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A Director's Playground: Vincenzo Natali On The Set Of Splice - Zoom In On The Innovative Filmmaker Of The Global Cult Sensation Cube As He And His Creative Team Explore New Motivating Territory
Video: Widescreen 1.78:1 Color (Anamorphic)
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Run Time: 104 min
Synopsis from DVD Cover:
Superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) specialize in splicing DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrid that could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, they secretively take their experiment underground - risking their careers to push the boundaries of science and serve their own curiosity and ambition. The result is Dren, who exceeds their wildest dreams - and threatens to become their worst nightmare.
OK, this is one of those movies that's a little bit more than JUST a horror film-it goes further and, whether you like it or not, it makes you think. It starts in the land of the scientific (or pseudo-scientific, at least) in the world of science, but its strangle heart ponders the moral and societal issues of parenting, ethics, sexuality, and morality. It's almost a perfect science fiction movie, not necessarily because of the film itself, but because of what it does. Yes, they tried to make it look all scary-like when it was out in theaters, and it has its creepy and suspenseful moments but I think we can thank its status as a somewhat independent Canadian movie for keeping it free of being bogged down in typical formulaic "horror" convention.
Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrian Brody) are a couple of book brilliant but morally shaky young scientists in love, and with their combined brain power they've created a whole new animal species that might just hold the key to correcting lots of the world's genetic maladies. They decide to go for more, though, and they go that dreaded extra step-breeding with human DNA-that always leads to mayhem, chaos, and a gaggle of moral and ethical dilemmas.
"Splice" is some thought-provoking yet boring clunker, but it does make your brain move a bit, which is the mark of good sci-fi. It moves along briskly, with plenty of action and just enough science to be credible without becoming too technical. Clive and Elsa aren't typical brainy scientists, so when they begin their experiment, for a while we're right there with them. it's when their own issues begin to sneak in to their "raising" of Dren that things go awry. Everything is explained in ways that, though improbable, may not be impossible, so the narrative never gets too bogged down in proving its own theories.
The actors, for their part, give it their all. Brody nails every one of Clive's doubts and issues with "Dren," somehow managing to keep our sympathies-sort of-even when the ultra-creepy sets in and he ventures into forbidden territory. Polley, as she does in other roles, brings her own intelligence in, with just enough crazy to make her slightly unreliable as a narrator. The real star of this show, though, is Delphine Chanéac as Dren. With a minimal (for the task at hand) use of CG and no dialogue save for animal-like clicks and coos, Chanéac creates a fully realized character who seems more human, at times, than her "creators"-which, I suppose, might be the point.
On the DVD, the only Extra to be found is the 30-minute featurette "A Director's Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the Set of Splice," a brief history of Natali's work and a look at him directing on the "Splice" set. Not a bad little feature, but a movie this full of stuff deserved more goodies.
Sure, we've seen this theme done a thousand times, but "Splice" does it well, and it makes us think, and in a horror world overrun by bad plot and pointlessness, intelligent is a welcome respite.