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DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL - 2008
Manga, Film Roman, EA, Anchor Bay, Starz
A woman looks at us from a recorded message. Her name is Alissa Vincent (Video game voice-actor, Nikka Futterman: ENTER THE MATRIX, X-MEN LEGENDS, THE PUNISHER, VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE - BLOODLINES, PSYCHONAUTS, PREDATOR: CONCRETE JUNGLE, DESTROY ALL HUMANS!, EVIL DEAD: REGENERATION, RATCHET: DEADLOCKED, THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE LEGEND OF JACK SPARROW, NIGHT WATCH, SPIDER-MAN 3, THE DARKNESS, HALO 3, METAL GEAR SOLID 4) and her story is about an artifact, destruction, and death aboard her spaceship. As far as she knows, she is the only survivor.
A small group of folks are walking along through the the towering rock formations of this world and come across a towering building. Only they don't see it as a building, but as a massive artifact.
Credits roll and then we get to Alyssa's story. Turns out Chief Alyssa Vincent is in charge of security on the Mothership, USG Ishimura. On the 2.5 year old mining colony planet (the colony is that old, not the planet), Aegis 7 in the Cygnus System, a world is being terraformed, citizens are building their city, the surface is uninhabitable, but suits and artificial life support is plentiful. According to what people are saying to each other, they are millions of light years away from earth.
Hold that thought, I'll get back to it.
In the past week, suicides and murders have jumped on the planet colony and Chief Vincent makes a connection. The towering artifact has been on the ship for about a week. It will be taken back to earth to be studied by the Unitologists: The earth governing religion that controls all. That said, not everyone on board the mothership is a Unitologist. Few of the officers are, most of the enlisted are, and the officers are beginning to have a difficult time with the enlisted, who want permission to enter the hold where the artifact is kept, and possibly worship it.
There is quite a difference in command between the enlisted and the officers. The officers onboard the mothership treat the enlisted as peasants, and threaten to shoot them on site if they step out of line. You can have that in countries, but on ships, that's a disaster waiting to happen. Everybody is vital on a military ship, or else they wouldn't be there.
So Chief Vincent disrespectfully confronts Captain Mathius (Jim Cummings - yes THE Jim Cummings! Afterburner from the 1980s TRANSFORMERS, THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, SHADOWS OF DARKNESS, GARGOYLES, EARTHWORM JIM, PINKY AND THE BRAIN, SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND, HELLBOY ANIMATED: BLOOD AND IRON and nearly 300 more!) on the command deck of his ship. She has questions about the artifact and she demands answers right in front of the crew, while Mathius is in the middle of negotiating a major duty (Heh! I said doody! But seriously!). The Captain tells her to go back to her job and she openly mocks him in a way that could get her court martialed. But this is the future so rules may have changed. Still, no love lost between these two.
The captain proceeds with orders and those orders say that it's time to "Core" the planet.
"All right then. Pop the cork!"
THE GAME LOOKS LIKE THIS
...AND THE MOVIE LOOKS LIKE THIS. WTF?
Using some kind of tractorbeam technology, a massive circle of the planet's surface, far larger than the Mothership, is torn from the world and hoisted into space, kept in check between the planet and the mothership by the pulling beams from the ship and the pushing ones built into the planet's crust below. This is done to further facilitate the mining operation (with all of the expenditure of building a deep space colony, it needs some way to pay its debt).
Once the planet is "cored", things go from bad to horribly worse. As the Ishimura crew watch their holo-monitors, the colonists planet side abruptly drop dead, their life sign bios, all monitored by computer and aboard the ship, going red as each one expires. Its a fast, massive die off and no one knows why.
This causes more trouble than you'd think aboard the Mothership, because they have this great big honkin' hunk of rock caught between ship and planet. No one below can work the planet side machines to release the rock, and if the ship releases the rock, then the tractor beams below will slam that mass right into the Ishimura above it. The ship is in geosynchronus orbit (I'll visit that in a moment). But the task of stabilizing the planet mass wasn't complete before everything went wrong. Then the Ishimura goes dead, only to have the computer reboot itself and come back online. Then it happens again. On the second reboot, all of the Ishimura's escape pods jettison their empty selves due to a glitch. The ship's computer think's its dying. If the ship can get the planet machines to release the rock, then it will fall back to Aegis 7, killing what few colonists are left and destroying any evidence of what killed them off in the first place. If the ship doesn't release the rock and escape, then it can't return to earth.
So things are tense, and only get worse when a shuttle from planet side comes crashing aboard. Alissa leads ship's security as they seal the landing bay from the space outside. She and her team enter the hangar, and Merry Mishaps occur.
Which is as good a time as any for my
Blech! To the sound in space of course. Just because it is a common stupidity doesn't make it an acceptable one.
There are a number of things that could be wrong with the whole geosynchronous orbit of the Ishimura (where an object stays above the exact same place over a planet). Such orbits are quite high according to Kepler's Law (geosynchronus orbit for earth starts at 36,000km), and the Ishimura appears to be only 30 or so kilometers above the surface. Far too low for a geosynchronus orbit. But they are using some kind of futuristic tractorbeam tech that I'm unaware of, so I'll let that one go.
This SCIENCE MOMENT however, is about where the story takes place.
Continued at the SCIENCE MOMENT/Dead Space: Downfall.
DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL is an animated "Monsters On Our Spaceship" movie as seen in loads of SciFi Horror Thrillers from THIS ISLAND EARTH to IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE to ALIEN and more. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti (PAINKILLER JANE) and Justin Gray, and based on the characters and storyline in the EA game, DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL moves at a brisk clip with a comic book character ethos, and brings the Horror. Director Chuck Patton knows how to direct animated Horror, as he cut his teeth on SPAWN THE ANIMATED SERIES back in the 1990s. Yep. Story is good, direction is good, as for the animation: what the hell happened?
If you're a game player and you've already seen the incredibly cool game trailer, then you know how utterly wicked the game looks.
And the animation was already created. The backgrounds and 3D puppetry was all there. So why go to all of the expense and trouble of hand drawn animation, and then render it in what appears to be a choppy 6 frames per second? I mean, look at those game trailers! We were promised IRON MAN effects and we didn't even get South Park?
DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL was a direct to DVD movie made to support the game. And Palmiotti, Gray, and Patton all brought their A-game. Sequence directors Vincent Huek and Curt Geda (BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM, BATMAN BEYOND, X-MEN: EVOLUTION) really delivered on the action. What's more, the soundtrack by Seth Podowitz (IDENTITY LOST, PLAYHOUSE) has this nice creepy tech feel to it. But as good as all that is, the animation is lackluster. Quality-wise, it looks like something Hannah Barbera would put out back in the 1970s. Note I'm talking about the animation. No WAY would they ever put out the kind of story and action as you'll see in DEAD SPACE. The production values in this movie blow when compared to the game, and since the movie was made to support and sell the game, this is an important distinction. Why are the production values so awful? Not just low budget, but awful! It's not just the hand drawn look of the animation, that's acceptable. In fact it's as good as the animated SPAWN. But the movement on SPAWN was never this bad. Wow! It's the cheap choppy motion of too few frames of animation per second.
Blech! I guess it's the bait and switch that really galls me. We were promised one thing with the game trailers and got something else with the movie.
What's more, the game trailer is also on the DVD and the game box cover is included with the movie DVD so you can actually see how much better it could have been, which REALLY leaves me scratching my head! WTF? Are the producers of DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL intentionally trying to torpedo the game? I have no idea. I only know what it looks like.
So I'm giving DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL Three Shriek Girls. It's good, but nowhere near as good as it could have been and should have been. And since the money was already spent on making the game, this couldn't have been a budget issue. The writing, direction, and music, as well as we the audience and even the folks who made the actual game, all deserved better than this. More movies are planned for this franchise, so the producers better get their act together if they don't want to kill off their really cool game.
copyright 2008 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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