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Quint takes in Vincenzo Natali's sci-fi/horror flick SPLICE starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley! Sundance 2010!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my thoughts on the Guillermo del Toro produced sci-fi/monster movie hybrid SPLICE, directed by Vincenzo Natali who directed CUBE.

I gotta say when the movie started, the sixth of a six movie day, I wasn’t sure if I was going to dig it, but it’s one of those movies that evolves, getting better with each reel. Believe me, at film festivals it’s often the reverse; movies that start out strong and then just take a screaming nosedive becoming a gigantic trainwreck of pretentious boredom. You can say a lot about Vincenzo’s movie, but a trainwreck of pretentious boredom it is not. It’s a classic monster tale told through the lens of modern science. Instead of graverobbers our Frankenstein and Igor are a gene-splicing scientist couple played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. Instead of creating new life from cobbled together pieces of dead tissue they create life from cobbled together pieces of DNA, splicing different genomes from different animals. In their work they had been able create new lifeforms from animal DNA, but legally couldn’t explore the full potential by adding in human DNA. Naturally they end up fucking with nature to the point that something brand new and potentially deadly is created. But much like its classic monster predecessors the creature, called Dren, has a soul. It’s not an evil being. Neither are the scientists, but by the end of the movie everybody has crossed a moral line of one type or another, everybody in the film, humans and creatures, have given in to evil urges or behavior. I found some of the CG work at the beginning of the film to be a little loose if you know what I mean. I love the design of the young Dren, a bipedal rat-fetus of a creature (with creepily human eyes) and the way Natali shoots it, but I feel the worst of the digital work is here. That said if you give the creature enough personality then you get some leeway with the effects and I feel Natali earned that leeway with this creature.

As Dren grows older the human DNA shows through more and more allowing for a mixture of practical and CG to creature the matured creature, a demur and frankly beautiful creature. French actress Delphine Chaneac plays the matured Dren and the only big difference between her as a real life human being and her as Dren are her eyes... slightly bigger and farther apart and her legs, dog-kneed. This allows for a great mixture of CGI and a human actress. It should also be noted that KNB added a lot to the practicals as well. All effects talk aside, the movie only works if you buy the relationships, as fucked up and bizarre as they are. Polley and Brody are fine. I bought them as scientists and as a couple. Bottom line, I’m a big fan of movies that are filled with gray characterization. That’s why I love noir and crime films so much and what I really grabbed on to with this movie. Everybody in this story has the capacity for kindness and cruelty. By making such a distinct and fascinating creature in Dren Natali gives us something to hold on to, to sympathize with and to, ultimately, be terrified of. Right now this film doesn’t have US distribution, but from my interview with the director earlier today I think they’re close.

As always, for a real time Sundance update, follow my Twitter feed! -Quint quint@aintitcool.com Follow Me On Twitter



Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:37 p.m. CST

    I would have liked to hear a little more

    by manifestchaos

    but I'm intrigued. Polley has always been a strong actress, and Brody's no worse.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:41 p.m. CST

    looks like Alice The Goon

    by TheJudger

    and also a lot like the Goon looking vampires in that arctic-- shit I forget it's name. Not worth googling. Yeah, yeah, Ben Foster. Sure.....

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:41 p.m. CST

    2ND!

    by SirBiatchReturns

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:42 p.m. CST

    or maybe not

    by SirBiatchReturns

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:42 p.m. CST

    4th

    by TheJudger

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:42 p.m. CST

    6th

    by TheJudger

    ok, it shoud be corrected now

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:42 p.m. CST

    nope still fucked

    by TheJudger

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:43 p.m. CST

    SPECIES

    by Sir Loin

    ...is what I thought of when I saw that poster design. C'mon, guys...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:43 p.m. CST

    CAN YOU FU*K IT?

    by dr sauch

    come on, someone, up high!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:48 p.m. CST

    The poster does have a Species vibe...

    by FrecklesBauer

    Thanks again Quint. Always love reading your thoughts on festival releases.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:55 p.m. CST

    So did you like it?!

    by judge dredds fresh undies

    I wasn't really clear on that, aside from it not being a pretentious train wreck.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:07 p.m. CST

    I've actually been waiting for this one

    by Beniffer

    From what I have read and saw on the internets .. potential here for something good.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:18 p.m. CST

    Wasn't this called

    by NippleEffect

    Species the last half dozen or so times it was done?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:19 p.m. CST

    Urgh Adrian Brody

    by RICHARD_GERE_RAPED_MY_GERBIL

    This sounds good but i'm afraid i'll have to use my hands to cover the screen whenever he's on. I've never liked Brody as an actor. Can't explain why but whenever he's onscreen i find myself instantly bored.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:27 p.m. CST

    Loved CUBE, so can't wait. Forgettable title though.

    by FlickaPoo

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Is the adult Dren hot? How does it compare to a Navi?

    by LiquidLunch

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:38 p.m. CST

    waiting for awhile for this one...

    by CENOBITE

    Can't wait for it. Hope it's good! The effects remind me of a Playstation Chris Cunningham commercial.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:42 p.m. CST

    I thought this already had distribution...

    by SoylentMean

    and so the wait continues...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:48 p.m. CST

    "A gigantic

    by Ollegs

    train wreck of pretentious boredom"...so true.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 7:50 p.m. CST

    For whatever reason I'm reminiscing about "Trog"

    by ufoclub1977

    Saw that as the 3 o'clock million dollar movie after school in the mid 70's...

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:13 p.m. CST

    very fucking original--have a look at these

    by corplhicks

    http://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/65/MPW-32966 http://www.shockya.com/news/wp-content/uploads/alien_movie_poster.jpg

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:23 p.m. CST

    trailer was great,

    by frank cotton

    and i just watched CYPHER for the first time last week (right decent), so i'm hoping this will be good, too

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:45 p.m. CST

    Adrian Brody

    by Hipshot

    I will always have trouble with Brody after his lip-rape of Halle Berry. While her husband looked on. No class.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:50 p.m. CST

    They completely ripped off the original "Alien" poster.

    by Ironhelix

    Even the title is in an Alien-like font.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:52 p.m. CST

    So is this a reimagening of Species?

    by dailysportspages

    Where is Natasha!

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 8:55 p.m. CST

    How many years has this been floating around now?

    by white_vader

    We even saw cg shots aeons ago. Has it been sitting on the shelf or just had the world's longest post?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:06 p.m. CST

    the creature really creatured the creature in

    by MacReady452

    this creature debut by creature.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:31 p.m. CST

    love natali's work

    by red_weed

    been waiting for this for what seems like an eternity. cube, nothing, cypher especially, and even his segment was my favourite in paris je'teim. Hope this come out soon

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 9:40 p.m. CST

    RIP Jean Simmons

    by Tinky Winky

    One of the great entrances in screen history: Jean Simmons as Estella in David Lean's Great Expectations. RIP Jean SImmons

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Been waiting for this forever..

    by Lissa-Triana

    ever since I saw the pics here on AICN. Is David Hewlett in it for a "blink and you miss it" amount of time or does he actually have a decent screen time?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:25 p.m. CST

    the 3rd pic looks like Bjork

    by BEYONDTHUNDERDOME2GIRLS1CUPBILLCOSBY

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Jeremy Renner begs Mel Gibson to do one more M4X

    by BEYONDTHUNDERDOME2GIRLS1CUPBILLCOSBY

    http://tinyurl.com/y9qba5w

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:39 p.m. CST

    CENOBITE...

    by Fish Tank

    Cunningham is awesome. Loved his work forever. Loved the creepy Glaswegian chick you referenced ;-)

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 10:55 p.m. CST

    still no distribution

    by animas

    is this movie going to circle every fuckin film festival until the end of time?

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:22 p.m. CST

    I'M GETTING AN ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU VIBE

    by BringingSexyBack

    Rat people freak my shit out.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:30 p.m. CST

    imdb has better stills

    by DoctorZoidberg

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 11:35 p.m. CST

    DISTRIBUTION SCHMISTRIBUTION

    by BringingSexyBack

    Just put it on Netflix. What's the problem?

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 12:09 a.m. CST

    theatrical release?

    by GavinVanDraven

    or direct to video? it'd be a shame if it goes straight to video... it has that vibe though. still, with stars of that caliber.... i should see limited release right?

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 1:10 a.m. CST

    So... Good movie? Or disappointing?

    by D.Vader

    That was hard to tell. I know you guys don't like dissing Del Toro... But at the same time, you guys love him and hosted a big showing of concept Photoshop art for the movie a long time ago, so I know this was anticipated. But this is a hard review to decipher. Good or not? Worth it or no? Failure or success?

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 1:14 a.m. CST

    I'm gonna guess... Very dissapointing

    by D.Vader

    On a second read, that was not a very positive review at all. Tis a shame.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 2:02 a.m. CST

    ripoff ripoff betcha this movie sucks more than a 110 pound whit

    by corplhicks

    Wow, I just can't tell: did they rip of Species: http://www.movieposter.com/pos ters/archive/main/65/MPW-32966 Or Alien?: http://www.shockya.com/news/wp -content/uploads/alien_movie_p oster.jpg

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 2:22 a.m. CST

    Can't believe this movie is finally made!

    by RedEgiraahgnal

    Origianlly that was supposed to be Natali's follow-up to CUBE!

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 6:14 a.m. CST

    Er.....this looks like...

    by I_am_Torgo

    ...the gene-splice of Tiptoes and Species. No chance of Adrian Brody going full dwarf is there?

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Quint thought Splice sucked... according to his review.

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    Quint, what was wrong? You weren't very clear.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 6:48 a.m. CST

    IT'S BJORK!

    by The Goon

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 6:51 a.m. CST

    "SPECIES: SPLICED" coming soon...

    by Mike_D

    ..or not at all.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Dren?

    by Felix Buckman

    Does it have a sibling named Frell? You dare call me hapuuta?!

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 12:41 p.m. CST

    All that genetic/medical know-how, and yet . . .

    by Royston Lodge

    . . . they still can't fix Sarah Polley's teeth?

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Huh?

    by DadTimesTwo

    "...to creature the matured creature, a demur and frankly beautiful creature."

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 1:23 p.m. CST

    I hope...

    by D_T

    they only creatured the mature creature, creaturing the baby creature would be plain sick.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 6:12 p.m. CST

    It's Bjork spliced with...

    by JayLenoTookMyJob

    ...Sinead O'Connor circa 1989. Truly horrifying!

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 7:02 p.m. CST

    I love how...

    by MainMan2001

    ...sundance is no longer for independent filmmakers. Just because it wasn't created by a major studio doesn't make it independent.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 8:50 p.m. CST

    so that's what Billy Corgan has been up to all these years...

    by jiblets

    anyone with a voice like that has to be a cannibal or a vampire. Or a rat-thing.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Royston Lodge

    by Sir Loin

    I laughed heartily at your last comment. Well done, sir!

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 8:59 p.m. CST

    Yes, Bjork is hungry for Chef Boyardee

    by Immortal_Fish

    Looks like equal parts Species and Iceman, with an ample helping of AI peppered throughout. Not that it'd suck. Brody is always good and Polley is too finicky with the roles she chooses.

  • Jan. 24, 2010, 11:29 p.m. CST

    the creature has a soul ??LOL

    by Windowlicker74

    i guess it will join the lord in the heavens above

  • Jan. 25, 2010, 2:34 a.m. CST

    Adrien Brody has a beer and creatures his wife

    by judge dredds fresh undies

  • Jan. 25, 2010, 10 a.m. CST

    Seems like rip-off of elements of Watchers, as well....

    by None_So_Blind

    At least the original book (esp. the "Outsider" character), not the unbelievably bad movie version and subsequent sequels...

  • Jan. 25, 2010, 10:01 a.m. CST

    This is entertainment, for now, but

    by Gregorso

    in a few years these genetic engineering nightmares will be reality. And it won't be pretty.

  • Jan. 25, 2010, 10:31 p.m. CST

    Jesus, look at this!

    by Sherlock Holmes II

    from:thestar.com Speaking of Avatar, Natali’s Splice attracted so much advance attention, it drew a letter from Cameron’s lawyers. They were making cease-and-desist noises because they wrongly assumed that Splice was stealing from Avatar’s plot, even though Natali said he’s been writing it for 10 years. But fellow Canuck Cameron told his legal beagles to take off, eh? Said Natali: “James Cameron actually interceded and said, ‘No, no! They’re really not doing anything like we’re doing.’ That spoke well for him.” James Cameron sues for plagiarism?!?! Also, weren't they sued by Patricia Piccinini?