalled sets, lighting, sound, music, etc., etc.
To refute this nonsense one only has to take a look at the dozens of classic features made at this time (late '90s/beginning of 21st Century) by Adam & Eve Productions and its Ultimate Pictures banner. Cameron Grant, Nick Orleans, Nicholas Steele and Bud Lee, among others, directed brilliantly atmostpheric movies that combined quality sex content with strong story/characters and above all dreamy mood, setting a high standard for Couples Romance not equaled since.
What Ninn presents is merely an unsuspenseful police procedural, with miscast Julian as a corrupt cop charged with a homicide case - the corpse being that of the mayor's son, played (in flashback) by obscuro Jack Garfield. (In the BTS interview Ninn tells tales on Garfield, noting the performer's premature ejaculation when shooting a scene with too-sexy redhead Vicca, perhaps accounting for Jack's not having achieved an Adult Cinema career.)
Case revolves around a hallucinogenic drug injected through metal disks at the user's temples, which creates a Virtual Reality type of sexual experience. Had Ninn, who wrote as well as directed, been more creative this might have been a very earlier forerunner of the actual VR revolution that is in the works today (and highly relevant regarding the future of porn), but his conception is uninteresting and presented merely as "stylish" XXX scenes.
The look of the film, especially in costumes and props (e.g., ancient rotary phones) evokes the 1940s and film noir, a gimmick approach to the future that Ridley Scott can take credit for via "Blade Runner". It makes for attractive styling for the actresses, including stars Nikita and as Julian's detective partner Juli Ashton, but is just arbitrary and pointless as executed here. While the decor and lighting is impressive in sex scenes, for simple exposition and plot stagings at the police station Ninn delivers grade-Z lighting worthy of an amateur indie movie, as the white-out windows blur the action.
Jamie Gillis appears in a dual role as an evil mastermind Reggie and his odd twin Randall. For his hammy efforts wearing a crummy wig, Jamie gets no screen credit at all.)
Reggie has created the hallucinogenic drug and is given to messianic rants that ruin whatever positive elements Ninn has created. Declaring himself "I'm a priest in the new digital order" (a sentiment Ninn echoes about himself, outdoing even Trump's braggadocio), Reggie peppers his remarks with facile anti-religious pronouncements, accusing folks of "fist-f*cking God" and declaring a new era A.D. (= After Digital). With all this blather about digital I had trouble with the movie's relentlessly retro trappings including those antique rotary phones.
"Dark Garden" refers to the Garden of Eden, as Reggie promises to start a new millennium leading users of his psychedelic into a Dark Garden of the future.
All Ninn succeeded in doing was to usher in a wave (since crested and washed out to sea) of artcore porn, with many imitators gussying up their sex content with flashy visuals and editing (see: Kendo in England) while the great Ninn himself cranked out hundreds of mindless exercises under his Ninn Worx label, culminating in such crap as the infamous "The Four", an imitation of "300" that is literally unwatchable. And just to contradict my porn history conclusions/comparisons, "The Four" was produced for Ninn by one Nicholas Steele, the same filmmaker whose Adam & Eve features a decade or so earlier were so wonderful! Go figure.
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