Film Review: Splice

24/07/2010

Splice is a bit of a strange film. There’s a feeling that the eery concept could work, but ultimately the film fails to live up to expectation.

Two ambitious scientists working at a genetics lab decide to try to combine animal and human DNA to create a new species. The couple, however, underestimate its cognitive abilities and rapid growth rate…

A modern update of the classic Frankenstein tale, the film offers the prerequisite warning on the dangers of messing with nature. Other than this, however, it offers little else. Splice lacks the trepidation expected of a science fiction-horror such as this. Whilst film begins in quite an interesting manner, the final scenes are a let down. The ending is hackneyed, reminiscent of numerous other films of this nature. Splice offers little originality or adaptation in this regard.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are well cast in their respective roles. Nonetheless, neither of the two protagonists is particularly likeable, which makes it difficult to care about their fate. There is less of the tragic Victor Frankenstein about the scientists; this archetype has been replaced by conceited upstarts experimenting just to see if they can push the boundaries.

The main plus point of the film comes in the form of Dren, the hybrid created by the scientists. Director Vincenzo Natali has combined CGI and other effects with a real actress (Delphine Chanéac) to produce a highly realistic creature. The effects are seamless, particularly in her movement and interaction with the other characters.

Nonetheless, great effects are not enough to save Splice; it adds little to the genre. For a top-notch sci-fi horror film, your best bet is the far superior The Fly (either version).

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Film Review: Predators

10/07/2010

This long-awaited sequel functions as a passable action feature, but one that does not excel to the level of the 1987 original.

A random group of soldiers, hitmen and killers, as well as a doctor, land in a mysterious jungle. It isn’t long before they realise that all is not what it seems, and the hunters become the hunted…

Predators distinguishes itself as a sequel to the first two Predator films, and not a remake. There is scant mention of the goings on of the first two films, however, and the narrative takes place on an alien planet – immediately differentiating itself from the earlier films.

One of the highlights of 1987’s Predator was the way the story was built. The reveal was gradual, and it was a significant way into the film before the creature was actually exposed. This sequel does not follow in the original’s footsteps, thus it lacks the tension and accession of pace that works so well in the 1987 film. Although it could be argued that the audience knows what the predators look like so there is no need for this suspense, the characters in this film don’t, so more could have been made of their first encounter.

The action scenes in Predators function well, and the special effects appear realistic. Nonetheless, the lack of a real plot hampers the film throughout. The climax of the film dwindles, rather than going out with a bang.

Adrien Brody is convincing enough in his role, but there is little character development in this film. Topher Grace’s character is somewhat interesting, but is let down by half-baked exposition towards the end. Elsewhere, Laurence Fishburne makes a memorable entrance, but a pitiful exit.

The action scenes in Predators are solid on the whole, and the film is certainly watchable. Nonetheless, it brings nothing new or interesting to the franchise. If you are looking for a well-executed action sci-fi film, you’re best bet is to stick with the far superior original.