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Race to clone and manipulate DNA an interesting Pandora’s Box

I  have recently had a glimpse into the work of filmmaking and it is crazy hours and a lot of planning and meetings and the minutae of  fuss budgetting and things of that nature.
Imagine the collaborative effort of the producers of Splice, a Canadian sci-fi extravaganza starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, directed by Vincenzo Natali. This is a very strong pedigree. Brody won an academy award for Best Actor, Polley is a celebrated Canadian actress who also directs and produces and Natalli won critical acclaim for The Cube from some years back.
The film has an interesting concept.
What is life, what defines humanity, where do we draw the line? I thought Splice would be a little weird and bordering on horror. The preview made it look like a horror flick, although it really is closer to sci-fi with a nice mix of romance.
At first glance.
It does give us a bit of a peek behind the scientific curtain that is the multi-billion dollar industry of genetic engineering. The race to clone and manipulate DNA and all of those things is a Pandora’s Box of patents and copyrights and potentially billions of dollars.
It would be easy to make a case for our society hurtling toward some kind of Orwellian dystopia or worse. Third world countries and the old communist regimes routinely have a trade in stolen organs and I’m sure some producer on the Jerry Springer show is putting together a I-sold-my-cousins-kidney episode. We are trying to live to 200 and money talks.
So, we have this nice little movie that earnestly wants to examine all these issues.
There’s a convenient relationship between Elsa (Polley) and Clive (Brody) and the science seems solid.
They come up with a way to make their own little cloneborg, and despite working for a monster corporation they manage to secret her off to an old barn where they keep her locked up. Of course, despite the warning label on every sci-fi movie Elsa (Polley) using her own egg to mix in and let me tell you boys and girls, that never ends well.
So, what starts as a blob grows into something that is part girl, part animal, part nasty blob, with wings and a rage and fully-articulated naughty bits. More on that in a minute.
I have this theory. The idea for this movie came from a couple of nerds sitting around after an especially rigorous game of Magic going, “man, we could get good looking chicks too, if we could make them” The company Elsa and Clive work for is call N.E.R.D. and they name their little blobigy Dren which is nerd backwards.
This is Weird Science for the Dungeons and Dragons set.
Splice is an interesting concept and a good movie but something happens that hijacks all the work of the producers director, writers and actors.
At one point, Clive notices that Dren is ummmmm, errrrr, well, developed. At this point the movie entertains a whole other kind of what’s human and what isn’t debate. It’s beyond odd and then Elsa comes to the barn and observes them and there is this sustained seems like 10 minute reaction shot on her face as she watches Clive make Dren his intern, so to speak.
I suppose this is a natural part of the story arc in someone else’s universe but it just caused the audience to break out into riotous laughter. When Elsa tells Clive there are just some things you don’t do, it restarts that hilarity. I’m sure that was not the intent of the creators. Oops. For the record, the laughter broke out in spatters for the next 20 minutes of the film as people had flashbacks of that scene.
It just totally defeats the integrity of the film.
Later on, when Dren turns into a dude and the film morphs into Rosemary’s Baby meets It’s Alive, it just gets goofy.
The Canadian film business is strong and vibrant and maybe your audience won’t see the humour, but the first weekend brought an awful lot of Oh Come On moments in audiences around Toronto and Kingston.
It really is funny, although I wouldn’t recommend seeing it for that reason. Well, maybe. It really is laugh out loud funny.
So, in closing, let me just remind the boys and girls. Never use your own eggs to mix with mutant DNA strains, and kids, never ever never get biblical with your science project. Ah the limitations of  family movie review.
Splice is unlike anything I’ve seen in awhile and I think that’s a good thing. As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul.

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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