Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Splice (Rhoades)

“Splice” Provides Sci-Fi Spice
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

A chimera is a mythological creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. However, real-life chimeras occur when a mutation or embryonic fusion causes genetically different tissue to occur in the same organism. Also it can be caused by DNA manipulation in a laboratory.

That is the plot of “Splice,” the new sci-fi thriller that’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. It’s that age-old story, typified by Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” of man trying to play God.

Hotshot genetic engineers Clive (Oscar-winner Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Canadian actress Sarah Polley) have managed to splice together the DNA of different animals, creating genetic hybrids. But they have bigger ambitions. What if they blended human DNA with an animal’s?

They propose this experiment to the pharmaceutical company that funds their research, but given society’s ethical and legal boundaries their request is turned down.

“If we don’t use human DNA now, someone else will,” argues Elsa to her lab partner. That dusty old rationalization. So they proceed with the experiment on their own.
Think: H.G. Wells’ “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” Or Jeff Goldblum when he comes of the transporter half-human and half-fly. And consider that the names Clive and Elsa come from the classic horror film, “Bride of Frankenstein.”

Clive and Elsa’s human hybrid turns out to be highly intelligent. In fact, she’s quite human-like, if you ignore the sleek feline form with bird-like haunches and serpentine tail. They name her Dren.

Writer-director Vincenzo Natali (“Cube”) says, “I think in reality Dren could exist. It’s just a question of whether people choose to do an experiment like that or not. I felt it was important with this film to just try and stay on a human scale and not go over the top with the creature design.”

Creating the hybrid creature employed, uh, a hybrid of special effects techniques. “We just used everything,” says Natali. “We threw in the kitchen sink. She’s a puppet sometimes, sometimes she’s an actress, and sometimes she’s fully digital.”
The moral of the film? “It really is not about whether were going to do this, it’s really about how we’re going to do it. I think that’s the question the film asks. How do you deal with something like this? It’s a very loaded topic.”

In “Splice” our hapless scientists grow perhaps too fond of Dren (partly played by exotic Delphine Chaneac). But remember this is at heart a horror flick. Will they face the consequences of their folly as Dren develops into a deadly, winged monster?
Vincenzo Natali prophetically says, “Yeah, I hope this is a movie that gets under your skin.”
[from Solares Hill]

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