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Messy 'The Laws of the Universe — Part 0' follows no rules

"The Laws of the Universe — Part 0" is the seventh film based on the work of Ryuho Okawa, the controversial founder of the Happy Science religious group and the Happiness Realization political party in Japan.

When five students at Nazca Academy, an elite junior high boarding school, choose a topic for their "Research in Creation" class project, strange incidents lead them to pick the reality of UFOs. Ray (voice by Josh Keaton), Anna (Kari Wahlgren), Tyler (Yuri Lowenthal), Halle (Hynden Walch) and Eisuke (Roger Craig Smith) have seen some of their less impressive classmates suddenly become A students with photographic memories. They suspect alien interference, and their suspicions are soon confirmed.

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The five classmates join a bizarre assortment of extraterrestrials on a trip to Vega and the Pleiades, where they learn about the law "Like Attracts Like" and the need for love and understanding to save the Earth from the machinations of the evil Reptilians.

Director Isamu Imakake unleashes a plethora of special effects to try to distract the audience from the hopelessly tangled story line, which borrows elements from Buddhism, New Age spiritualism, the films of Leiji Matsumoto and any number of American sci-fi movies. The dialogue stumbles from self-consciously profound lectures about the "laws" governing the cosmos to lines that sound like a bad episode of "Scooby-Doo": "Then our own school has Reptilian aliens?" Yoicks!

The result is a leaden-paced film that only followers of Okawa could enjoy.

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"The Laws of the Universe — Part 0."

MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements, action, brief language.

Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Royal, West Los Angeles.

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