PictureSplice comes to Blu-ray presented with a solid but unexceptional 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. Far from bad, it presents the material fairly accurately, but the content itself sometimes dips too far into the realm of softness – more so than you would expect for this kind of release. The tone is generally very clinical – to add to the scientifically-groundbreaking aura of the cutting-edge work that is being done, with plenty of blue and green-hued settings, the first half of the movie coming across as if we genuinely are in some underground research facility. Facial observation and fine object detail are generally quite good, and some of the longer landscape shots stand up – hell, even the modestly-budgeted effects sequences work (for the most part) – but there’s no 3D pop and not quite enough zing to give you the impression that this is a recent movie where they pulled out all the stops for video presentation. Black levels are strong, and there is a manageable layer of grain that only adds to the filmic quality of the material. With no obvious digital artefacts (maybe a smidge of crushing) this is an undeniably decent video presentation, just not one that particularly stands out as being amazing.
SoundThe DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that accompanies the movie also does a decent enough job and presenting the engaging soundtrack well. Dialogue comes across clear and coherent throughout, seldom wavering from its domination of the frontal array. Effects are well-observed and mostly ambient, a few nice creature ‘tics’ adding an uncertainty to the proceedings, and both the surrounds and even the rears remaining reasonably active throughout. There are only a few all-out punchy noises that are designed to make you sit up and pay attention, the rest are unsettling atmospherics which work reasonably well, and a similarly broody score that underlines the impending mayhem at every stage. It’s a decent, good presentation - again nothing amazing, but perfectly suited to the material.
ExtrasAll we get to accompany the movie is a single, solitary Documentary, which runs at 35 minutes. A Director's Playground: Vincenzo Natali On The Set Of Splice purports to allow us to ‘Zoom In On The Innovative Filmmaker Of The Global Cult Sensation Cube As He And His Creative Team Explore New Motivating Territory’. Wow, ok, well this is a reasonably fresh and fluff-less Making-Of Featurette, but it still largely just does the same job as all others do – offering behind the scenes snippets, and cast and crew interviews which will engage fans but likely leave them wanting more. Where’s the Commentary, or the Deleted Scenes? Annoyingly, even the Canadian Blu-ray release of this movie garnered more extras – amidst them a separate Behind the Scenes Featurette, an extra Interview with the Director Vincenzo Natali, and some Trailers. I’m not entirely sure why the US release drops these, but, shamefully, just the one solitary extra is all we get.
VerdictAt best, Splice is a stylish bit of silly sci-fi horror entertainment. At worst it is just a derivative b-movie cross between The Fly and Species which neither offers the weight of the former, nor the fun of the latter. Coming from the Director of the superior Cube, I can see how fans would have expected much more, and it is disappointing that he has gone down such a formulaic route, signposting his way across already familiar territory – a wannabe cautionary tale about messing with nature and the horrific consequences, plagued by clichéd characters who do predictably stupid things to progress a trite and hackneyed plot. I’m not sure why I expected anything more – this is how all of these kinds of movies turn out – but if there was any new Director who could have taken it in a different direction, I thought it could have been Vincenzo Natali. Unfortunately, the reality is that he just didn’t bother to make the most of the high-concept premise, and the subsequent threat and suspense is dwindled away by an inability to relate to the dumbest smart-guy characters ever, and their frustrating, successively illogical actions. Less uneasy shock and awe, and more unintentionally funny, you are plagued by the feeling that ‘this is just going to go wrong’ during every single scene, and it just gets tiresome. If you wanted intelligent, original storytelling, Splice is not the right place to come, as it is largely just a slick but redundant splice itself of ultimately better genre entries.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get good video and audio – nothing exceptional, but nothing to complain about either – and a distinct lack of extras, making this a solid buy for fans, and a respectable rental for those who like the sound of this sci-fi horror. Just don’t expect any decent philosophically contemplative sci-fi strands, or any particularly noteworthy horror element, or – indeed – anything which you likely haven’t seen before. A perfectly watchable genre entry, but far from what it had the potential to be. Enjoyable, entertaining, but ultimately disappointing and relentlessly predictable.
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