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A rather spectacular thunderstorm this morning. Now it's cloudy, and cooler than it's been lately.

As for my mood, it has improved. I suspect I just needed a day away from the story. I'd been hammering at it for eight days straight. Hopefully, when I go back to it today, things will make more sense. I can only hope that eight days from now, it's finished.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, if you've not already. Thanks.

So, yes, yesterday we saw Vincenzo Natali's Splice. I'd hoped that it would be an important science-fiction film, something on a par with, say, last year's District 9 or Moon. Certainly, it had that potential, but it's a potential that's never quite realized. Somewhere near the middle, the film is almost brilliant, but the ending devolves into monster-movie antics, which are fine, if all you are hoping for is a scary monster movie. But this is a film that is, at least ostensibly, about the responsibilities of science and scientists, about the blurring the line between research and commerce, about the ethics and perils of creating genetically engineered hybrids, chimeras, and parahumans, and about making contact with a genuinely alien intelligence (even if the "alien" was created on Earth). You stack these issues into a film, and I expect it to be a little bit smarter. Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody do the best they can with the script. Delphine Chanéac is amazing as Dren. The creature effects are superb. Dren is undoubtedly one of the most amazing creatures ever brought to the screen. And the film is, despite its flaws, often very effective. For the most part, it's an interesting retelling of Frankenstein, and one that understands that Victor's greatest sin was not "playing god," but failing to be a good parent. And still, that ending blows the show, and I'm left wondering at the film Splice might have been if it had taken a few more chances. I don't expect it to last long in the theaters. It's too weird to appeal to most, but not quite weird enough to be brilliant. A disappointment, but still a disappointment well worth seeing.

I keep meaning to write about the ongoing horror in the Gulf of Mexico. I feel like I should be using the blog to write about nothing else. But every time I try, I back away. This thing is too big, and I know if I ever do start talking about it, I'm going to piss off pretty much everyone, because none of us is truly innocent of this crime, and I fear that's something no one wants to hear.

Comments

( 16 comments — Have your say! )
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)

Now, my question is, do you think this is a problem of directorial vision versus studio sales projections? I know that's not something easily gauged, but do you think a Director's Cut might solve some of the problems?

It's hard to imagine a director's cut could fix this. It would mean a reworking on the last half hour of the film.

As for whether this was the director's failing or the result of pressure from the studio, well, there's no way to know that yet.
seph_ski
Jun. 5th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
The oil spill has me strangely tongue-tied too. I feel I could rant forever on it, and every photo of oily marine life I see makes me upset enough to feel physically ill, but I just can't seem to find the words appropriate for the level of devastation, so I say very little at all. It boils inside me all day, every day though.

I saw a comedian say, given the mess in the Gulf, every time he sees someone in the grocery loading their cart up with bottled water, he wants to punch them in the neck. I don't know if he was just trying to be funny, but I really do feel that way. I feel dirty when I need something that comes in plastic or comes from a great distance. Maybe, if it's even possible for anything good to come of this mess (and I doubt it), more people will be more aware than ever of what and how much they consume.

A disappointment, but still a disappointment well worth seeing.


I'm so glad to hear it's still worth seeing. I'm having a tough weekend and the only thing I've been looking forward to is sitting in a dark and mostly deserted theater, and blocking out the world for a bit with a little new science-fiction.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)

I feel dirty when I need something that comes in plastic or comes from a great distance.

This is a sane reaction.

Maybe, if it's even possible for anything good to come of this mess (and I doubt it), more people will be more aware than ever of what and how much they consume.

I wish I believed this would lead to anything good, to any substantive change. But I don't. Too many people have too much invested in everything staying just the way it is, no matter how many cataclysms it costs the world.
layangabi
Jun. 5th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
Victor's greatest sin was not "playing god," but failing to be a good parent.

I really, really wish I could bring myself to see Splice, because I loved the concept of Dren, and I loved that the film and its director understood this about the Frankenstein story and made it about a mother and daughter. But as to how it ends (which I am very glad I found out about, because I can't bring myself to sit through that), and what Cat Valente said about the story leaving nothing about Dren except the horrible things she did, without context or explanation? Yeeeeah.

And I find I can't stop ranting about this. Disappointment makes me a ranty mcmuffin. Because I loved the concept and it kills me that it was handled the way it was.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
what Cat Valente said about the story leaving nothing about Dren except the horrible things she did, without context or explanation?

Thing is...I'm not sure that's true. Certainly, the film fails to take full advantage of the opportunity to explore the character, and to try and understand the character. But I don't think it's fair say the film's entirely devoid of any attempt to communicate to the audience the motivations behind Dren's actions. If that were true, the whole Frankenstein thing would never have shown through so clearly. It's clear that Dren is confused, angry, reacting to abuse, acting on her/his own distinctly inhuman biological urges, and so forth. It's just all that gets lost at the end.

Edited at 2010-06-05 07:16 pm (UTC)
mellawyrden
Jun. 5th, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
I look around me every day and see nothing but plastics... from the objects in my purse, my refridgerator (including the refridgerator itself), and my medicine cabinet, to the signs on stores, traffic lights, air conditioning, beauty related products... I think our society would not exist as we know it without plastics, which come from the oil industry. We can try to counterbalance this consumption by re-using what we have, recycling etc. The oil well in the Gulf was there in the first place because there's a demand for crude oil to supply us with all of our everyday needs. But the average person doesn't have the resources to go down and make the blown-out well stop leaking oil. It's in the power of the super-rich to do this and I'm panicking because none of them is accomplishing the work. What's in it for them to leave things like this? I wish you would write about your opinion concerning the gulf spill. It's eerily quiet & upsetting. i think the silence is because we all know this is the end of the world.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)

i think the silence is because we all know this is the end of the world.

I think you're right. Though, we're talking "not with a bang, but a whimper." This is another nail in the coffin.

I wish you would write about your opinion concerning the gulf spill. It's eerily quiet & upsetting.

I'm trying. But between the daunting process of putting my thoughts on the matter into words, and the dread of having to hear the chorus of offended idiots, it's hard to bring myself to do it. I am tired.

I think our society would not exist as we know it without plastics, which come from the oil industry. We can try to counterbalance this consumption by re-using what we have, recycling etc.

Recycling and reuse will never solve the problem. Recycling is rarely efficient and reuse leads to increased exposure to toxicity from outgasing. The only solution is the radically scale back our plastic consumption, using plastic only when necessary, when another material will not suffice.
derekcfpegritz
Jun. 5th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
I found Splice to have a bare handful of intriguing moments, but for the most part it was little more than a SyFy Channel Original movie with slightly better FX. I liked it better the first time I saw it, when it was called Species and the bioneered chick was hotter. Dren just looked like Björk with a tail.*

The thing that bothered me most about the script was how clumsily the science was handled. I know, I know, the science isn't exactly relevant to the story, but still...even I in Pulp Mode find it hard to swallow the idea that you could just mix up a bowl of various genes from different species, pour the batter into an autowomb, and have a completely viable new species of abhuman kickin' around the lab in a day or two. If it was that easy, I'd have a friggin' army of casowary/human Velociraptor Soldiers cookin' in my basement right now.

*That said, I think Björk might very well have a tail in real life. She just...looks like she ought to have one.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 5th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
The thing that bothered me most about the script was how clumsily the science was handled. I know, I know, the science isn't exactly relevant to the story, but still...even I in Pulp Mode find it hard to swallow the idea that you could just mix up a bowl of various genes from different species, pour the batter into an autowomb, and have a completely viable new species of abhuman kickin' around the lab in a day or two.

Yes, the science was often ridiculous. I just didn't see the point in harping on the obvious. You might as well complain about the science in Frankenstein.

I liked it better the first time I saw it, when it was called Species and the bioneered chick was hotter.

Though there are notable parallels between Species and Splice, the latter is an infinitely better film, on every level.

Edited at 2010-06-05 11:11 pm (UTC)
derekcfpegritz
Jun. 6th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
My only real issue with Splice is that it had so much potential for dealing with the rights and responsibilities human bioneers must face when interacting with sapient chimeras...but every time it brought up one of those moments, it disposed of them in a quick little soundbite of hackneyed dialogue (i.e., "It's not an experiment...it's a mistake"). You can still have monster chase scenes and interspecies nookie and offer a more in-depth film...unless, of course, you're dealing with Hollywood. Splice would've made a much finer sci-fi novel by, say, Dan Simmons or Octavia Butler--authors who have experience in handling such material--but, instead, we get Adrien Brody poking Uplift Björk.

Still, you're right: Splice is handled a lot better than Species--but Natasha Henstridge is a few thousand times hotter than...that French chick who played Dren. Natasha Henstridge, though, did not have a tail and prehensile feet, which are always things I look for in a woman.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 6th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)

It had so much potential for dealing with the rights and responsibilities human bioneers must face when interacting with sapient chimeras...but every time it brought up one of those moments, it disposed of them in a quick little soundbite of hackneyed dialogue (i.e., "It's not an experiment...it's a mistake").

Yes. This was the central problem. The script was, for the most part, atrocious.

But I just never saw Natasha Henstridge's appeal.
derekcfpegritz
Jun. 6th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
She is one of maybe five blonde women on Earth I find attractive. Not sure why....I think it's the dorsal spines, actually.
spiritualmonkey
Jun. 6th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
It's my opinion that whenever an otherwise decent movie takes a shitty nosedive in the 3rd act, that's the effect of some executive with his name on a studio parking spot saying "I think the movie needs X GRATUITOUS, LOW-ROAD, HIGH-VOLUME SPECTACLE at this point, and dammit I'm the money!" to put their stamp and the project.

Because then they're a filmmaker, and not just some corporate executive engaging in the unglamorous aspects of an other glamorous industry.

I try to pinpoint the moment when the pinhead with juice made their move, and turn the movie off and make up and ending from there, because whatever you come up with will be better than the drek that made it on screen.

Roadhouse: Patrick Swayze rips out the guys throat and floats his body downstream, turn it off at that point and make up your own ending.

Strange Days: Ralph Feines holds up a tie in the mirror and says "Does this tie go with this shirt?", turn it off and make up your own ending.

Sounds like Splice may have fallen prey to some silk-suited trog grumbling "We need an action sequence to finish this baby out!"
robyn_ma
Jun. 7th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
Splice fucking devastated me.
kimberlyfdr
Jun. 7th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
My review of Splice went live on Fandomania today:

http://fandomania.com/movie-review-splice/

I have always been a fan of Vincezo, so after waiting 10 years for his vision to come to screen, I was definitely pleased (albeit, uncomfortable in a number of scenes). There are a number of viewers who are rageful against the film, but I feel like they're doing the movie a disservice. As a fellow reviewer said, "I don't think people are offended by what they assume offends them in Splice, but by something else." The audience is being led down the path of the characters and abiding their decisions along the way and then feeling guilty when an outside POV shows how far down the dark path they've actually been led without them objecting beforehand.
(Deleted comment)
kimberlyfdr
Jun. 9th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Speaking for myself, not Caitlín...
I agree that there was much much about Elsa's past that was left unexplored. I would have liked to know more of what happened in her past, above and beyond the hints we got from the state of her room.
( 16 comments — Have your say! )