Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Splice (2010): B

Here’s the setup; Elsa (Polley) and Clive (Brody), two young rebellious scientists, defy legal and ethical boundaries and forge ahead with the dangerous experiment of splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new organism. It’s a standard beginning to most monster or virus movies these days and it’s a surprise when the movie takes a crucial turn just a few minutes later. It’s no spoiler to reveal that a creature (Chaneac) emerges and the couple slowly becomes attached to their mini female Frankenstein. Named "Dren", the creature rapidly develops and ages as the relationship with her creators happens over a matter of weeks as opposed to an entire lifetime. This unexpected turn is what saves the film from mediocrity but is also what ultimately ends up holding the film back from true cinematic glory. Much like the creature itself, the movie is a hybrid of two species; Sci-Fi and Horror. The first and third acts work as a horror film and the second act is more of  a Sci-fi/Drama. Director Vincenzo Nitali hasn’t created a masterpiece here but it’s sure to become another small but satisfying Sci-fi production that never caught the public’s eye.

We’ve seen the “nature run amok” story many times on both larger (Jurassic Park) and more intimate (Moon) scales. So when we’re faced with the initial horror setup, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough. Once the “family” element is introduced it’s a bit disorienting because the film seemed to be marketed as horror. Eventually the film finds itself and enters some strong and innovative territory that makes the film recommendable. However, the relationship between the three main characters advances so quickly we never have time to slow down and think about the questions being raised. The biggest question, the ethics of human cloning, is given enough time to breathe but when we return to it in the final act it doesn’t have much to say. Of course, you can’t deny that the film is exploring some new ideas and having fun while doing it.  Its strongest qualities will blossom outside of the theater experience after pondering all the questions it asks. It wasn’t everything it could be, but it’s a hell of a lot more than you usually get for your $10 ticket.

1 comment:

  1. Like the mutant progeny, Splice is an unsuccessful hybrid: half moral fable, half mad scientist makes monster flick.