A 75-minute videogame commercial, an underused Capt. Sheridan, leftover Halo villains, the Scorpion King's main squeeze, a former Knight of Prosperity, more hideous demon-zombies than my last family reunion, and a not-so subtle swipe at Scientology?
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Space, an animated frontier. A group of explorers on the mining planet of Aegis 7 Cygnus discovers a huge monolithic structure rising from the rock. The object features mysterious markings that may have religious significance, like God and junk, and has drawn the interest of the Church of Unitology. Soon, a spaceship called the Ishimura arrives and lifts the object from the surface using anti-gravity lasers or some such shit, but by doing so takes a huge chunk of the planet with them. The resulting bursts of magnetic energy, which the Captain (Jim Cummings) explains as the planet “crying out in agony”, knocks the Ishimura around and rattles nerves. Meanwhile, the ship's security officer Alissa Vincent (Nika Futterman) broods and yells at everyone for no apparent reason because as security officer, it’s her duty to be an overly aggressive pain in the ass. Once the ship begins its trek back to where the object can be dissected and studied, weird things start to happen. Crew members go nuts and attack each other with extreme ferocity. Corpses come back to life with twisted and distorted torsos and extra limbs and teeth. Large vaginas with wings suck the brains out of victims. You know, ordinary cartoon fare. Alissa’s small group of elite troops who hate each other attempts to destroy the creatures and save the ship, but are overwhelmed by the supernatural onslaught. And a conflict between scientific and religious imperatives brews between the Captain and the rest of the crew as they cope with the unimaginable evil held within the object lifted from the planet that may hold dire consequences for the entire universe if you don't buy DEAD SPACE!
Dead Space: Downfall is a prequel to the science-fiction/horror videogame Dead Space, and as introduction to the world of the game, I guess it succeeds. I have not played the game, but assume that it’s a first-person shooter game in the vein of Doom, Quake, Halo, et al, and have heard that the game’s atmospherics are frighteningly effective, if you are into that kind of thing. The movie, however, cannot boast of such effectiveness. The animation is pretty poor, the script is plain, the characters cookie-cutter, and the story less than inspired, borrowing elements from Aliens and Event Horizon. There is no attempt at bringing something new or fresh to the horror sci-fi genre, but I don’t think that’s this film’s point. Its only function is to tantalize you into buying the game; it’s a 75-minute commercial, pure and simple. Although there’s plenty of gore and crazy zombie shit, it’s nothing we haven’t already seen, like an average Saturday morning on the Cartoon Network. The movie’s other function is as a cheater’s guide for those about to play the game. Hint #1: use the laser chainsaw thing to chop up the fat zombie. Hint #2: shoot the twisted multi-limbed zombies in the knees to bring them down. Hint #3: buy DEAD SPACE!