Entries Comments

Splice Doesn’t Live Up to Potential, But It’s OK

Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, and Doug Taylor
Warner Bros., 2010

One of the small hopes for this summer is Splice, a movie that has been getting good advance word for the last couple of months.  Directed by Vincenzo Natali, the man behind 1997’s cult hit Cube, Splice looks to cure the doldrums provided by one of the most unspectacular May months ever.

So we’ve hit the point now where gene splicing isn’t exactly a new evil.  Most of us were introduced to the idea with Jurassic Park, a movie that Splice takes from a little bit in terms of its central monster.  Even more so, we’ve totally hit the point where we believe all corporations are the embodiment of evil…also an idea explored by Jurassic Park.  So with all this talk about Splice has come this discussion about its points about the evils of science and corporations looking for a buck, and of course, who cares?  Yeah, we know.

What that leaves for Splice to do is entertain and frighten, which it does a good amount of the time.  Lovers/scientists Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) and Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) have been making animal hybrids using various DNA and have become stars in the science world.  The next step, logically, is to add human DNA to the hybrids in order to make advances in medicine.  They’re turned down, but that’s not going to stop them.  Before you know it, the driven Elsa is making a human/animal hybrid before Clive can blink, and there’s a little pasty white gerbil-like creature running around.  Clive doesn’t like it one bit, and Elsa starts caring for it like a child.

Soon, it’s bigger and dressed up like a little girl, then it turns into a teenager rapidly, and its learning curve is amazing.  Elsa names her Dren (Delphine Chaneac), the backwards of “nerd.”  For the most part, Dren behaves like any child, prone to be good but always looking for ways to break her barriers, which Elsa and Clive impose on her out of necessity.  With a big long tail and a stinger at the tip, Dren’s “acting up” could be deadly.  And let’s not forget that Dren starts feeling love and sexual attraction, either.  Oh, and let’s not forget that she’s not only human but a whole bunch of other kinds of animals, too.

The best thing about this movie is Chaneac’s performance, full of curiosity about the things she encounters, trying to learn how to behave, especially when she is the first of her kind.  Just about every time she’s on screen, it’s amusing or scary.  Also, I enjoyed the role reversals of the two scientists.  At first, Elsa is the protective mother, going beyond the scientific method’s parameters and forgetting what Dren is, while Clive seems to want to end this thing’s life as soon as possible for all the trouble it could cause.  Then, there’s a noticeable change of heart on both sides, although we’re treated to scenes that seem out of character or downright unbelievable.

All in all, it’s worth seeing.  It’s not great by any measure, but at the very least it raises the low bar set by the previous month.  I guess I was hoping for this to be a little scarier, a little more suspenseful, and the whole movie seems to be a big setup for a sequel.  We start seeing the possibilities of this whole thing only in the last twenty minutes, meaning we’ve watched one big prequel, or “two-hour series premiere,” much like Robin Hood’s approach last month.  Here’s hoping for a much better June.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.