Saturday, June 5, 2010

SPLICE / ***½

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 4, 2010
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror
Running Time: 104 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

First off, I’d like to kill the strange rumors that this film is in any way some version of “Species.” The creature on the poster isn’t even an alien, and the plot lines are not even a little bit similar.

That being said, “Splice” is a surprisingly excellent psychological drama / thriller. Director Vincenzo Natali and his stars, Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley bring emotional depth to characters with a touch of camp, which is a very difficult balance to strike.

Brody and Polley play Clive and Elsa, two brash scientists (also a couple) experimenting with gene splicing, which combines DNA from several organisms in order to create an entirely new one. The very idea of humans manipulating DNA brings up scores of moral and ethical questions, and the screenplay by Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, and Doug Taylor doesn’t shy away from any of them.

Like most young couples without children, the subject seems to come up often between Elsa and Clive. Meanwhile, Elsa decides to run her own experiment, and quickly becomes attached to the creature, who she names Dren. Clive is wary of Dren, but Elsa convinces him that they can learn so much from Dren that they need to keep her alive, and thus, need to keep her a secret.

Elsa develops a nurturing, mothering relationship with Dren (played as an “adult” by Delphine Chanéac). Clive tries to keep his distance at first, but as Dren becomes more human-like she becomes harder to ignore. The film takes a few bizarre turns that I’ve heard described by others as “over the top” or something to that effect, but the logic (within the universe of the movie, of course), is there, and the performances make them work.

“Splice” is a pleasant summer surprise, a movie much smarter than the advertising would lead you to believe. Take a chance on this one.

Theater: RDM Westroads 14, Omaha, Nebraska
Time: 145 am (quality check)
Date: June 1, 2010

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