Splice is a new SF flick from Vincenzo Natali, who directed Cube and has, over at IMDB, an intriguing note about having Neuromancer in development (about time someone did, if it’s Gibson’s awesome yarn).
It follows the travails of two scientists, the couple Clive (Adrien Brody, far geekier than his himbo turn in Predators) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), who create a new critter using animal and human DNA. It starts out really well. A little bit spooky a la Alien, some serious ethical issues being bandied about, the pressure of commercial considerations, ego: a lovely simmering soup of issues that we’re ready for, given the state of bioscience these days.
Then it turns into more a treatise on child-rearing — if you can’t do the time, don’t commit the crime — and then it kind of falls away into a warning about men being little more than dicks with the intelligence enough to get themselves into trouble, the primal drive to re-create, the way that upbringing can also spur a kind of hereditary legacy.
The acting is superb and the special effects stunning without being overstated, though I suspect it would not pay to dwell too long on the actual science represented on-screen. This is extrapolative SF: go with it.
Splice is enjoyable and skates along with some clever notions, but never quite fulfils the promise it carries.
I also watched Cube recently, and found it wonderful in its simplicity. A group of apparently ordinary folks, each bringing something special to the table, find themselves trapped inside a massive cube composed of many, many rooms, some with lethal traps. They have to work together to puzzle their way out before lack of food and water kills them. It’s a spooky premise because there is no prospect of outside intervention or even intention. What follows is a case study of the human rat under pressure, and how the characters, such diverse personalities, react is half the fun.
Toy Story 3 is the surprise movie of the year for me. I went only on the recommendation of a friend, and was swept away by its tight storytelling and enjoyable characterisation. It’s dark stuff, possibly too dark for really young viewers — some of the toys are downright mean and there are some nasty situations. The premise is that a bunch of toys, who have their own life when not under scrutiny by humans, face an uncertain future as their owner, Andy, prepares to go to college. Andy’s grown up, so what is to become of his toys: the attic or the dump? Themes of abandonment, hurt, family are prevalent, and they tug on the heartstrings with surprising power for the third in a series. Take a tissue for the closing scenes.