Thursday, June 3, 2010

Higgens Network: Splice

As I write this, the film hasn’t come out but I foresee Splice will be one of the more divisive films of the year. Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley play Clive and Elsa, a married couple who are gene-splicing scientists. They just created a pair of a new blobish animal that they have coined Fred and Ginger. Clive wants to take the next step in their romantic relationship towards children, but Elsa is more interested in the next scientific step. Worried about their job security, she goes rogue and splices human DNA with animal DNA to make something…new.

They see the many opportunities to abort this experiment. They say the infamous phrase “What’s the worst that can happen?” (without irony) many times. It is beyond the realm of fate acting up; these two are responsible for their actions. However what happens is not as entertaining as it could be. This is a Michael Crichton-esque plot where science is mixed into a dangerous thriller. Unlike Jurassic Park or The Andromeda Strain, Splice doesn’t have the entertaining beats to hold the audience for its duration. The themes of the film take too much prominence in the film and the story is hurt from it.

In order to fulfill the parallel between parenting being scientists to their creation shortcuts are taken. An unnecessary backstory was created for Elsa to explain some of her decisions. There is a looming threat of discovery from their laboratory that is often forgotten. This movie works best when it’s just between Clive, Elsa, and their creation, which is ultimately named Dren.

This film has been labeled as a modern day Frankenstein tale, but this doesn’t put Clive and Elsa into the role of God but only goes as far as parents. Like Mary Shelley’s tale though, this does explore a lot of ethical gray area. By now audiences are accustomed to the debates with genetics, but Splice takes taboos one step further near the end of the film which will definitely have people talking. These scenes can be seen as bold filmmaking or unjustified shock value. I fall towards the latter because the addition of those scenes relabeled the movie as campy. It was difficult to take the movie seriously for the duration of the film especially after it dives into horror movie clichés.

The director, Vincenzo Natali, is most remembered for the low-budget pre-Saw horror film called Cube. Like Splice, that film was inventive but ultimately left the audience cold with disappointment. There are plenty of smart people who will take the film’s stance on science and gender to be provocative but I still see it as misconstrued. With a film, it is difficult to delve deeper in a film that disappointed you on its surface level. The plot and characters were too cheapened to recommend this potentially interesting movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment