Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Movie So Nice They Named It Splice

I'm a life long science fiction fan. I can honestly say that the writings of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein changed my life. My favorite novel of all time is Frank Herbert's Dune. Thus, I always consider it to be a pleasure and a treat to see serious and intelligent science fiction on the big screen. Most of what is labeled "science fiction" was made by people who have no idea what that is. They think it's Star Wars. Don't get me wrong, I like Star Wars but, to me, it qualifies more as escapist fantasy than science fiction. Some of the better science fiction films of recent years were movies like Inception, Knowing and Moon. I even classified Avatar as intelligent and serious science fiction. This all brings me to the recent DVD release of Splice.

Splice annoyed the ever loving crap out of me because it was made by people who not only don't know how to make science fiction but, I would honestly guess, seem to have real contempt for it. This is very common in the movie world. Many filmmakers and studio executives consider it to be the fodder of children and nerds and would abandon the art form altogether if it wasn't so profitable. You can tell Splice falls into this category because it's a dark, depressing film that sees science as a destructive force and the pursuit of knowledge as something that will kill us all.

Splice is a monster movie about two scientists named Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley). These two are top flight biological researchers working for a pharmaceutical company. I have a relative who is a biological researcher for a pharmaceutical company and she mostly injects various compounds into mice then stares at the mice for hours or days to see if they live or die but that glamorous existence just isn't good enough for these two. Instead, they take the DNA of various animals, somehow splice them together and literally create a new lifeform. They create male and female slugs that they name Fred and Ginger that are the product of combining the DNA of diverse animals. Let this sink if for a moment. If anyone actually did this, it would be the most amazing thing in the history of anything. Anyone who did this would win the Nobel Prize for the next dozen years or so but is that good enough for them? Oh no. Just to see what will happen, they want to remake this thing but this time they want to toss in some human DNA. You know, just to see what happens.

Have I mentioned these two are supposed to be really smart? Another way you can spot the fact that the people making this had contempt for their own material is that everyone in it is an idiot. The people who made this thought that it wouldn't matter if their characters acted like idiots since people would only really care about the monster. Mind you, using human DNA in their experiments, in direct contravention of the instructions of their employers, is hardly the stupidest thing these two do. After they secretly manage to successfully combine a few human and animal proteins, a scientific feat that actually dwarfs the historic work they've already done, they figure, "What the hell?" and decide to see if they can make an embryo. That is not the stupidest thing they do. Somehow, without anyone noticing or any accountant wondering where the hundreds of thousands of dollars this work would require was going, they grow this thing into a full fledged fetus that breaks out of its vat upon birth and trashes their clean room. What do they do? Why, take it home and raise it, of course. The creature, despite it's alien appearance, deer legs and tail with a retractable scorpion stinger on the end, grows up to be a fairly hot looking girl that they name Dren (nerd spelled backwards). Dren is often temperamental, unstable and violent. She's also super strong and, if she chooses to, sprouts wings. The scientists who were smart enough to shatter the boundaries and limits of contemporary biological thinking figured something like this could be left alone in a barn while they go to work. This is NOT the stupidest thing they do.

What is the stupidest thing? That happens too far into the movie for me to give away but I will say that it leaves room for a sequel.

To sum up, this is a dumb ripoff of Frankenstein that hates science, logical thinking and happiness and tries to make up for that by showing us a monster that I got sick of seeing after a while. I suppose it could have been worse but, at the moment, I don't see how.

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