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Superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) specialize in splicing DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrids. Now they want to use human DNA in a hybrid that could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, they secretly take their experiment underground--risking their careers to push the boundaries of science and serve their own curiosity and ambition. The result is Dren, an amazing, strangely beautiful creature of uncommon intelligence and unexpected physical developments. At first, Dren exceeds their wildest dreams. But as she grows and learns at an accelerated rate, her existence threatens to become their worst nightmare.
In the grand movie tradition of doomed scientists, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) won't let the official quashing of their Frankensteinian experiment stand in the way of working on the scheme anyway. Sure, the ethics of swizzling together human genes with various lab potions is queasy, and the initial result of their rogue project is disconcertingly pitched somewhere between a human baby and a monster thing with a stinger in its tail. And yes, the beastie is growing fast. Like, really, really fast. But this is science, right? Surely the breakthrough in human evolution that would come with this experiment justifies a little corner cutting? Splice is going to answer these questions in a reliably familiar way, and in its early going it finds some fun in working hip variations on the mad-scientist genre--plus, in Brody and Polley, the film already distinguishes itself by reaching up to the top shelf for actors. It would be nice to report that director Vincenzo Natali (whose Cube was a very fun Twilight Zone-flavored teaser) is able to stitch these elements into something that keeps its momentum going; alas, despite the arrival of Delphine Chaneac as the mature (and unsettlingly sexy) mutant creature, the movie begins stepping into the sillier possibilities of its scenario. Splice would like to mess you around with some aggressively transgressive material toward the end, but this just leads us away from the most fruitful moral questions surrounding the creation of the semi-human being in the first place. That's where the horror lies. --Robert Horton
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