Saturday, 29 June 2013

Dead Space: Aftermath (Film Review)

... This is probably the worst kind of film to look at. When it's good it's outstanding, but when it's bad? It contains every cliche imaginable and lacks any truly redeemable factors.

Following on from the events from Dead Space, in the wake of the disaster surrounding the Ishimura and Aegis VII, the film unsurprisingly emphasises upon the aftermath of events. Having lost their major objective, the Unitologists set about trying to recover anything of value from the disaster. With ties to a number of fleet captains, the religion assembles a group of specialists and a ship to transport them in before sending them after traces of the marker.
Days later their ship is discovered adrift, the crew slaughtered and only a handful of survivors hold up in the engine room. Employing a ruthless interrogator, they begin extracting the stories of what happened from each of the survivors.

The film shares a number of elements with another of Film Roman's productions, Dante's Inferno. Often bombastic, insanely over the top and with characters yelling, the studio utilised a number of different artistic styles for each part of the film. To give the film credit, unlike Inferno the film has far more of a reason to be structured in this fashion. The previous film utilised different art styles and designs to differ between the levels of hell. The chief problem with this was dramatic shifts in character designs, environments and basic elements which otherwise would be consistent.

With Aftermath it is used to give a different flavour to each person's perspective and change events in subtle ways. For example, the death of a character in the first viewpoint tale is relatively bloodless and limited in terms of visible wounding. This is done due to a lack of connection with the focus character and their state of mind during this time. When it switches to the brother of the dying man, his wounds are far more horrific and he's visibly suffering while dying. Something emphasising on the emotional trauma of the event and how perspectives of things could change as a result of emotions or being closer to something. 

Where it fails is in the CGI'd sequences between such moments. It makes sense to have somewhat clinically clean or stiff movements to contrast with the more emotive artistic sequences, but the quality here is insanely low grade. People complained about the CGI quality in things like Ultramarines,but here? It's on par with your average episode of Reboot, if not worse at times. While the actors might be doing their best with what they are given, the limitations of the graphics on screen are a constant distracting factor and simply look crude. Horrifying moments such as a bleeding child look cartoonish at best, while others like spiders seem so basic it's hard to believe they were not made to be intentionally fake.

The voice acting talent of the film itself is varied. Unfortunately Aftermath went with the celebrity route and tried to rope as many big names into its cast as possible. While this sometimes works, as the Animated DCU has proven many times with the likes of Clancy Brown and David Warner, it doesn't always work. Christopher Judge and Ricardo Chavira in particular feel out of their element with characters which are either vaguely written or just don't fit them, while Peter Woodward and Kari Wahlgren fit their roles perfectly. The same really goes with the writing, strong with one character and extremely weak with the next. This is especially problematic with the first two tales which are far too event focused and despite some personal elements involved fail to really utilise their characters to any great extent. Lacking the individual touches and depth that they could have offered.

The main plot itself is hindered by its introduction. We know which characters will survive, what the state of the ship will be and it ultimately makes the plot predictable. In and event by event examination, it really has little to offer. Besides some hints as to the Unitologist's methods in covering up Aegis VII and brief ties into Dead Space II, it felt too tidy and lacking in developing any major part of the universe. You could argue that Downfall was the same, but as a prequel that's somewhat excusable.

The film is ultimately at its best once the characters leave Aegis VII and are dealing with problems on-board the ship. Well paced explosive sequences and a far more horrific descent into madness by one character help to spice up the otherwise bland plot, giving something for the audience to engage in. The latter is easily the best part of the film, showing the world dissolving around the character and the insanity of the marker truly setting in as he tried to understand the artifact. Unfortunately it really proves to be too little to keep the film afloat.

While it might give some added depth to one part of Dead Space II, this is really only one for devoted fans of the franchise. It has a handful of interesting elements, but it fails to do enough to justify purchase. Skip it and stick with Downfall if you're looking for a Dead Space film.

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