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Just bad science (Splice & Hollow Man)

I have been thinking about this post for a while now. After watching the first episode of Prophets of Science Fiction: Mary Shelley, which I really enjoyed, I decided it's finally time to bring this post to life - pun absolutely intended.

I love scifi. At it's best, it's smart and challenging. To be truly effective, scifi must present us with 3 elements:
  1. A plausible account of the science of the day;
  2. A humanistic critique of that science;
  3. A viable prediction of what’s likely to happen if the ways of science and technology are not controlled.
When one of those pieces is missing, or the acting is atrocious, or the writing immature, or any other thing that can go wrong, scifi can become just laughable. If anyone in the movie ever asks, "what's the worst that can happen?" you know that shit is gonna go down and nothing will ever be "okay" again.

If the movie you're watching has been shitty up to this point, you may want to return to browsing your Netflix queue - it's not going to get any better from here on out.

I keep running into scifi movies that have really bad, unbelievable scientific practice and truly crappy scientists making preposterous decisions. At the heart of each movie's plot is a desperate, passionate, completely idiotic choice that sets in motion the complete destruction of everyone in the movie - sometimes even the world.

For your convenience, I've watched past the point of no return for you and am here to report back on some of the worst offenders:

Readers, meet Splice.

Splice is like Species if it were written by a feminist with overwhelming concerns about gender dynamics, family values, and a paralyzing fear of men. Oh yeah, and directed by Vincenzo Natali, whom you may have already read, I don't like.

A couple of scientists are experimenting with genetics and DNA and combining human and animal cells with the endless funding of some evil corporation.

Their experiments are, until now, aided by their love for their work and for one another. In some fucking absurd, Adam and Eve moment, she convinces him that they should bring their experimental creature to term - instead of killing it when they really should have. You know, before it was large enough to murder anyone. More on the murdering later.

Yes. We get it. Women are sensitive creatures who respect life and men don't want to be responsible for the lives they help create.

After emotionally blackmailing her partner into not killing this thing, Elsa (Sarah Polley) makes the cardinal mistake of bringing home a stray anything - she names it. Once you name it, you'll never be able to get rid of it.

This, of course, turns into some mother-daughter situation with an angry, jealous boyfriend on the sidelines. This is all well and good and by the adolescent book until Dren (our gender-ambiguously named creature) seduces Clive the angry boyfriend (Adrien Brody) and Elsa finds out. She's particularly perturbed because it's not JUST ANY human DNA she's mixed into this thing, it's hers.

If you're thinking this can't get any worse, and that these supposedly smart people can't make ANY MORE STUPID DECISIONS, you're wrong. Dren magically morphs from female to male, kills Clive, and rapes Elsa. Faced with boyfriendlessness, Elsa kills Dren.

Cut to the evil mega-corporation offering Elsa many, many, many dollars to continue her experiments and WHAT IS THIS?! She's pregnant with what can only be a partial human, partial animal, completely un-natural THING.

Rosemary would be proud.

How does Splice rate on the 3 elements?
  • Plausibility = fair
  • Humanistic critique = needs improvement, too reactionary
  • Prediction for the future = oh yes definitely implied, VERY strongly
You can watch the trailer here:

Next, I bring you Hollow Man.

Hollowman is a sort of remake of The Invisible Man with less, "I shouldn't have tempted God's wrath" and more, "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you rotten kids."

The question at the heart of the story stays the same, "what would you do if no one were looking?" but, the focus has shifted away form the guilty feeling from going against God's will towards a more self-centered depression at not getting away with more.

A couple of scientists are experimenting with genetics and DNA and making animals become invisible with the endless funding of some evil corporation. (This sounds familiar, right?)

Their experiments are somewhat hampered by their breakup, personal baggage, and her (Elisabeth Shue) new relationship with another member of the team. In some fucking absurd, ego-maniacal moment, he (Kevin Bacon) uses himself as a test subject and become invisible.

Perhaps he missed a day in class or perhaps he didn't read his comics well enough but, SPOILER ALERT, there's literally no way this can end well for him.

Free from the watchful eye of society, Kevin Bacon romps around indulging his voyeuristic tendencies and molesting any woman he can get his invisible hands on. Gross.

Having no face and no obligation to societies' rules begins to make him a little bit crazy and things end in an exploding laboratory. Presumably, Elisabeth Shue and her new beau (Josh Brolin) live happily ever after.

How does Hollow Man rate on the 3 elements?
  • Plausibility = very, very, very, VERY low
  • Humanistic critique = needs significant improvement
  • Prediction for the future = none whatsoever aside from, "the military would do bad things with this."
You can watch the trailer here:


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