Monday, July 26, 2010

"Splice" - Abysmal

"Splice" is two sci-fi/horror stories in one, really. In part, it's a modern-day Frankenstein tale about scientists whose ambitions run wild. Yet it's also a story about two lovers/co-workers and the emotional mess caused by parenthood. "Splice" was written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who made the exceptional "Cube" in 1997. My expectations were quite high, especially given the cast. Those hopes were cruelly disemboweled by senseless emotional beats and plot developments that only occurred because the writers wanted them to occur.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are attractive and vivid genetic scientists. They're employed by NERD, a company that rides their work to the cusp of the next big bio-tech revolution. In between being quirky and listening to good music, they hit on a bio-engineering breakthrough. But why create a pig that produces human insulin? That's boring. How about a cat-sized fleshy slug that makes proteins that might cure everything! Sounds like a solid way to mass-produce an Alzheimer's cure, right?

Damn close to an "Alien" poster, huh?

Wrong. Remember that these scientists have only just attained their amazing goal of making two monstrosities and getting them to wink at each other ("Fred" and "Ginger"). For some reason (the plot, apparently), they have no interest in studying their creation fully, or even very much at all. The pair tell their boss they immediately want to start splicing (we have title!) human DNA into a third slug-thing. I only took a few science courses in college, but this sounds like an improbable (and dangerous) leap ahead.

How bad was "Splice?" I'll give, right now, five signs of how bad it was - all of these are firsts for me here... (1) Since they took time and effort to make a professionally-crafted motion picture, I'll take the time and effort to explain how they failed gloriously, but deeply. (2) I'm breaking my own trend and will spoil the hell out of the film after the next 14 paragraphs, but I'll post a warning before I start. (3) I will not edit overuse of words like "stupid" and "dumb" and "stupidity," unless I remove whole sentences or clauses. (4) I'll only bother to put the titles for "Splice," "The Bride of Frankenstein" and "Cube" in quotation marks. Just this once, correct punctuation - on something I must write well - isn't worth the extra effort.

Finally, (5) I'll first provide an synopsis of my in-theater thoughts, hoping that you read the rest of the review anyway. Here it is:

Wow! Ick!... That's neat. Sarah Polley really is pretty; I'm glad she's a good actress. Why isn't he stopping her? Why is he even arguing with her? Your girlfriend's dangerously nuts, dude, and you have no real reason not to stop her because she'll mess it up if she does things this dumbly... Well,... I guess I can understand why you didn't, and it is a horror film. But wait, why aren't you stopping her this time?... Or this time? Wait, you didn't stop her just then? You're all gonna die now! [40+ minutes later] Wait, now you're starting too? Before you were just "not stopping" her stupidity - now you're actively joining in! Wow that was nasty. This makes no sense. This makes no sense. That makes no sense... And that makes no sense, either. Oh screw the lot of you! Why the hell would Adrien Brody's guy be doing that? Look at him kiss like that - this isn't offensive, it's just hysterical! Does this movie take place in a world where everyone's got a suicidally-low IQ? Oh, lord... Of course. Of course. Yes- No, wait. No, of course not... You're dead now, stupid! Oh, of course! Just end now,... please? Oh, thank god.

A rare moment of science in a supposedly "sci-fi" horror film.

For a brief shining moment after the office scene, we have that thing called "believability." Their boss is smarter than they are, although she only raises the ethical and legal concerns. She also says they need to stay on this project to unlock its full potential and make the company lots of cash. The Boss-lady makes vague promises, but wisely ignores the scientists' claim that other companies might "go there" first. I suspect that, like me, the exec didn't feel threatened by stealing a science that hasn't been revealed to anyone. So far, we have 1 smart person and 4+ dumb ones...

I should point out that aspects of the moments after this meeting - as in "The Bride of Frankenstein," I guess - parallel the story of Adam and Eve. Both are driven toward potential disaster by an innocent curiosity, though Polley's character is hyper-aggressive about it. Having an aside with her man, she insists that she won't focus on their current task. Brody sounds less strident and angry, but his intentions are the same. Things go quickly awry.

Two lovers? A vase? Or a lantern-jawed guy talking science with a hottie?

This movie is a joy to look at, from beginning to end. A brilliant photographic eye is complemented by magnificent special effects. The visual sensibility is amazing, even when the on-screen action is revolting. Back in the day, a swath of movies with inferior CG-graphics were released in theaters (Lawnmower Man, anything with monsters). Many recognized those flicks as a desperate attempt to capitalize on the few quality successes that came before. In "Splice," the quality of the images is so pristine, it really shows how far the tech has come - even lesser budgets can make painfully pretty images. This is before I even consider "Dren," the mistake of science that we get to know so well.

It's an amazing piece of technical work that can put a creature like that on the screen. It's as seamless as "Pan's Labyrinth," but has much brighter lighting throughout. Keeping special effects in shadows and dim rooms is easy, but much of the work happens in strong light, like fluorescents. PL is a good comparison given how often CGI is used and how terrifying the results look. Dren makes me feel sick to my stomach. It really is sickening to see something that looks so close to human, and this particular thing is grotesque all on its own. These are admirable efforts in concept and execution, just like PL. Extra credit goes to the French actress who plays the older Dren; it's a neat performance too, even if I'm thinking "die. die please. die now... ok, then, die... now!"

Hazmat suit? Good idea. Not killing it right now? Bad idea.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley lead the six characters that get any real dialogue. The pair are solid actors and invest themselves in their roles. They receive good support from the minor players (who I don't recognize from anything, really). The acting tells the story well enough and properly captures the tone of the scenes - even if I find those tones to be unsatisfying.

And Natali does his job so well! His direction is good, and his story is full of interesting ideas. That last bit is very special, since lots of horror and sci-fi films have nice gimmicks, not concepts or messages. Good for you, Vincenzo! I respect your truly artistic approach to film, and your dedication to story. Yes, you read those last words right, and there's no irony.

How can I trash the story as thoroughly as I'm going to, while praising the writer? Because someone actually bothered to combine a story-line for the plot with a story-line for the emotions of the characters. This does not happen often enough in movie-theaters (or on TV). So yes, Vincenzo Natali clearly cares about telling a well-constructed story that engages the feelings and thoughts of his audience. This deserves respect because it means a professional job has been done.

It merits applause since many movies just provide a setting for supposedly-cool explosions or sex or jokes or fights. So many successful films have a plot that sounds thin as tissue paper, or makes as much sense as the fever-dreams of a schizophrenic. Movies for teens and kids are usually really dumb (compare Transformers and Superman Returns to Coraline, Wallace & Grommit, Batman Begins...), and so it's shocking to see how simple most grown-up pictures are. Movies don't have to be intellectual or philosophical, but they don't have to ask you to shut down your brain completely.

I'd've killed it way before this phase of development. Like, on Day 1.

Yet my two massive problems with "Splice" are basic and inescapable : no single plot development makes sense, nor do any of the emotional responses from our two leads. For trail-blazing scientists, the pair are complete idiots. I mean stupid stupid stupid people who are liable to get everyone around them killed. And dumb people might say "it looked like the right thing to do, pushing that big red button." But since the roles are supposed to be smart we get trite dialogue about "it" not being so simple, or so easy, or how there's a reason for "X." There might be an expressible reason for burning your house down (like termites), but that doesn't make it a less foolish or unnecessary decision.

That sort of cliched and unconvincing dialogue ("not blowing up the world, it's not so simple, Tim") works for little mistakes like yelling from frustration for a second or two, or leaving appliances on after going to work. But imagine 104 minutes of parents letting a 5 year old handle their gun. Yes, this is a horror film, but what are my emotions 30-odd minutes in? These people are idiots, my suspension of disbelief is gone, and I'm not going to buy any of the emotional pathos that will follow.

Trying to gain trust? It has a lethal stinger that you can't explain, idiot!

I'm going to "count all the ways" this movie didn't work for me. No more analogies, I'm going to spoil "Splice" to pieces. I feel no guilt since it was half-rotten on arrival:
First of all, the plot of this film falls apart and fails. It's built on the premise of bio-genetic work gone awry and the creation of new life. This is the story, and it sets up the plot. Yet the two leads only act like scientists for 5-10% of the film. By making the geniuses the ones who move the story forward, the plot fails.

Scientists generally create something and then study it. Whether it's making a new substance to add to cereal or a new cosmetic, scientific creations are tested, ripped apart, analyzed with lots of fancy tools. In this movie, Brody and Polley play Clive and Elsa, named after the two people in the title of "The Bride of Frankenstein."

They seem to have no interest in studying their creation. It makes the "stuff" they wanted it to make, and that's pretty much it. They want to leap ahead to the unpredictable, immoral, and illegal step of combining their invention with human DNA. Why? For what? How do they have any idea what will happen? Even my limited scientific knowledge tells me that scientists usually follow a specific goal, they don't just mix all the chemicals in their lab to see what will happen.

This reaction? It's the right one, brainiacs! Kill, lantern-jaw, Kill!

But Clive and Elsa are bad at their jobs in other ways. They're in an incredible rush to move ahead with their reckless idea, but their reasons make no sense. They insist to their boss that other scientists will splice human DNA into their creation.

How? Only they possess the technology, experience, and information necessary for the task. Surely, their new slug-thing can't be duplicated in the next few months. When Elsa runs off and forcibly starts phase 2, she tells Clive that this will be "their only chance." But she says that as they're storing the genetic material in liquid nitrogen for eternal preservation. Why did she think that it was "now or never?"

Now we get to something that pretty much breaks the scientific premise of the movie: after their secret project gets going, they never analyze creation #2 (they call her "Dren"). Not right away, mind you; they examine the abomination that comes out - a cute/freaky little puppy-chicken thing. And when it gets a little older and starts looking human, they actually stick needles in it and draw some fluid and check it out.

Aside from those two moments, though, that's it. No x-rays, no chemical studies, no nothing. Does that make sense? Dren has a venomous stinger in its tail from the moment it was born. the sting instantly sent Polley into shock, but they never remove the appendage. They attach a little glass tube on the tail and hope it doesn't come off somehow.

Actual babies get poked and prodded far more often than this brand-new entity that might produce a deadly gas with its breath, or exude acid from its skin. Seriously, it might be growing some kind of infectious virus or super-cancer inside itself. Clive and Elsa would have no idea, if that were the case. It might be allergic to leather or pollen. Clive even notes that the stinger shouldn't be there, since none of its DNA has codes for toxic liquids.

Their "cage" has no top. I guess NERD never had any security, then.

The pair are also still in charge of furthering their original project, the miracle slug-thing. They do ZERO work on that front. Clive ignores updated info on the slug pair - stuff that he should pay attention to, even if only to draw eyes away from his hidden work. Elsa? She pops into the lab one more time between the half-way mark and the closing credits.

I need to flash ahead in the film to wrap up the sloppiness in the plot. What happens to their first project, Fred and Ginger? The corporate bosses at Nerd unveil the two slug-things to press and investors. One is male, one is female, and they boldly proclaim these things will procreate; this will start a new race to support their vast medical goals.

The barrier between the two creatures is removed. F&G approach each other, and start fighting inside their steel-bolted glass enclosure. The artificial things tear each other to shreds, somehow shaking the extremely-heavy cage until it keels over and showers the front row viewers in blood and glass.

Now I actually like this scene a bit. It's nasty and messy. The emotions of the audience are pitch-perfect mirrors of the awful award ceremony in David Cronenberg's "Dead Ringers." But is anyone supposed to believe that they kept the slugs separated after their first bonding session? That no one checked if they were in the same condition, and capable of reproducing, like before?

Come to think of it, who would market a bio-product without having fully observed the life cycle of one? That makes no sense, right? What if in their last seconds of life, they emit a highly toxic gas? Real scientists would have to at least watch it get born, eat, reproduce, and die before they would think of letting others observe it. NERD went straight to PR stills...

Worst of all, would any company, much less a team of bio-geneticists, let this happen live? Before an audience that could make or break the company? Without weeks of tests and trial runs and maybe already having 20 slug-babies to display? No, no, no, no, NO. In the end, once the emotional story takes off, the scientific story is just a poorly-handled backdrop.

Because this is such an easy face to trust.

Yet the emotional story manages to be even more senseless. The audience might not know science, but they do know human behavior, right? Early on, we learn that Clive knows next to nothing about his live-in girlfriend's past. It's implied that she had an abusive childhood, but he never pushes to discover more. He brings up children to Elsa, and she dodges bigtime. She claims she's picked a new place to move in to, and she doesn't want to care whether it's big enough for three. It makes sense, since he won't have to take maternity leave, bear the child, or suffer morning sickness.

However, from the moment she sees the deadly puppy-chicken thing she starts treating Dren like at least a pet, not a science project. As it looks more human, she clearly looks on Dren as her daughter. How can she treat an unnatural, lethal, and unpredictable thing like a stray cat, or a newly-adopted baby? This issue is completely ignored by Clive until most of the way through the picture.

This, despite the fact that Polley clearly has a screw loose. Her arguments with Brody are never scientific, they're emotional - loud, daft, and short-sighted. He constantly caves in or backs down, although she jeopardizes their jobs, their lives, and the safety of everyone in the lab. I'm not taking the guy's side; I wish Elsa made sense. And their talks aren't really about monogamy or chores.

It isn't long before Elsa takes Dren to other, easily escapable, places in their facility. Safety precautions on that damn tail are practically non-existent, so she's really endangering their co-workers (and North America's ecosystem). Since one of those lab buddies happens to be his brother, you'd think Clive would put his foot down to protect a sibling, if not his job or his foolish girlfriend. Nope. You'd also think they would start carrying anti-venom with them all the time, or remove that stinger. Nope again.

As the film progresses, Clive's brother finds the creature. They're forced to move to a new location. Elsa choses her family farm, which Clive didn't know she still owned. They take Dren, now looking like a small, ugly, bald adolescent girl. With a deadly tail and an ability to cling to walls and stuff. They padlock her inside the large barn. Does that sound like a safe place to keep a brand-new animal that might be terribly deadly? Does it sound like a place she might not be able to escape? Does it sound like a healthy environment for a child?

Elsa after it escapes to eat rabbit: She's a vegetarian. I can buy the parental denial

Please note that, by this point, Clive has seen Elsa's childhood bedroom. Kept "exactly the way it was," it's a prison cell with a bare mattress and exposed walls. This is clear evidence that Elsa was subjected to intense abuse and neglect. The audience is ahead of the game, learning early on that she used to have a sister.

How did Clive never learn about this? How did it take him this long to connect some dots? Wasn't he tipped off when Elsa completely dropped the science to play Mommy? Um, and why didn't he start actually talking to her about it?

Further still, note that the writer/director is almost ignoring the fact that this means that Elsa's trying to re-animate her sister through her "child."  Also, that people might be stuck in cycles of abuse, even til it corrupts their work.  Any "foster child" themes aren't served well, either.  And all of Elsa's work may be driven by her childhood abuse; that's sort of left unexplored, too.  At least "Splice" didn't forget the issue of parents who don't embrace parenthood.  That theme is played to the hilt, but then you see where it goes and it just gets worse...

For reasons that we'll never know, Dren has been showing emotions similar to animals, sometimes even like a human child. "Mom" and "Dad" are yelling at each other, but only Mom has ever reached out to her - she pounces on Daddy, sensing a threat. Mommy gets Dren to back down by shouting "No! No! Go to your place!" I'm fine with ignoring that they don't rethink their actions given this near-death. I might as well, since they ignore it themselves, and I now don't care if they all die horribly.

What I can't ignore is this pair of geniuses who never consider that Dren might have hormonal changes, just like a growing child. Somehow, they're not prepared at all for her to start acting like a rebellious teenager - a potentially deadly, willful, teenager. Tensions rise between the parents and the child, as well as between Clive and Elsa themselves. They reach out to each other, they reach out to her, and they truly start to seem like a family.

It's touching, even while Dren makes me want to throw up. So why did Clive and Elsa need to have sex when their kid's separated from them by twelve feet and a thin curtain? I'm no parent, but that sort of thing is not supposed to be healthy for children to see. Also, Dren might've thought Dad was killing Mommy, and so might've attacked him again. I guess this only happens so that we can see Dren seeing sex.

Looks like an easy enough girl to keep a handle on, right? Right?

In this, the "barn period" of Dren's life, we get more scenes that carry us through our little terror growing up. They're full of "subtle" metaphors for an angsty need for freedom. For a venemous near-person with no training on "not-killing?" Ugh! We know that she's emotional and affectionate. She's disturbingly intelligent, figuring out unusual words, as well as spelling. Dren's self-aware too - music is delightful, and mom gives her dresses and makeup(?!).

And then we come to character beats that completely break the already-tenuous emotional aspect of the story. On the female-side: a cat somehow enters the barn, yet isn't terrified by Dren. Elsa never notices 'til some indeterminate time later, then takes the pet away. She reverses herself (for no clear reason) and returns the feline to her kid. The evil little girl smiles wickedly and stings the cat. Elsa slaps Dren. Dren knocks mom down and nearly escapes. Elsa then goes completely bonkers; she becomes shockingly cruel.

She ties Dren down and cuts off that dress for no reason. Elsa uses the rags to harshly rub the makeup off her daughter's face - y'know, to make this all suck harder. This is Nutty McNuttystein, Scientist, in full "my mommy hurt me, now I hurt you" mode. After administering a local anesthetic, Elsa cuts out the stinger and "venom sacs" (huh? they never ran biopsies or x-rays).

The acts of torment aren't surprising. Elsa clearly carries deep childhood trauma, and she's acted like a nutter since the early scenes. It's just amazing that anyone put her in a position to do any of this. With such baggage, wouldn't she have killed Clive and acted out some inverse-Steven-King book by now? An earlier moment even suggested that Dren might cause the couple to turn on each other.

And yet the male-side emotional aspect-breaking moment manages to be even more astounding, melodramatic, and "wha?" : Clive's changing relationship with Dren. I actually don't mind that the pair grow incredibly close as the film goes on. I simply couldn't understand that he would have such strong objections and yet leave the thing alive at all.

The way that Dad and Daughter bond is perfectly-executed. But what does the story do with this changed relationship? That's where the wheels come off so hard, you wonder if anyone stuck them on the first place. The girl-thing is clearly becoming infatuated with her poppa. Perhaps biological development or emotional dependence or psychological seclusion is causing the attraction - this could be causing Dren to fight with Elsa!

But I don't care because the story tells me I shouldn't. Dren actually tries to kiss Clive, though we haven't seen her seeing a kiss, really. Clive stops her and resists. For half a second - then, preposterously, he starts having sex with his kid.

Is this burning an eternal flame? No, it's either venom or an STD.

There's a catastrophic implausibilty in Clive having sex with someone he's treated exactly like a daughter. It's so extreme, I can ignore the fact that he's having unprotected sex with a creature that might secrete poison everywhere.

The only thing more unbelievable than this incestuous act is that Clive goes for it - he caresses and deep-kisses this thing like it's the girl that got away in high school. My disbelief is no longer shaky, it's crashed into the ground at 90 miles per hour. I'm sure Adrien Brody is a horny, tongue-ramming old goat in real life, but how would Clive build up that much passion for an inhuman thing? For his own kid?

Of course, Elsa comes into the barn as they're in the middle of some utterly nauseating lovin'. It wouldn't be a movie unless that happened.

Events continue to spiral into chaos and stupidity, all the way to the confounding end. Since no one is prepared for that lethal sting, folks get killed. Yes, that stinger grew back, and no one noticed!

It seems that Elsa focused on the fact that her man was screwing their child; she ignored the deadly appendage that had regrown, becoming exposed and poised to attack during their sex scene. I'd like to think that if I were in the same situation, I'd notice the incest as well as the fact that it looks like Dren was about murder Clive mid-coitus.

This carnival of the dumb leads us to another rare scene that is somewhat nifty : Clive catching up to Elsa at their apartment (they didn't sell it for magic beans?). After the awkward "hi. uhhh...," Clive gets all think-y and talk-y. "You never wanted a normal child. Because then you could be in control." Bingo! Why weren't you saying this when you saw her cradling a deadly puppy-chicken-scorpion thing that could've killed you in an instant!

I don't know makeup, but I think "concealer" isn't up to the task, Elsa.

The actors' one-on-one conversations have, for a while now, been very much like a mad dream. Or, perhaps, like people who've had half of their lines edited from the film - the half that made the other half make sense. As if it to render this whole "Splice" experience more absurd, now is the time that Polley and Adrien get to act in another exchange that actually sounds like people dealing with each other. The parenthood aspect of the movie just keeps looming large - "We screwed this up from the start! We put a leash on her! We locked her away!"

These emotional turns sound thematically appropriate (parenthood, right? this time, 'cause science went bonkers, right?) and different. They're also quietly hysterical, suggesting that they could've raised Dren better - not that they never should have let her grow past that chicken stage in the first place. Or that they considered the issues in introducing a new life form to mankind, and vice versa...

Emotions are flung across the room, and the parents seem to recommit to their family. Clive's incest/cheating/damnable-stupidity are, basically, dropped from the rest of the running time. I assume the story needs Clive to reach the next part of the movie with his relationship reasonably intact, no matter the odds or the realities ignored. Why? The plot required C & E to be together for the end...

They return to the barn together - immediately after their talk, it seems. Why? "The plot required it," is, again, my best guess. But their freaky, screwed-up, dangerous little Dren is dying. Why? No reason is given; in sci-fi and horror, anything the writers can't create smoothly can be "magicked" into the story. There's no way to save her, apparently, and they're totally certain of this - again without running tests, x-rays... Why?

Same as the last answer, presumably... but inside my head, I joked that they wanted her to die so they could forget Clive when he passionately screwed Dren. It's all ending now, and the kid is pain. Yet there's no lethal injection to end her sad and weird life.

Scientists might actually kill test subjects when they're clearly dying and no more data will be gained by slow death. I have to believe it's (at least) considered sometimes, right? Parents might even grapple with this issue in cases where all hope is gone. It would make sense to end the suffering, but I guess it's too late to start making sense now. Mom and Dad sit with Dren, watching her shiver and moan until she stops moving.

In keeping with the change that killed the slug-things, Dren soon jumps out of the grave they left her in. And now it's an angry male! The brother and a mid-level boss have found the barn, because... "bodycount" and "tension," I guess. Since science was ditched so early on, I'm not shocked that Clive and Elsa were surprised by this. They never bought stock in an anti-venom company, either; nor do they keep it around during barn-time.

Dren starts flying and screeching. He/it/she/ugh don't try to fly away, to be free. I didn't bother mentioning that Dren sprouted wings during their truly (seriously) heart-warming coming-together-as-a-family scene. I didn't bother because Dren never actually got to fly afterward(lives in a barn, right?) - yet she's soaring and swooping and picking people off like the RAF saving London. She was an "unusual" wing design, and never actually got to learn or practice flight.

Even Hawkman after tequila shots won't date this.

Shortly, it's down to the two leads. They never equipped Dren with a tracker, and they're not running away even without a means to defend themselves. Why? Because, "I can't leave my brother." The one who disappeared and isn't making noise anymore. Internally, I wonder if they could've called this, "Splice: Dumb to the Bone," or "Splice: Stupidity is Nurture, Murder is Nature."

Dren pounces on Mommy and utters her only line, "inside... you," (aw, her first words). Then it proceeds to rape Elsa. Of course! My inner egalitarian/feminist is in a coma; I just want this over. For some reason, female hormones didn't make Dren get hyper-aggressive or rape her Dad - think of all those passive female lions and spiders and... - yet male hormones made it lose all prior semblance of humanity.

At this point, my brain also can't grasp how quickly this happens, since Elsa was wearing jeans and Dren shouldn't be able to remove denim from a struggling person. I've had this feeling for so long now; this movie needs a ton of additional moments to justify the absurd turns that happen. Everything feels like it comes out of left field - and so nothing matters at all anymore! Whatever. The plot apparently requires Elsa to get raped by the creature, so it's happening on-screen now. Thank god this isn't "Dragon Tattoo," because the tangle and brief lines and "huh?" action must take 14 seconds.

Clive then comes to Elsa's rescue, if too late. Using his scientific mastery, he finds a large pointy tree branch and shoves it straight through Dren's midsection. The end! I'm so relieved. On a person, this would sever the spine, possibly hitting the heart (but definitely lungs or major blood vessels) on the way through. Impalement stops the monster... which then moves toward pops and starts to fight back like nothing's particularly wrong.

Dren/it/her/chocobo is now on top of Clive. Mercifully, it's just going to kill him, not rape him too. "Moms" gets a big rock - gotta love this high-tech fight - and is about to smash the raping, murdering offspring's skull. Elsa pauses. Why? I guess because this stupid plot requires it.

Dren uses this moment to sting Daddy, who promptly dies because "no anti-venom," I guess. Elsa smashes Dren's head. I don't know much about rape (thank heaven), but I can't imagine a victim blinking in this situation.

9 out of 10 horror characters die in this situation.

The closing scene - you can see it coming, it's like a lighthouse beacon - takes place between the Nerd boss and Elsa. We hear that many brand new chemicals were found in Dren's corpse (funny how her scientist "parents/creators" never... oh #%$^!). We also hear about "phase 2"(more like phase 12 now). It must be a hard decision for Elsa, no one could blame her for bailing, she'll be well-compensated... A check is signed and shown to Elsa, who rises to reveal her baby bump!

Her final dumb, bs, cataclysmic choice : Elsa will carry whatever is inside her, for cash and science. I'm guessing it's a litter and they'll probably rip her apart from the inside. I truly don't care. Anything could happen - Adrien could morph out of the floor itself. He'd probably have a tail and start making it with the Nerd Boss; then become a woman too. Some lingering sense of logic in me notes that since they grew Dren in an artificial womb, Elsa doesn't need to actually bear these hell-spawn to term. Not at all. Again, whatever.

As a last glimmer of the beautiful film I'd hoped to see, the French boss-lady of Nerd stands behind Elsa at the window. She's holding her employee's shoulders (for emotional support?). The image changes to become a silhouette, and your eyes are fixed on the shadows of Elsa and her boss. Overlooking a lovely skyline, in the beautiful apartment the family never moved into, it looks like Clive and Elsa standing together. The shadows deepen as the screen goes black. The film finally ends. Somehow, I've utterly wasted my time.

That isn't rising passion; it's rising nausea.

I can't I wish there were more science in "Splice." I don't, but the fact that the leads are technological wizards? The story does not jibe with this at all. Science receives almost no follow-through in the tale. Super-geniuses would have studied the creature a lot, probably dissecting it early on. Even after turning into full-time parents, these pioneers would want to know every little thing going on inside it. That might pose some real questions about Family - it could comment on the intrusiveness of elders. When everything goes wrong, we would consider this influence on that hell-spawn bio-chimera.

Other options existed - the plot progressions in "Splice" might work if Dren escaped the lab (duh). A barren couple could find the creature, making dumb-ass mistakes because they don't realize this thing could be anything. They also wouldn't have seen it use that tail to nearly insta-kill a loved one. The audience gets an annoyingly-convenient narrative. Things don't happen because people do "X" sometimes. I think they only happen because the plot needs to reach the setup for the next scene.

I also can't wish that "Splice" ignored the theme of parenthood. That idea, and weaving it into the whole story, was actually good! Yet the emotional arcs and behavior of the cast are really beyond the pale. Every character moment elicits reactions like "No," "I can't believe that," "I don't buy this," and, "Am I supposed to accept that?"

It would've made more sense if they'd bred several Drens, killing and studying them. Our leads, possibly more successful than ever, would realizing that their cash cow/dream experiment could grow into a humanoid with real thoughts and feelings and intellect. Sounds like two a story about two scientists, doesn't it? Such a plot would've caused emotional complications, too. Clive and Elsa would feel guilty, right? They slaughtered dozens of things for study, things that can become incredibly human! Now, the murderous "mom" and "dad" have to deal with one and it's actually becoming something like a person...

I'm suggesting ideas that would invoke all the elements in the basic premise. I'm keeping to the themes suggested by the initial hype-blurb, the director's background, and the basic plot description. This clearly calls up questions about what makes humans human, what is right and wrong, scientific ambition clashing with public safety. My alternatives do a good job of invoking issues with science in general, I feel. They easily apply to future science and real-life animal testing. Little modifications could also help this movie connect to the food industry, environmental preservation, public oversight of corporate r&d.

I have just watched people say "yes!" "no!" followed by "yes!" winning for some reason. Imagine a story about the US' development of the first a-bomb. For whatever reason, this picture chose to show us what happens when Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer decide to play soccer with their recent miracle. They did this just to see if... just to find out what came next. After 3 matches, they got a whole team together, but decided to all take turns hitting the new device with hammers. Just 'cause. They argue with each other a lot, but not to any particular effect.

I knew I would have to see this movie from the moment I heard about it. A little blurb on told me who was directing and starring in it - it also showed a picture of the creature and gave a brief plot description. I was sold immediately, avoiding any new info thereafter. "Splice" came out, but plans to see it fell through, repeatedly . On the afternoon of Thursday the 15th, I realized it would leave NYC-area theaters that same night. I saw this at 10pm, after work, by myself, and I would've traveled a bit to do it.

I know that under any circumstances - with no buzz or expectations, on opening night, with friends, on a mid-week vacation - I'd still be disappointed in this movie. I am required to feel stung by everything but the visuals and the premise.

Musical comedies never have posters like this. But they should

"Splice" had great potential. Yet after the opening, I was left with a series of beautiful images that conveyed senseless actions, emotional turns, and choices. I can't say they wasted my money, but they did waste my time. I wish I'd just invented a story for the premise; I could tell it to myself while falling asleep. I respect the effort made by everyone involved, even though I can't understand how it got by Mr. Natali.

Somehow, the director didn't realize that all these weird twists would need a lot more foundation to hold up. I saw a house of cards that didn't stand for 10 seconds, or even take shape. It's not that I can't see Adrien Brody having sex with inhuman things - he looks like he could do that in real life. I just can't see Karl developing any strong passion for Dren. Or being so irresponsible with Elsa, his brother's life, his psuedo-kid's life... I can't buy into anything that happens, really. This is "WTF: The Movie."

I'm done with this picture - forever, I hope. I'm off to see "Inception."

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