Mr. Landry and the six kids find themselves stranded in the desert.
A World Away is a film that features several stories within each other. The film opens with two spaceships from advanced civilizations flying through outer space near Earth several millennia ago. The good guys are led by Captain Arture (Sal Landi) along with his daughter and a pilot. Their mission is to prevent the other team, led by an unnamed evil queen (Alexa Khan) who is closely pursuing them, from getting control of The Source, a powerful amulet which is the energy source for their ship and key to their civilization. Unable to escape the evil queen, Captain Arture decides to jettison The Source onto Earth, where it will end up in the custody of humans until they somehow get it back at a time only known to itself. Later the ship crashes into a desert. The film then goes into an extended animation sequence interjected with opening credits showing the progression of The Source through different civilizations — Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, China in the Ming Dynasty, India in the Mughal Dynasty, the Renaissance with Leonardo da Vinci, and across the sea to the new world, where the ship sinks and The Source is recovered by a native American. Finally The Source ends up in the hands of suffragettes and later becomes a family heirloom. Now the film switches to today’s world where the next story begins. We are introduced to two kids, Danny (Julian Grey) and Annie (Samantha Bowden) and their grandmother (Carolyn Lagerfelt) who is there to babysit while their mother is out. The two kids who are middle school aged, have typical problems that kids face today. To get them focused on something else, Grandmother decides to tell them a story about another set of middle school kids.
Mr. Landry must head back to his plane when a storm approaches.
The eighth grade class is graduating at the local middle school, Grandmother’s story begins, and part of the festivities includes the selection of five graduates by lottery to go on a trip to the Grand Canyon. The trip is annually sponsored by Thomas Landry (David DeLuise), a wealthy businessman who not only flies the winners there in his personal jet, but also puts them up at a cabin he owns near the Grand Canyon. The winners turn out to be Zoey Christopolix (Landry Bender), a nice girl but not part of the in crowd, Henry Jefferson, nerdy class valedictorian, Jessica Patterson (Rowan Blanchard), class snob who is roundly booed at her selection, Theodore (Teddy) Williams (Daniel Jenks), an average kid whose main interest is eating, and Matteo Esperanza (Frank Catania), a socially adept class jock. Although Mr. Landry likes giving to the public school, he refuses to send his daughter Carmen (Carmen Blanchard) there, even though she would very much like to go where she could have friends instead of being home schooled by herself with only the company of horses on her ranch and Freddie (Shane Blanchard), the younger kid down the road. This conflict of wills is a real problem that Landry addresses by telling her that she can come along this year on the Grand Canyon trip, even though she is a couple of years younger than the other students selected to go.
Carmen Landry becomes the leader of the students due to her amulet and willingness to explore.
Finally the day for the trip to the Grand Canyon arrives, and Mr. Landry, his daughter Carmen, and the five public school graduates board his plane to go on the trip. But in the air, the jet develops engine problems, and must make an emergency landing in the desert. Something has caused his engines to lose all power, and they find themselves isolated with no cell phone access either. Not knowing what else to do, they assemble up on some rocky hills nearby. But the approach of an electrical storm causes Mr. Landry concern, and he heads back to his airplane, leaving the kids with Matteo in charge. But it is Carmen who ends up taking charge. The amulet stone she wears around her neck, a family heirloom passed down by her grandmother, is suddenly lighting up, and showing a passageway that wasn’t there before. Now the several stories begin to intersect and the balance of the film is about how their world ends up connecting with the away world.
Zoey goes with the others trying to find a way out.
There is a lot of creative thought that went into the design of this film by combining a science fiction space civilizations story with a kids stranded on a field trip story mixed in with a grandmother dealing with family issues where two siblings aren’t getting along with their mother and having problems at school. There are some twists in the plot that keep it interesting. With so many plot elements to deal with, it is not surprising that timeline issues appear. They do become obvious once you view the entire story, but it would spoil your first viewing to discuss them here. A World Away is also a family affair, written, produced, and directed by Mark Blanchard and featuring his three children, Carmen, Rowan, and Shane as actors in the film. Of the three, Carmen puts in the best performance, although Rowan had a lot of fun being the out of touch snob stranded in the desert. We don’t get to know much about the other characters, who tend to fit stock roles for the stranded school kids genre as they deal with the strange circumstances they face. There are some good special effects in this world, and in the caves, especially the animation sequences. The film wasn’t big budget enough for today’s expectations for space wars scenes, so those scenes will probably get some unintended laughs. But overall A World Away is good family film fare for the middle school set.
The six students discover the cave of the aliens.
The camera shows a close up of Carmen and Zoey’s chucks as they follow an electrical force.
Carmen Blanchard in her role as Carmen Landry wears black high top chucks throughout the film. Chucks help her to stand out in the cinemaphotography from the other students and emphasize her emergence as an independent thinker and eventual leader of the group. Landry Bender (Zoey Christopolix) wears optical white low cut chucks in her role as one of the public school kids chosen for the trip to the Grand Canyon. The best chucks scene is when the six kids are in the cave. After they view a visual presentation from the away world, an electric light force leads them out of the cave. The camera work features Carmen and Zoey’s chucks as they follow the force.
The force helps to lead them out of the cave.
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