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MOVIE REVIEW: Splice

A frustrating scientific abomination

Splice: Rates a D+.
Courtesy Photo

A couple working and living together (Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley) create genetic hybrid animals for the lab where they work. This has helped in the medical field a number of ways, but when they’re told the lab will shut down after expenses don’t justify the research, Polley decides they should add some human DNA, as they had originally planned for later down the road.

The movie is still very interesting when it turns into The Fly meets Island of Dr. Moreau, (with a little Frankenstein thrown in).

It’s unfortunately that the entire second half becomes a ridiculous mess. The movie doesn’t know if it wants to stay an interesting piece of science fiction, or a horror movie.

It’s even more frustrating that such great special effects are wasted. It’s also frustrating that the characters, who seem so realistic early on, make imbecilic decisions.

The first problem I had with this movie was during a conference in which the geneticists showed a few of the hybrid animals to many of the stockholders. They were fascinated by the huge worm like creatures, who we see earlier involved in a mating ritual that was beautiful and looked like something out of Avatar.

In front of the crowd, it’s a lot less “romantic.” And that would’ve been great if it was less over-the-top.

I thought it was odd that the film had these subtle lectures on the ethics of all of this, and many times the comparisons to the abortion debate got annoying.

When Polley decides to mix in human DNA, she hadn’t planned on what might happen. Unfortunately, I think the same applied for the filmmakers.

There were 11 different creatures that were built for this movie (it ages rapidly, which may have made things tougher for the prop department, but helped move the story along).

It started out like the creature from Alien, soon turned into a naked mole rat, then a rabbit, the elephant man, and finally Sinead O’Connor. And you thought you looked bad in some of your baby photos.

Another scene early in the movie that frustrates is when one scientist takes a mask off. Another sticks their arm into an incubator when a problem with the creature arises. How is it I’ve never been in a lab in my life, but would never think it’s safe to do the things they did?

Movie pet peeve #27 shows up. That’s my pet peeve that states the boss will always be mad at you and the work you do, even if you’re one of the best at your job. It’s usually the captain at a police station, telling the two hero cops he’ll “have their badges” if they keep “playing by their own rules” (even though their own rules may have just saved hundreds of people). In this lab, it’s two highly regarding geneticists who had just been featured on the cover of a magazine.

The company they work for is called N.E.R.D., which is cute. They spell it backwards, to call their latest creature Dren, played nicely by model Delphine Chaneac (bald, of course). And since it’s a model playing this character (SPOILER ALERT) – you can kind of guess that Brody will eventually have sex with it (he even gave that away on Jimmy Kimmel a few weeks ago).

Since Brody had become the father figure to this creature, I leaned into the lawyer friend watching the screening with me and said, “Would he be charged with incest or bestiality?” (SPOILER ALERT OVER)

The movie dealt a lot with Polley having a horrible childhood, but that story is told sloppily. It’s almost like they wanted to just give a lame reason for the horrible decisions she continued to make regarding Dren.

I’m also not sure why the two scientists live in such a shabby apartment when they must be making big bucks.

The movie reminded me of some of the David Cronenberg films I saw as a teenager. And I guess if I still were a teenager, I’d be able to forgive a lot of the flawed science and leaps of logic the characters make in the film.

Late in the movie, I had lost all interest because of all the craziness transpiring.

I instead had thoughts pop into my head like:

Do all scientists listen to loud rock music?

If you were a brilliant scientist like Brody, who could create any type of creature imaginable, wouldn’t you create a new nose for yourself?

When the female geneticist admits she used her own DNA and has become a mom to the creature, does she realize she’s giving Joan Crawford a run for her money by taking away the girls jewelry, toys and pet cat?

When the creature strangles the cat with its tail, will the credits say, “No cats were hurt during the filming.” Will they tell us no hybrid creatures were hurt, either?

Finally, I just wished Splice would’ve taken the good parts it had, and been spliced into a better film. The way it is now, there aren’t enough scary moments to appeal to the horror film crowd. And the sci-fi geeks will have more fun watching this at the midnight movie, throwing things and shouting at the screen.

This movie opens this weekend, and all my sci-fi geek friends are excited about it.

I’m giving it a D+, for a strong first half and great special effects.