Category Archives: sci-fi
starring Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody, Delphine Chaneac
directed by Vincenzo Natali
screenplay by Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, & Doug Taylor
Warner Bros. (2010)
I remember quite a few years ago there was some weird cult/organization that held a press conference, during which they declared they had successfully cloned a human being. Of course, it wound up being a hoax, a recruitment video basically that the media was all to eager to facilitate. But the idea that a human had been cloned so early in the twenty-first century felt disturbing. What made it all the more disturbing was who was claiming responsibility. So, how about a movie that uses that as a kind of jump-off point?
Two young scientists (Polley and Brody) are the rockstars of genetic engineering, with their next feat an entirely new species spliced together from the genetic material of several animals. Their goal is to eventually find a way to cure human disease, while the corporation they work for is driven by less noble goals–profit rules all for the higher-ups footing the bill. So, when the suits tell the scientists that they are shutting down their lab so they can concentrate on more menial duties in deriving the genetic material that will garner the desired profit, they secretly go into business for themselves and splice human DNA into a brand new organism. A hybrid creature they come to call Dren (NERD, the company’s name, spelled backwards).
It’s kind of like Species, but so much better. Where the 90s movie didn’t really delve into any subtext, and relied heavily on action sequences, Splice is a far more intimate and contemplative film. It isn’t just a morality tale about genetics and cloning, but also about the relationships formed and tested between the two scientists and what essentially becomes their daughter, Dren.
And Delphine Chaneac as the CGI-accentuated monster, Dren, practically steals the movie right out from under Polley and Brody. There’s very little dialogue on her part–almost none now that I think about it–so her performance relies on facial expressions and body language. Considering that her face is altered through CGI and the lower half of her body is digitally rendered, her performance shines through. And in the latter half of the film, that performance gets very disturbing.
I have read and heard negative reviews for this film, I honestly can’t imagine why. I guess there are some viewers sitting down to watch this movie and expecting Alien, but this is nothing like that movie. If you want to harken back to a classic horror film, maybe take a look at Cronenberg’s The Fly. Better yet, watch this movie without preconceptions and just let the story hit you. I’ll bet you’ll walk away impressed and possibly a little shook up.
written by Robert Vendetti
illustrated by Brett Weidele
published by Top Shelf Productions (2006)
starring Bruce Willis, Rhada Mitchelle, Ving Rhames, and James Cromwell
directed by Jonathan Mostow
screenplay by John Brancato & Michael Ferris
released by Touchstone Pictures (2009)
I read and reviewed the two graphic novels (The Surrogates and The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone) by Robert Vendetti and Brett Weidele back in the spring. So when I finally got around to watching the film adaptation, I thought I’d do a little contrast-and-compare.
In the graphic novel, the lead detective is a kind of hard-boiled kind of cop that epitomizes the gritty art style that defines him. Bruce Willis, however, looks very polished as that character. Almost cosmopolitan, dare I say. Granted, he’s classic hard-nosed Bruce when his surrogate is damaged and he has to continue his investigation by walking the streets the old fashioned way. Personally, I thought his surrogate looked a bit like his psychiatrist character from The Sixth Sense, while his real-life counterpart looked like an even more grizzled version of Die Hard‘s McClain.
The story goes that a couple of people have died–murdered–while operating surrogates, which is something that has loss been deemed impossible by everyone in the know. So, the cops have to not only work with the monopoly that manufactures surrogates in order to find out how it’s possible to kill someone via a surrogate–a notion they dismiss outright–and deal with the anti-surrogate movement that is where their lead suspect resides.
The book tackles a lot of the philosophical questions related to living life through an avater. Things like vanity, reclusiveness, classism, racism, and a slew of other issues are approached at different points. In the movie, however, the focus really leans towards the mystery and the potential conspiracy behind who would want to sew seeds of doubt concerning the security of surrogates. On the other hand, the action scenes are so much more potent on screen than on paper. Seeing man versus man-in-surrogates was a sight to behold.
Winner: The Book. I say check out the book first, especially if you’re interested in those underlying questions about a technology that would allow you to look how you’ve always dreamed (if you have the cash), and live life while sitting in a pod and treating real life like an elaborate video-game. If you just want some sci-fi action with cool special effects and a couple of explosions, then go with the movie, as it has its own benefits.
Did you watch Firefly when it was on Fox for its single season about ten years ago? Neither did I. It kind of slipped under my radar at the time. I caught the last couple of episodes, and fell in love with show just in time to learn it had been cancelled. Way to go, Fox.
I did, however, manage to catch the film Serenity, which acted as a psuedo-sequel to the TV show and a bookend on the story as a whole. So, to think there are graphic novels to help keep this universe going, it’s a nice consolation.
The events of this book take place between the end of the show and the movie, which is kind of a necessity in my view since some irrevocable events occur in the movie.
The gang are on a job when things go awry–what else is new for them–and have to make a quick escape. Meanwhile, the proverbial boys in blue recruit a person from Mal’s past to hunt the Firefly crew down. Those guys always seem to find Mal’s enemies when they don’t want to do the dirty work themselves.
The story is fairly average when you stand back and look at it, but the characters are depicted so accurately to their flesh-and-blood counterparts that it’s easy to just sit back and read the back-and-forth between them. And given the fact that the story takes place before the movie, there’s some sacrifice in the suspense department.
Still, if you enjoyed the show and lamented its premature demise, this book gives one more chance to escape into that strange future Whedon cooked up. Something between Star Wars and Deadwood, which is not a bad way to go I suppose.