Monday, June 07, 2010

Review: Gattaca


Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Gore Vidal, Loren Dean, Blair Underwood, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Shalhoub

What would a world be like if you were judged at birth to be suitable to be the recipient of societies benefits or unfit?

I was all set to dismiss this movie as a bit of mean spirited anti everything movie. You know the type, rave about surveillance, security, pollution, on and on and on.

Then I started paying attention to the overall ambiance. Things stopped adding up. Although it appeared modern time frame or even future, the architecture was decidedly 50s, Dress was conservative even for that time, maybe 20s? Tech though advanced seemed almost steam punk in nature. What I realized was that we have a brave new world / 1984 type of thing going on here - almost an alternative or parallel Earth mind set. Then the 40s perfect genome perfect baby mentality starts to make a whole lot of sense. It's Earth, perhaps, just not quite OUR Earth. Everything is this surreal perfect generic low-tech high-tech uber surveillance society and everything stays in the 30s/40s double breasted button down motif right to the end. Space suits? Seat belts? Nope, 3 piece suits, ties, high-backed seats in a circle and the launch techs? Right out of a Russian 60s propaganda film.

In the middle of this is a "genetically undesirable" who's only option is menial labor who dreams of the stars. I wouldn't think of ruining the twisted hiding in plain sight that is the pivot for this movie, and the obligatory reversals are very much in evident, perhaps to a fault, but the one thing that does happen with these "twists" is that it is extremely difficult to predict the ending. You will find yourself at the last few moment in the film muttering...didn't see that coming.

Gattaca is of course a movie with a bit of age on it being filmed in 1997 which when put into perspective was incredibly forward thinking in ways that as breath taking as they were, movies like Blade Runner, could not hope to be. There is no question that Gattica is still very timely in the subject matter it addressed.

The Blu-Ray is every bit an addition to the movie experience. We have an out take reel, and several featurettes that explain the original vision, the making of thought process and strangely enough a separate science of DNA.

Now I am going to warn you that if you are planning on watching the movie for the first time, it does carry a fairly strong "message" but no more so that some of the totally self serving disingenuous crap that we see lately that is only politically correct for the dollars sake. With Gattica they went so far as to cut the most troublesome messages out of the general release because the didnt want to pound us over the head with "the Message" so that is a serious kudo for me.

I don't know why I let this one go when it first came to the big screen or why I never pursued it in the intervening years, but I have got to say that Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law really do excellent jobs and when you consider the time frame and some of the neat info from the short films you appreciate just how good this movie is.

The movie is an 8 solid and the special extras are 9 (why a 9? because I have kinda grown to like the feature with the director voice over...didnt get that) so Gattaca is a solid 9 in my book. Being a message movie, you may feel it a bit heavy handed and some might be put off by the age, but considering that alien and 2001 Blade Runner and their ilk still hold their weight, this has got to be a film in their league.


zmanz22260 said...

Yes your right that the movie was ahead of it time. I remeber watching for the frist time thinking it was in the 1984/brave new world type of movie. A type of story that needs to be told often and with diffent ways. The idea that mankind kind becomeing a little more than a worker in the hive is an insult to mankind in gerneral.

Beam Me Up said...

"a little more than a worker in the hive..."

and I think that is common thread in a lot of the really notable cautionary tales of the day. Soylent Green, Brave New World, 1984, THX 1138 and so on - really try showing that limiting the human spirit can only lead anarchy.

Thanks for the comment zmanz

zmanz22260 said...

True the human spirit will always look for freedom,however anarchy is as bad as the "hive" lifestyle. Man is a social being, so if we are to live in a social setting we do need rules to live by. The problem is that when do those rules start to manipulat peoples personal behavor. So these cautionary tales are very important for are own freedoms.

Beam Me Up said...

And that makes me wonder if the message itself is as old as human society....Even in a hunter/gatherer clan. Think of it, one of the first real stories around the cooking fire. Where the bard/historian tells the tale of the unwise chief who felt only his way was the one true way, ignoring the advice of the older sages. Only to find his clan starving and being decimated by rivals. ...

It could have been like that! lol