Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Dead Space Downfall (2008)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Chuck Patton
Starring: Nika Futterman, Keith Szarabajka and Jim Cummings
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Dead Space is a video game whose atmosphere, setting and plot are things I truly love, yet I’ve never finished it. Upon finding this prequel I was hoping to get a complete story while avoiding the gaming aspect. Certainly, video game movies have a long, horrid history but surely in animated form this movie could overcome many of the challenges that live action video game movie adaptations have. Right?

At first things seemed fine. Not great but fine. The animation style reminded me a little of the Aeon Flux series and the voice acting was adequate enough. However as the movie progressed things started becoming a little unhinged and by the end I was shaking my head at the absolute horridness of this film. So where did it all go wrong?

First, while the animation style was okay, it was definitely done on the cheap. You have a number of repeated sequences as well as a jerky style that felt like someone had misplaced some of the animation cells. I have watched cheap animation before and was still been able to enjoy it - mainly thanks to the strength of the story telling - unfortunately the story here is riddled with clichés and characters you just can’t bring yourself to care about. What’s more, a goodly percentage of the characters just do some of the stupidest stuff imaginable. At one point in the movie a character starts to talk about his history out of nowhere, after which he then sacrifices himself. Sorry movie, I’m not going to care about a character that you’ve only just now decided to characterise so I can feel some emotion at his demise.

So, knowing it has a weak story and animation, the movie falls upon the time honoured tradition of filling everything else up with gore. The problem now is too much animated gore and as such has no real impact at all. By the end there was so much blood I was laughing. Dead Space had gore but it was all wrapped up in a claustrophobic and dark atmosphere. This movie is way too bright to pull off the same thing.

Behold the terror of animated dead corpse monsters.
The final nail in this film’s coffin is the creature design. While they’ve stayed true to the game creature look, animation does not do these monsters justice. The movie is too bright and the creatures look as if they belong in a Looney Tunes short. Yet again I was laughing and I’m sure that’s not what the creatures were supposed to invoke.

If this was a game the story might pass muster but overall this is a completely mismanaged movie. Dead Space Downfall comes across as a rushed product merely trying to cash in on a well-known brand. Honestly, just avoid this one; it really has nothing going for it.

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