Splice (2010)


Rating: 9/10

A very original sci-fi movie. It pushes the boundaries of science, reality, and ethics, and although it’s perhaps not as field-changing as 2001 or Star Wars, it is certainly innovative in its plot content.

I normally don’t post movie trailers here, but I make an exception here, for this is one trailer you gotta see—it does a surprisingly good job:

What’s really startling is that the trailer’s right—it ISN’T like anything we’ve seen before. The plot is basically that two genetic researchers illegally splice human DNA into a mix of other animals’ DNA, and the result is a creature named Dren (‘nerd’ backwards). Splice is a very believable movie—it could easily happen five or ten years from now, and it’s very scientifically accurate.

Now, onto the rating. The cinematography and acting are fine, and the music is adequate, but there could be more scientific exploration in it: not that the science is wrong, but that there isn’t enough of it. Regarding such science topics, the film covers DNA splicing, accelerated growth, female compassion versus male aggression, natural sex change, nonhuman intelligence, and nonhuman emotion. That might sound like a lot, but it felt inadequate, playing more like a horror movie than science fiction.

Philosophically, however, the movie is very rich. In our current time there are already the issues of animal cloning and human cloning; this movie elevates this with a human-animal hybrid. Another question raised is that of experimentation—to what degree should a scientist become emotionally attached to an experimental organism, as opposed to terminating the organism’s life when it becomes dangerous? Also, as posed in the trailer: Is it morally justified to work on an illegal project because somebody else is probably working on it too? How far should we step out of scientific protocol for academic competition, or perhaps for a more noble goal: to make an important discovery?

There is also, unavoidably, the very disturbing question the film raises about sex. Or as the director put it: “very unconventional sex.” Warning: Spoilers be here, although you probably want to continue reading this paragraph anyway just because of the topic. To be sure, sci-fi films in the past have indeed brought up this topic involving humans and androids (e.g. Blade Runner, though in this case, depending on interpretation of the movie, the human could have been actually an android), but never before involving humans and human/animal hybrids that are the result of DNA splicing. There are two twists as well—first, Dren changes from female to male, and thus has sex with both Clive and Elsa. Second: the original human portion of Dren’s DNA was spliced from Elsa herself. Does that make it incest?

Splice is overall an unconventional film. It very nearly deserves a 10, but it could have covered more in the scientific area. For this I give it a 9, which is so far my highest rating of any film of 2010.

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