By: Eric Palmer
We'll often times ignore a critic's advice and check out a film for ourselves. We think that maybe they've missed something or they're pretentious. Films like "Fight Club," "Big Lebowski" and "Moulin Rouge!" were condemned by many critics but have found late life praise for their originality. SPLICE is not one of those instances. This film is crap.
Let's start with the plot, which already throws a red flag. This is the type of film that could have gone one of two ways- a creepy thriller about the moral complexities of genetic engineering, or a SyFy original about a killer amphibious humanoid on the loose.
SPLICE goes the latter route. Only its not campy and entertaining in the way an Android Apocalypse or Mansquito could possibly be. It thinks its raising Important Issues. Yes, it's one of THOSE films.
SPLICE tells the story of two hotshot biochemists who ignore pleas from their lab and secretly go through with splicing animal and human DNA. They hope the resulting creature's genetic makeup might yield new medicines (and shoot them to science stardom in the process). Of course, things don't go exactly as they hope.
The tense and dark first half gives nods to tone, pace and even some imagery of Ridley Scott's Alien or a Cronenberg film. I couldn't wait to see the hideous mutant, soon to evolve, that you KNOW would want to get its comeuppance. With a director like Scott or Cronenberg at the helm, the film would have surely continued the sense of menace this provocative premise promised.
Instead, writer-director Vincenzo Natali gives us an. . . . ACTOR. The LAST thing we want. The creature evolves into a bald, dancing teenage mutant with CGI chicken legs and a stinging tail named Dren. We're meant to sympathize with and yearn for an ACTOR portraying the creature's development of FEELINGS. . . . and raging hormones. Dren throws teenage temper tantrums (and not in a cool, destructive movie monster way) and, of course, yearns to. . . . love. Give me a break. (This includes SEXUAL feelings, by the way, in the film's TWO (!!) ridiculous Jump the Shark moments)
The only serviceable performance comes from Sarah Polley, who juggles a range of emotion that her troubled character goes through. But by the time her character is raped in the climax by the creature (Don't ask.), you wonder how she ever got involved? Adrien Brody plays a weak and pitiful character which makes you unable to care about a single person in the film. The actors playing Dren are so frustratingly awful that it makes me type hard as I write this sentence. Their acting range is so limited, all we really get are the facial expressions of a confused toddler. When we finally get to the unsatisfying rampage climax, you're done waiting for it to deliver, and of course, it doesn't.
Whatever you do, avoid this stinker at all costs. This isn't "Batman Forever," a bad film that's entertaining nonetheless. This is "Batman and Robin," a complete waste of time. But at least you are spared the Creature's First Dance Sequence (in 360 degree POV slow motion, of course) on that one.