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Splice (2010 movie)

A science fiction thriller directed by Vincenzo Natali.

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Scientific Progress, or a Sin Against Nature?

  • Jun 4, 2010
Rating:
+4
The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.
- An excerpt from "The Island of Dr. Moreau" by H.G. Wells

The problem is, lovers and genetic scientists Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) don't know this. At least, they don't know this at first. Just like Dr. Moreau, it's all in the name of scientific progress and the belief that it will somehow benefit humanity. Their methods are, initially, totally objective; by splicing together the DNA of various animals, they create entirely new hybrid species, hoping to extract a gene that would provide protein and other necessary components for the sick and dying. They succeed, although they would like to go one step further and experiment with human DNA. Their company, while successful, will not provide any more funding, for Clive and Elsa's other hybrids are developing quickly enough to be marketed as visionary products of scientific research.

Not content with being held back, Elsa secretly introduces some human DNA into an assortment of other genes. Clive is wary; not only are they breaking the rules of the company, they're also toying with a host of ethical issues. Elsa remains confident. After all, she doesn't want to bring the new species to term. She just wants to see if it can be done. The thing is, the new life form grows at an advanced rate and emerges before it can be terminated. It's a strange although not altogether unlikeable creature, a female with a bulbous head and spindly legs and a tail. Elsa takes a liking to her immediately and names her Dren, which is the reverse of "nerd," in this case not a putdown but an acronym for the name of their genetic corporation. Clive thinks it was a gigantic mistake. Regardless, they have essentially become parents, and they do whatever they can to keep Dren safe from prying eyes.

The greatest achievement of "Splice" is that, up until the ending, director Vincenzo Natali was ambitious enough to make it be more than a mere thriller. It's an absorbing blend of science fiction and philosophy, forcing both the characters and the audience into a number of thought provoking moral quandaries. Like Wells' "Dr. Moreau," it intelligently raises concern over the pursuit of scientific progress while at the same time begging the question of what distinguishes animals from humans, if indeed there is anything to distinguish. In a matter of months, Dren evolves from a child (Abigail Chu) into full maturity (Delphine Chaneac); although she becomes progressively more humanoid in appearance, she has very clear animalistic tendencies, some of which are quite dangerous. And yet, her emotional development is much the same as that of a human girl - curious about what her "parents" forbid, mindful of her changing appearance, and, most interestingly, becoming aware of her sexuality.

The film also presents us with a look at Clive and Elsa, who seem caught in that unendurable gray zone between cold analysis and emotional attachment. Elsa is especially fascinating, drawn to the methodical and objective nature of science but also harboring deep-seeded maternal instincts, in large part because her own mother didn't seem to possess any. Did she grow to love what started out as a cloning experiment, or did she deliberately create Dren for reasons other than scientific advancement? If it's the former, did she honestly believe anything different would happen? If it's the latter, what did she hope to get out of it emotionally and how did she think it would work? As for Clive, his reluctance belies a curious connection with Dren, one that may seem reprehensible but, given his relationship with Elsa, is also somehow justifiable.

Considering how compelling most of the movie is, it's a shame Natali opted for such a generic climax, the morally challenging aspects disregarded in favor of a routine monster-movie showdown. I can't help but wonder if there's an alternate ending strewn amongst the scraps on the cutting room floor, for it's hard to believe that a conclusion this manufactured was what the filmmakers had in mind. Up until then, we were actually being tested. We were actively engaging in a stimulating cinematic debate. I will admit that there's a satisfying air of mystery in the final shot, one that proves Wells' point: The study of Nature makes a man (or a woman) at last as remorseless as Nature. Still, the scene is hardly worthy of the events leading up to it, which are so well done that I simply can't look past them. In spite of the disappointing final act, "Splice" is an above average science fiction film, strong in character and tone, gripping in plot, and stimulating as a study of ethics.

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January 05, 2012
I liked this one as well, to bad about that ending.
 
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More Splice (2010 movie) reviews
review by . November 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'm Guessing the M. Night Shyamalan Promo Team Has Struck Again
Quite frankly the Splice trailer led me to believe it was to be some what of a horror or suspense film and I saw none of the above. Maybe my eyes deceived me or maybe the promotion team was tryna pull a fast one. Anyway Splice is super simple but extremely odd. Genetic engineers Clive (Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) try to achieve a successful splicing of a series of different animals DNA to help revolutionize medicine and science. All seems well after the 2 actually pull it off with the …
review by . November 12, 2010
*** out of ****      Seldom do we see something genuinely different to the point where most would refer to it as "messed up". I am of course referring solely to the world of film, since whenever somebody tries to do something disgustingly creative, it seems to come out wrong and rather dull. "Splice" is the needle in the haystack; the film that manages to be entertaining yet unrestrained. The film addresses the dangers of genetic experimentation in such a …
review by . June 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Poster
Co-produced by Guillermo Del Toro and co-written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, in a joint venture between Canadian/French /American filmmakers; “SPLICE” is a horror-Sci/fi thriller that explores the age old theme of man trying to remake nature for the sake of the 'common good'. We are familiar with the themes of “science gone mad” or the “abomination against the laws of nature”; since such themes have been explored in films such as the classic …
review by . October 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
DREN WAS EXCELLENT
      SPLICE      I have to say that when this film first came out other than the crazy looking female in it I wasn't to into it. But of course tha changed when I actually got the chance to see it and my opinion turned around. Don't get me wrong I always wanted to see it but it was not a priority. This film actually turned out to be much better than I thought it would be, in fact I thought it would be just average. I was pleasantly surprise as I thought …
Quick Tip by . November 16, 2011
Throughout most of its runtime, this audacious sci-fi flick benefits from fine performances, nuanced characterizations, credible CG and exceptional makeup. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star as a married pair of accomplished yet marginalized genetic engineers who create a humanoid life form (Abigail Chu, Delphine Chanéac) of rapid growth and unprecedented adaptability. Although the leads are undermined by sloppy and abrupt editing similar to that of a sneak preview cut during the film's …
Quick Tip by . December 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This film had a lot of potential, but I couldn't help but feel that it was treading such familiar ground that it couldn't hold my interest. Right off the bat, I could foresee how the entire plot was going to unfold (any Cronenberg fan will know what I mean) and the plot is all-too familiar and formulaic. However, I was willing to overlook this because of the film's pedigree (it was directed by the same guy who made Cube and strong performances. Still, what disappointed me most was that …
Quick Tip by . October 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
I do recommend this film but hit up a rental first because some people will most likely not like this. In fact some people may hate some of the things that happen in this flick, I loved it. When you watch you will know what parts I am talking about, I am sure some already do know. Over all this was much better than I thought it would be.
review by . June 26, 2010
I hope there is a director's cut of Splice. I really, really, REALLY hope with the DVD it will be like 2007's I Am Legend and have on a bonus disc the film's original ending. Why do I say this? Well, I haven't researched much, but Warner Brothers once again - just as in I Am Legend - has a decent sci-fi movie that ends on a low-note. I'll put it this way: up until the final 15 minutes I thought Splice was one of the best science-fiction films I'd ever seen.     Just about everything …
review by . June 10, 2010
I liked the movie SPLICE, but I'm not sure I would ever recommend it to anyone. It's a horror movie that walks very tightly on the line between irredeemably silly and truly creepy. For me, it fell on the creepy side just enough to make it a fun experience. But based on some of the very low audience scores I've seen, it easily falls on the laughable side for many.    It tells the story of two scientists who are a couple (Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley) who work for a big conglomerate …
review by . October 07, 2010
Splice was an intense movie. I loved the plot and the acting was great. It's safe to say that there will be a second one.
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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  • Splice
  • Opens Friday, June 4, 2010 | Runtime:1 hr. 44 min.
  • R
    disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language.
  • Superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) specialize in splicing together DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrids. Now they want to use human DNA in a hybrid that could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, Clive and Elsa secretly conduct their own experiments. The result is Dren, an amazing, strangely beautiful creature that exhibits uncommon intelligence and an array of unexpected physical developments. And though, at first, Dren exceeds their wildest dreams, she begins to grow and learn at an accelerated rate--and threatens to become their worst nightmare.
  • Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac, David Hewlett
  • Director: Vincenzo Natali
  • Genres: Horror-Science Fiction
Poster art for "Splice."
In the grand movie tradition of doomed scientists, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) won't let the official quashing of their Frankensteinian experiment stand in the way of working on the scheme anyway. Sure, the ethics of swizzling together human genes with various lab potions is queasy, and the initial result of their rogue project is disconcertingly pitched somewhere between a human baby and a monster thing with a stinger in its tail. And yes, the beastie is growing fast. Like, really, really fast. ...
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Details

Director: Vincenzo Natali
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: 2010.6.4
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Doug Taylor, Vincenzo Natali
DVD Release Date: October 5, 2010
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Gaumont, Copperheart Entertainment, Dark Castle Entertainment, Senator Entertainment Co
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