Friday, November 19, 2010


Directed by Vincenzo Natali.
2010. Rated R, 100 minutes.
Adrien Brody
Sarah Polley
Delphine Chanéac
Brandon McGibbon
Simona Maicanescu
David Hewlett
Abigail Chu

We all know those people who are academically brilliant but pretty much brain-dead in all other phases of life. Meet Elsa (Polley) and Clive (Brody), two such people. They work together in a genetic splicing lab and through some biological sleight of hand, have created two living, breathing blobs affectionately named Fred and Ginger. I’m sure their iconic namesakes are flattered, but whatever. The hope is that the key to curing many medical ailments lies within the genes of these creatures.

That’s all fine and dandy. However, there are some problems. The first is that, like Fred and Ginger, Elsa and Clive are a couple. This means when they leave the lab and/or decide to do anything requiring rational thought they are at more of a disadvantage than most of us. The idiocy of the other person is all they have to overcome or gain approval of with each of them secure in their belief that the other person is brilliant.

This leads to problem number two. Elsa rashly decides it is a good idea to introduce human DNA into the same cocktail they used to create Fred and Ginger, pretty much just because. After a fleeting moment of clarity passes, Clive agrees that just because is good enough and goes along with the program. They create a fetus they intend to watch and terminate before it reaches full term, again just because. Of course, full-term happens roughly overnight so they miss that boat. Out pops this thing that looks like a miniature T-rex with a rodent-like face and it’s pretty pissed off. After deciding it is too cute to kill, they settle on the idea of becoming its parents in order to observe and document things, even though they’re pretty sure what they’ve done will land them in jail if anyone finds out. So yeah, you guessed it, they’re doing it just because.

What “because” really is eventually becomes clear as mud as we watch the little creature develop. They name her Dren (Chanéac), nerd spelled backwards we’re made to understand. They also teach her lots of communication skills, since she’s clearly as intelligent as a human being but can’t talk. She also looks more and more human as the movie goes on. I mean, she still has four fingers on each hand and legs like a T-rex but the face changes dramatically. When you watch it, you’ll see this is important.

Here’s the thing: watching Dren grow up isn’t terribly exciting. We watch her learn how to get her point across using Scrabble letters, see or hear something she probably shouldn’t, get a little rebellious and get yelled at and sent to a corner. This goes on for roughly 85 minutes with occasional breaks for our loving couple to try and save their jobs due to a mishap involving Fred and Ginger.

During the last 15 minutes or so Dren is featured in two of the weirdest sex scenes ever, realizes she’s stronger than her captors…er…”parents” and involuntarily does something else to cause all hell to break loose. This raises the movie to the grand level of so-so. Honestly? I liked it better when it was called Species.

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