Splice

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Notable Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polly, Delphine Chanéac

Rating: R

Review:  Let me just start out by stating that Splice is one of the most grossly mis-marketed films of all time.  If you watched the trailers and TV spots, it painted the film as your every day run of the mill creature feature with human cloning as the reason for the creature.  But after I sat through the entire film waiting for something to even try to scare me, I found a completely different movie.  Instead, I watched a science fiction drama that had a beautifully developed story, fantastic evolution in characters throughout the whole movie, and although I know the film is not realistic at all, it does give decent social commentary on the ethical and moral implications of human cloning/splicing.  I ended up loving this movie, but for all the reasons I thought the movie would be void of.

Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polly) are two of the best genetic scientists around and have spent countless hours trying to create a new entity that can be used for producing proteins in mass quantity.  When this feat if finally accomplished, the duo wants to take it to the next step and include human DNA into the mix.  Of course, that calls into play man legal and moral questions that their company is not willing to deal with.  Instead, the company decides to renovate the laboratory and take away the splicing technology in exchange for the materials that will allow the scientists to synthesize the protein they already have.  Discouraged, Elsa and Clive decide to do some experimenting of their own before the company can get there.  They just want to see if it is possible to splice in the human DNA, and then they just want to see if the embryo will accept the concoction, and then they just want to see if it can be born…you see where this is going.  When Dren (Chanéac) is born, the scientists have to keep their creation hidden for the sake of their own reputation and well-being, but find Dren growing at such a rapid rate that even they might not be able to keep their plan growing with her.  We watch as Clive and Elsa deal with problems in their own relationship, deal with keeping Dren hidden, try and raise Dren and teach her how to behave, and all without knowing how she can evolve next.

Being a parent is so hard now a day.

Splice was fantastic for the reason that other sci-fi hits like Moon and District 9 were; it had an expertly written original story.  The sci-fi genre is tough because there is so much potential to have a great story, but most of the time we get B grade garbage like any movie that ends up on the Sy-Fy channel.  But there is so much room for originality in this genre because of the endless possibilities technology gives us.  There is always an opportunity for a writer to take his script somewhere new because there is simply no end to technology.  The trick is not losing the viewer though because many people are turned off by writing that involves a lot of complicated scientific mumbo jumbo.  You have to have a script that is scientifically realistic enough but also easy enough for people to understand.   Splice executes a fantastic screenplay about the topic of human cloning while being able to seem scientifically accurate enough.  At the same time it is simple enough for a guy like me to understand which keeps the viewer interested.  The writing was superb and the story to so in-depth that the attention to detail was never lost.  Every scenario was planned out carefully and played out by the writers.  This is the originality that Hollywood so desperately needs.

The attention to detail with the characters was what really blew me away.  Sure, the scientists were highly stereotypical (basically stating that in order to be a scientist you had to dress eccentrically and be into Anime…aka be a nerd), but they were 100% believable.   Bringing Dren into the lives of Clive and Elsa changed them forever and their actions mirrored the events taking place.  Their characters showed this beautifully in the way that they change so drastically from start to finish.  Clive spends a lot of the movie flip-flopping on whether keeping Dren is a good idea, and you never know how he will react to a certain situation.  Elsa is a sweet and caring woman, until memories from her past come out revealing her abusive childhood.  This causes you to never know whether you’re going to get the motherly Elsa or the cold-hearted Elsa acting out against her own childhood.  But both characters possess a human element that sci-fi characters usually lack in exchange for more cool gadgets and fancy science talk.  The characters cause some deeply dramatic moments that you would never expect from a movie of this nature.  And not to mention that Clive and Else were played out by two veteran actors in Adrien Brody (who always impresses) and Sarah Polly.  They both did fantastic jobs.

And can we forget Dren?  We see her through all stages of life as she ages rapidly.  I give actress Delphine Chanéac a lot of credit for being able to pull off a character who can’t even speak.  The movements of the creature were very erratic and not normal for a human being, but Chanéac pull them off.  The make-up was very well done and I completely forgot she was actually a real person and not the creature.  Just thought some respect should be paid.

Splice is an inventive sci-fi movie that shows why we shouldn’t mess with human cloning.  It was a well-written script with a lot of depth and nicely executed character work.  The problem I had though was that I went in expecting some type of horror film and instead got this.  Now, it wasn’t a bad thing because I still loved it.  But it was highly misleading if you aren’t looking for this type of movie.  Now I know some people will argue the horror comes out of the social commentary about human cloning and yadda yadda.  But that isn’t horror.  You won’t get a single scare.  Instead I got what was essentially a drama with science fiction themes and a little black humor mixed in.  Again, I’m not holding it against the movie but it’s something you should know.  It is very story and character driven and there is a lack of action.  But it is extremely enticing nonetheless.  It kept me interested in how the trio’s relationship would evolve next and at no point did I think it was dull by any means.  Splice also garners points for some REAL originality, not like how The Human Centipede thinks it’s original…(yea I still haven’t let that one go).  But I don’t think this is a movie everyone can enjoy.  Some will be bored by its sci-fi nature and others will find it completely laughable.  So it’s better to know what you’re walking into instead of being fooled by crafty advertisers.  Think of this review as one of those cheesy basic cable promos…”The More You Know!”

Final Rating: 8 freaky deaky clones out of 10

It’s like a little raptor/shrew mutant…ew.

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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