I love science fiction. Consequently I can usually find some saving grace in any sci-fi film. However, the movie I’m about to review is an exception to the rule. The film is “Splice” starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley and Delphine Chaneac.
The film centers on a pair of brilliant scientists who have created a new life form for the purpose of harvesting life-saving medicinal materials. They believe their new creations will revolutionize the medical field and provide cures for dozens of diseases in the future.
Unfortunately, their financial backers are not interested in the fact they have made history by creating a new species while splicing together dozens of others. As far as they are concerned Fred and Ginger – – the names given to the new creatures – – are just monsters. What they want is the new material and they want it now.
To that end, they decide to shut down the old lab to overhaul it to begin making the drugs. It’s a decision that frustrates and angers the pair of creators, Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley). They fear they will not be allowed to take their experiment to the next level – – splicing in human genes.
The two decide to take the leap anyway and grow a new species that also has human DNA. Many things go wrong along the way but eventually they discover they have succeeded with a creature they name Dren (Chaneac).
When their backers go public with Fred and Ginger it seems that they may be able to expose their additional secret as well. At a huge press conference, they introduce Fred and Ginger and release them from their individual cages so they can meet.
However, they and everyone else are shocked when Fred and Ginger start attacking one another instead of mating like before. It turns into a bloody battle that shocks everyone, including Elsa and Clive. The creatures destroy one another and effectively end any chances of revamping their project.
Eventually they discover that Ginger had switched sexes to becomer another male. That explained the creatures’ battle and ultimate death.
Of course Clive and Elsa still have Dren, an ace in the hole they hope they can figure out how to use in the future. But first they have to move her out of the lab and into Elsa’s family’s abandoned farmhouse.
By this time Dren is full grown, much more human than anticipated and eager to escape her prison. It becomes a struggle to keep her calm and Elsa begins to resent Dren’s growing relationship with Clive.
What takes place afterwards is a cautionary tale about man’s folly in trying to take the act of creation out of the hands of the real Creator. A lot of people end up paying a price for the arrogance of science that has gone amok.
I wish I could say this was a good movie. Unfortunately, I can’t. It was, at best, a passable one and barely even that.
Brody is a brilliant actor whose talents were wasted in this film. He did his best to emote as well as take control when the movie wanted to go too far off course. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Polley was barely two-dimensional. She was either too giddy and happy with herself or too unexplainably angry. She didn’t have the skills required to go from protective mother to would-be assassin in one giant leap. The effort was contrived and awkward.
Chaneac, on the other hand, managed to do a lot with her eyes and movement. Since she didn’t speak, she had no other choice. She was good but still could have been better.
Even the supporting cast lacked any real punch. David Hewitt, who proved himself a great actor in Sy Fy Channel’s long running hit “Stargate, SG1” seemed off balance. His character was lackluster and unimpressive. Brandon McGibbon, as Clive’s brother, was barely tolerable. Simona Maicanescu, as the head of the financial backers, was one dimensionally useless.
The screenplay, written by Vincenzo Natali and Antoinette Terry Bryant had a great idea behind it but failed to deliver on all accounts. With Natali also directing, there seemed to be no place for the movie to go.
Had there been stunning cinematography, great special effects, or wonderful sound, I could have praised them while also slamming the remainder of the film. Unfortunately, none of that came to fruition, leaving nothing to get excited about.
“Splice” is simply not a good science fiction film. It doesn’t make you think. It doesn’t shock sufficiently to gather your attention or your ire, although it comes close to the latter. The acting is mediocre at best. The directing is deplorable and the screenplay is a monumental failure.
For all of these reasons and more I can’t give it high scores. This one gets one out of five stars and that is strictly to honor Brody’s attempt to bring something memorable to this venture.
RATING SCALE USED:
0 = A stinker. Don’t waste the money!
1 = Bad. Rent it at your own risk.
2 = Below average. See only if you have time to kill.
2.5 = Average. A toss up.
3 = Good. Worth a looksee.
3.5 = Very Good. I recommend it.
4 = Excellent. Don’t miss it!
4.5 = Outstanding. What are you waiting for?
5 = Destined to become a classic. You will be sorry if you don’t see it.