Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Dead Space: Downfall

directed by Chuck Patton

Dead Space: Downfall  poster  
Movies based on videogames have probably done more than any other category to lower our expectations of science fiction films. As a prequel, Dead Space: Downfall does at least have the opportunity to include an interesting back story before the business of mindless hacking and slashing begins. Sadly it blows this chance.

This is an animated movie set in the far future. A mining ship, the Ishimura, encounters a monolithic alien artefact, and the crew bring it aboard. Immediately after its arrival people start to show signs of madness. Very soon there's a spate of homicides and suicides, and the morgue starts to fill up.

The security chief, Alissa Vincent (voiced by Nika Futterman), suspects that it's something to do with the artefact. But the captain isn't convinced, reasoning that people who have been in space for a long time are mentally fragile in any case.

Early on in the movie the atmosphere is quite creepy. But it's spoilt all too soon by the obviousness of what is to come. And just as expected, one zombie alien bloodbath ensues.

Alissa takes her team of security guards to investigate, which they do whilst mouthing off as many profanities as possible. This may be just the kind of language squared-jawed military types might be expected to come out with during a crisis, but it makes for extremely dull dialogue.

A few heavy-handed gore-fests later, we hear a little about Unitologists. This is a religious group with qualms about the type of mining they were doing, a process known as planet cracking. But their story is more or less only hinted at. Presumably you have to play the game to find out more about this side of things.

Dead Space: Downfall is packed with splattery action, and it features a host of monstrous creatures. They spring to life and take on forms that range from toothy, shambling zombies to gargantuan troll-like monsters and oversized vampire bats. They're basically the usual house of horrors, given an alien twist. There isn't much to say about the visual style, which is cell animation with a smattering of textured machinery in the background. However the look is the best aspect of this movie, which is to say that it's adequate without being in any way novel.

Everything else, unfortunately, falls way below par. The plot is predictable, the dialogue could have been written by a potty-mouthed computer programme for all the life it shows, and the over-aggressive heroine is about as likeable as malaria.

This movie is actually aimed at adults, and its levels of violence and gore certainly preclude a young audience. But it doesn't have enough substance to entertain many people over the age of about twelve. It's brain-dead and forgettable pap, and bad even by the low standards of videogame spin-offs.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

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On a desert planet where night arrives only once every 22 years, the natives make the most of it.

1 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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