You know what scares me about the thought of genetically engineered food? The probability that they'll design something that looks great, tastes reasonably good but totally lacks nutritional value because in their scientific hubris they just THINK they understand what it's all about. What's that got to do with GATTACA you ask? Well it makes me think of something I read in another review of the film, about how all the characters are emotionless and unengaging. Maybe that's a side effect of science's incomplete understanding of what genetics is really all about--in the process of fiddling around with their designer babies they came up with the ubermensch alright but they misplaced the emotions and personality along the way just as they did with the nutritional value in the food. Probably not in the script or anything, just something that occurred to me.
So anyhow, GATTACA takes place in a future world where parents have the option of being able to select their baby's traits--of creating from their own genetic pool the best possible them, and who (besides me) wouldn't want to do that? Vincent is his parents' first born son and within seconds of his birth they learn that he's loaded with defects including a bummer of a heart that practically guarantees he's gonna keel over before he hits the age of 30. They don't make that mistake with their second son Anton. Prejudice against those who were conceived naturally has reached such predictable proportions that the best they can expect from life is literally to be following the parade with a shovel and a broom. But Vincent dreams of becoming an astronaut, an obvious impossibility given his defects. He and all naturals are termed "InValids" which struck me as amusingly close to the word invalid. Finally the day comes when Vincent gets as mad as hell and decides he isn't going to take it anymore and (in a manner that is never revealed) he contacts a man who brokers identity sales between Valids and InValids so that he can literally become a new man and pursue his dream by getting a job with a privatized version of NASA, the titular Gattaca. It ain't easy for him either, he's a couple of inches too short to pass for Jerome (the Valid he's buying) even with lifts in his shoes so he undergoes home stretching surgery on his leg bones--talk about commitment!
But enough of the plot, let's talk about what's good and what's not. On the plus side we have a movie that's actually dealing with ideas for a change. Not a single explosion in the whole flick, although there are a couple of punches thrown and a chase down an alley. Wanting to make sure your little Astrid has Barbie boobs sounds innocent on the surface but it's a tricky slope and the kind of folks who want Astrid to have the Barbie boobs in the first place probably aren't considering where that might lead us all. It's a message that does need to be presented in plain English. Trashcanman wrote in his review that the flick talks down to us and beats us over the head with it's message, I didn't feel this to be true at all. Nor did I feel that it suffered from STAR TREK disease. That's when Kirk would inevitably proove that raw human emotion was better than using your intelligence or applying logical reasoning. Trashie implies the equivalent here is that every flawed human being was being patted on the back and told that we're all perfect just the way we are. I believe it's a far more qualified message than that more along the lines of; some people if the work their ass off can accomplish things they are not supposed to be able to do. Okay, what else is good. I liked the fact that the real Jerome was right, that everyone trusted their testing system so completely that they never really SAW Vincent when they looked at him--in spite of only a vague superficial resemblance everyone saw who they expected to see. BIG SPOILER even the head detective who was Vincent's own brother didn't "see" him until the very end of the movie. He saw the man he was supposed to see--Jerome! How screwed up is that?
But now to the one really screwed up aspect of the film that I'm surprised didn't bother Trashie at all. If InValids were believed to be so inferior and so incapable of doing the kind of work that was being done at Gattaca, why was it even necessary to screen for them with all these tests all the time? Their own inferiority would have given them away.
Not much of a smackdown I'm afraid but it's all I've got. It's a 4 star movie with a musical score that just sucked eggs so badly that I can't believe I never noticed it before.