Splice

Posted: July 4, 2010 in Movies
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Splice is a modern day Frankenstein tale of genetic engineering gone wrong. It focuses on scientist couple Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley). who do genetic engineering for a research company. They’ve made two slug like creatures that mate and produce different proteins to be used for medicines. Secretly they also made another creature using human DNA. (Secret because that’s illegal) What follows is the ethical/moral struggle of what to do with this creature and how to keep it secret as it grows and matures, both physically and mentally.

Most of the film is spent with the two main scientists and their creation. Both scientists have an interesting dichotomy, as both of them become likable and unlikeable during different parts of the narrative.

Elsa is more ambitious about creating the creature at the outset, and at times is very motherly toward it, while other times she reverts back to the cold science of the situation. Her and Clive are a couple, but she doesn’t want kids of her own, not wanting to plan her life for a “third party” as she puts it. It’s also revealed she had a crazy/possibly abusive mom, which adds some depth to Elsa’s relationship with the creature. There are moments where Elsa starts to become more like her mother. It’s also interesting to see how the pair bicker over taking care of their experiment, the way parents bicker over how to raise their kids.

Clive is at first more hesitant to do this illegal experiment, but Elsa is clearly the dominant force in their relationship. He fails to bring himself to stop the experiment or destroy it early on when he has the chance. However he alternates to being compassionate towards it in the moments when Elsa becomes more cold.

Clive and the workforce at the lab have the nerd persona down. (Their organization actually has the acronym N.E.R.D.) This is reflected in their dress and other things, like the large Japanese Pop Art poster Clive and Elsa have in their apartment.

The creature, named Dren, (nerd backwards) grows very rapidly, becoming a good character in of itself. It also has a lot of cool transformations that look good. Like the Frankenstein monster, it’s curious about the world around it, and naturally desires it’s freedom and is frustrated about it’s lack thereof. There’s a quick Frankenstein-esque scene where Dren opens a door to the light outside, and Elsa quickly slams it shut. There’s a similar scene in Universals Frankenstein where the monster reaches up to the light and Dr. Frankenstein takes the light away. (Also Dr. Frankenstein in that movie was played by a man named Clive)

Splice is a little scary but it could have been more scary. There’s a subplot involving the slugs that ends in a scene that’s supposed to be disturbing. Instead it’s laugh out loud funny, and also gives some foreshadowing that you may or may not like. The big reveal at the end isn’t nearly as scary as it could have been. Also the first time you really see the creature should have been a real jump out of your seat moment but it wasn’t.

Still it was a good tale of our modern concerns over genetic engineering. It gives a warning of the dark side of ambition without hitting you over the head with it’s message. 9/10

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