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Smackdown, Where is Thy Bite?

  • Sep 28, 2009
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.
Smackdown, Where is Thy Bite? Smackdown, Where is Thy Bite? Smackdown, Where is Thy Bite? Smackdown, Where is Thy Bite? Smackdown, Where is Thy Bite?

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May 01, 2010
After seeing this:


what more can be said?

Montalban Mouse KHAN!!!
May 05, 2010
The most interesting part was the increased aggression. Like we really need that.
October 05, 2009
Great Review! I really liked this film for its ideas and its execution and you nicely summarize both.
October 05, 2009
Thanks. I liked it too, and I didn't think it talked down to it's audience as Trashie suggested. Of course there are so many really insulting "science fiction" flix out there that it's a relief to see anything that's treats you as if you have even a modicum of intelligence  and I can be overly grateful when I encounter one.
September 30, 2009
Wow, you guys are certainly serious about movie and movie reviews :D I watched a movie and it's only the emotional part of it that I take away with me. I'm not so sure if I'd like to read a review before I go watch a movie though. Same for travel. I tried to read only facts, not travel stories or blogs before I go to a place. Anyhow, if I ever spend as much time as you on movies, I wouldn't have time for anything else ;-)
September 30, 2009
I'm NOT doing much else these days. I don't know anyone in this are and I don't have enough money to trave--thus I watch a LOT of movies. I always did though. I worked strange hours and was up when the rest of the world was asleep and there was nothing else to do, so I watched movies. I try not to say too much about plot in my reviews unless I really hated the movie. I think people should be able to go into a movie and be surprised by it.
September 30, 2009
Yes. I like the surprise element in a movie. When everything is predictable, it becomes a bore and waste of time :-)
September 30, 2009
I may tell a lot in some reviews such as HEARTBREAK HOTEL or MIRACLE MILE but I leave out all the really important parts so that there're still more surprises on the way to the ending.
September 29, 2009
excellent review, Karen! I love the way you wrote this one up. I rather thought that this movie is also about desire and vanity...the goal to be perfect and a way to control for the sake of control. You and Trashie brought up excellent viewpoints, that I feel rather inspired to write my own. Not much of a review throwdown...our "Drag Me to Hell" reviews were more fun! LOL!
September 29, 2009
I thought our throwdown was much better too Woop because there I had a lot more to grab hold of, here I didn't. He felt insulted, I didn't. How can you argue with that?
September 28, 2009
It's funny, but it seems like you didn't enjoy this as much as you used to, based upon your review that is. What's up?
September 28, 2009
Oh no, I still like it a lot although Trashie did get me noticing the flaws a bit more. The major flaw is the whole bit about why test so much? In theory they shouldn't be smart enough to fool you for more than an hour no matter how much blood and urine they've got. The musice bothered me big time, never did before. I still think it's a good example of what a science fiction movie is, I never said it was a good example of what one should be though. Science fiction isn't really my niche any more than fantasy is.
More Gattaca reviews
Quick Tip by . May 01, 2010
Real science fiction and not a monster movie masquerading as one. See my review.
About the reviewer
karen ()
Ranked #21
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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