The video game industry is one awesome profitable industry. It’s funny when you think about it, since the industry started with games like “Space Invaders” and the dawn of the Sega Genesis. Capcom’s “Resident Evil” and “Street Fighter” have spawned several mainstream movies in its wake, Akklaim also with the “Mortal Kombat” franchise. Now, EA’s science fiction survival horror game “DEAD SPACE” is a marketing giant in itself, and studios have come up with a prequel of sorts in the form of “DEADSPACE: DOWNFALL”. Those who have played the game is no doubt familiar with its violent, brutality and bloody nature. I haven’t played the game, but this film certainly has made me wish I had.
In a remote planet colony of Aegis, the mining ship USG Ishimura is summoned to tow an ancient alien artifact and a human colony. A large hole is cut in the ground and the huge artifact is taken aboard the ship. But before the ship becomes en-route to its coordinates, strange things begin to happen in the planet below. People begin to lose control of their actions, mutilating themselves and killing one another in a flurry of gruesome deaths. There appears to be an alien force behind all this, a mysterious alien race came along the artifact for the ride. They kill, and mutate their victims into mutated killers that wish to feed on human flesh. The captain of the Ishimura is adamant on bringing the artifact to Earth and such a move can bring major disaster. Alyssa Vincent (voiced by Nika Futterman) is the ship’s security chief and serves as the only reasonable person amid all the madness. She and her team of crack mercenaries are the only hope for the remaining crew of the Ishimura as they blast the mutated zombies with guns, laser pick axs and saws. But it may already be too late…
“Deadspace: Downfall” is one film that relies on its best assets to deliver on its entertainment value. The film itself feels a small part of a rather huge whole, offering very little characterization and the qualities of the mysterious artifact is only mildly touched upon. The film also hints at certain religious misconceptions and human error. The premise of a crew stuck in space with an alien menace have been done before by movies such as “Alien” and “Event Horizon”. While the film offers little new, what makes it succeed is the manner of which it unfolds, with certain scenes of action and gore nicely placed throughout the screenplay to deliver an intense atmosphere.
Ok, so the film is animated and the gore scenes can’t look all that real right? Well, being animated, the film does have its weaknesses in delivering its blood and gore factor. Even with its nicely done animation, the film’s bloody scenes may look rather gross, but cannot really compare to the awesome gross-out factor of a live-action film. To compensate, the film’s violence is actually on overdrive, as we see mutilated limbs, entrails being devoured, sliced heads, decapitations, essentially, no one is left unscathed. The film is flashy, and brutally violent; it is definitely not for the faint of heart--the film is an unrelenting bloodbath.
There was one scene when a religious man named Irons made himself a decoy for others to get away. It was a practice in pure courageous sacrifice that gave the film some emotional impact. It may seem contrived at first, but the director Chuck Patton managed to play out the scene very well. The characters may lack very little characterization, but what little development there may be is seen in its violent encounters. The adage “action speaks louder than words” comes to mind, I had no difficulty connecting with the protagonists as I see them fight for their lives. The film is also full of creepy atmosphere, and has that touch of simplicity which I liked. It was also paced well, and its 75 minute run time provides the intense but breezy experience needed to keep the screenplay compact. Going a little longer may make the film a little repetitive, I was happy to see its direction practice a sense of restraint.
While the film isn’t without its faults, the weak plot development may seem a little contrived at times and some of the motivations weren’t fully fleshed out; I found the film quite enjoyable for a direct to dvd movie. I know that this was meant as a background for the game, and a small part of a whole, and I am sure those who played the game can make better sense of its storyline. I am pretty sure that fans of the game would no doubt be interested, heck, it made me curious as to what the game is about.
“Dead Space: Downfall” will not become a classic but it makes use of its best assets to the maximum in narrative. The kill scenes were quite inventive and violent, and the action more than compensates for its weaknesses. It may be feel a little empty if you are unfamiliar with its source material but I guess I’m just happy to see American studios going over the stereotype that cartoons are all meant for kids. The film channels the best its got quite well, I found it very entertaining.
Recommended! Timidly. [3 ½ Stars]
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Dead Space: Downfall is an animated movie, a prequel to the events of the game Dead Space and takes place after Dead Space: Extraction, taking place while the Necromorphs invade the USG Ishimura after it receives the Red Marker. The movie, developed by Film Roman and EA, was released on DVD October 28, 2008 and broadcast on the Syfy Channel on December 2, 2008.