Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spice is hardcore science fiction

I just returned from seeing Splice. This is a serious piece of science fiction. It is not really a horror movie. As such, I need to lead off with my normal prolog about SciFi.

The overwhelming majority of people who have ever passed through this veil of tears have been illiterate and innumerate. They could not read, write or do elementary arithmetic. Without these foundations, there was no way to proceed on to more advanced subjects such as biology, or from there to genetics. They could read work on developmental psychology, or works by Freud. As such most people 'just don't get' true science fiction. They are frequently left out in the cold by it, and they never understand it.

To make matters worse, all kinds of weird shit gets classified as SciFi. If you look at the top 250 SciFi movies of all time, you will see some weird shit on that list. Things like "Back to the Future" and "The Incredibles" would not appear on my roster of SciFi movies. Netflix has Walt Disney's Dragonslayer listed as a SciFi movie. I have no idea why.

To understand Splice, you would need some familiarity with all of the following things:
  1. An understanding of basic biology.
  2. An understanding of animal life cycles.
  3. An understanding that the drive to optimize inclusive fitness is the fundamental force driving all species behavior.
  4. It would help if you understood that many coral reef fish change sex during their lives. This is just part of their natural biology.
  5. It would help if you understood a little something about DNA, base pairs, and gene splicing.
  6. It would help if you knew genetic engineers are currently splicing all manner of DNA together. They boast they can put a fish eye on a wasp if they want too. It's just base pairs man!
  7. They are making custom organisms that crank out common drugs such as human insulin, used by just about all diabetics today.
  8. It would help if you understand Freud's Oedipus and Electra Complex.
Ergo sum, we know most people can't really track with this bold screen writer. This is why there are some fairly stupid comments posted about this movie over at Litterary and movie critics study how to make things rhyme in iambic pentameter. They rarely study science.

Although I am tad uncomfortable saying this, I must say that I think it is the most important piece of science fiction I have seen in a hell of a long time. I knew without question, as I walked out of the theater, that I had just seen a SciFi classic that will be just as watched 20 years from now as it is today. This will be a constant reference point for a lot of future works.

Warner Brothers, Dark Castle and the director Vincenzo Natali must be congratulated for making a masterpiece.

With that said, this movie is pretty... ehm.... hardcore... for the lack of a better term... although it isn't exactly hardcore. This movie boldly goes where angels fear to tread. This is a movie which dares to answer the question: What is worse than Lebron James catching his Mom and Delonte West in flagrante delicto?

It is not gratuitous when it does so. There are serious reasons for every move the screenwriter make. Every crazy twist in this plot is well setup and makes sense in the context. Some very, very smart critters worked on this screenplay.

This is a cautionary tale for scientists, and a bit of a warning for the rest of us, about the dangers of cross-species gene splicing and the creation of new species on the basis of human DNA. I would dare to tell you that this movie is far more prescient, far more plausible, and far more important than much more celebrated literary works, like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

Fire away if you want, but I say this is a real Frankenstein with serious scientific grit, fully updated for our current age.

I found this movie intensely fascinating. It was horrific on a much more intelligent level than most movies are. It builds suspense and tension very intelligently. It was plenty horrified by the end. This is a brilliant piece of work.

I would like to recommend this movie to everyone, but I know that not everyone can or will understand this movie. I hope some gene splicers will have a look at this film and give it some thought.