Monday, August 3, 2015

MR Dead Space Aftermath

Movie: Dead Space: Aftermath 
Directed by Mike Disa
Release date 2011
Genre Science-fiction/horror animated film
Country USA

What was even the point to make this animated film like this? I don't even..

Oh, don't misunderstand me. I perfectly get why EA wanted to make this film in the first film. The first one was more or less successful enough to warrant a sequel, plus it tied nicely into both the continuity of the franchise as well as help boost the hype of the release of the second game (while making some money at the same time, better than just random internet ads and free behind the scenes stuff).

This second Dead Space animated film, Dead Space: Aftermath, was produced to coincide with the release of the survival horror game Dead Space 2. It doesn't necessary tie into its predecessor Dead Space: Downfall, rather it's a whole new separate storyline.

And just like Downfall it was used to bridge the gab between the games and serves as a prequel of sort to the second episode.

Unlike most Dead Space multi-media material, Aftermath was not written by good well-known popular comic book writers but by EA's own staff. But don't let that put you off, despite being written by no less than a 4-man team of writers - Brandon Auman, Mike Disa, Chuck Beaver and Joe Goyette - the story turned out actually pretty decent. No, the problem lies elsewhere. The actual issue many and myself have with the film is with the actual production of the film.

But let's start from the beginning, shall we?

The story takes place some time after the events of the first Dead Space, shortly after the main protagonist of the games the engineer Isaac Clarke was able to return the "Red Marker" to the surface of the planet Aegis VII, which was responsible for creating all the Necromorph monsters in the first place. The planet began coming apart...

People lost contact with the USG Ishimura and the colony on Aegis VII. A ship was sent there to retrieve some material, the USG O'Bannon (which is obviously a not-so subtle allusion to the screen writer of Alien, Dan O'Bannon). But soon after that, they also lost contact with the O'Bannon. A new ship from the Concordance Extraction Corporation was able to locate the O'Bannon floating around in space. When the marines got their feet aboard, they found countless mutilated bodies all over the ship and only 4 remaining survivors - a security officer Nicholas Kuttner, an engineer named Alejandro Borgas, Nolan Stross the chief science officer and Isabella Cho, the chief medical officer.

The big guy Kuttner immediately starts shooting at marines.. He's been having a lot of hallucinations and doesn't seem to still have his head on his houlders. They're brought to "The Sprawl" (main location of Dead Space 2), where they are sent one by one to be interrogated by this guy, the Overseer. He only has 7 hours to determinate exactly what happened, after what every record will be purged to keep the dealings of the "Church of Unitology" in obscurity from the main public. Each character taking turn to give his own point of view of the tale.

The first tale is that of Kuttner. They make him talk by threatening him with his fear of being burned alive. He's been having visions of his long-dead daughter Vivian, which started as soon as he got his hands on a shard from the Marker. It's getting increasingly worse, he apparently went on a killing spree and killed on of the engineer guys in his rampage. After telling his story he escapes, killing several more marines, before opening the airlock killing himself in the process...

Next up his Borgas. He continues the tale from the point where they were forced to make it back to the shuttle with a crazed Kuttner. He did some serious damages and forced the shuttle to crash as the entire system was about to blow up. He asked the Captain what the real reason behind this trip and why they needed this "Marker". He asked too many questions. They pretended to let him get back home, only to kill him from his back.

After that we have Stross, which is the main feature of this film. Our Dr. Stross was working aboard the O'Bannon, he gave his entire life to the pursue of science and was now living on the shipping with his wife and young son. With the shard of the Marker back in the labs, he started studying it closely. He was getting more and more consumed by the shard. Meanwhile his wife was suspecting him to be having an affair. Well, she wasn't that off, since he actually was having one, but the real reason he was getting so distant lately was that studying shard was slowing affecting him. This research became an obsession, and soon his sole objective in life. He was finally able to understand some of the markings, how the Marker possibly came from higher beings with the power to reshape DNA. Wanting to test it, he tole a body from the morgue... that's when he accidentally infected the entire ship and let the Necromorph invasion break loose, killing everyone on its path and repurposing human flesh to spread the contagion. Stross tried hiding inside his own quarters, but he was forced to kill his own family thinking the Necromorphs already got to them. Since he is now able to understand the Marker, they decided to keep him for study.

Finally we have our last story, Dr. Isabella Cho's own account from that point onwards until the marines found our crew. She was really having an affair with Stross. Once Stross started analyzing the shard and getting obsessed with the Marker, he started acting way off. She noticed the disappearance of all the bodies in the morgue, only to be surprised by the Necromorphs killing every member of the personnel one by one. She rushed to Stross's living quarters only to find his wife and son killed. Our last remaining crew joined the Captain and tried to make a break for it. They fight off the infestation as long as possible. In the end only four survivors were able to flee and survive the Necromorphs.

We finally learn how their superiors knew about the Marker and its effects all along, and just wanted to use our protagonists as human guinea pigs to study it. The Overseer offers Cho a position to help the project, but she refuses. So they have her killed. We later learn how they're keeping Stross for study. They only found two people that made a direct contact with the Marker and lived to tell the tale. The other one was this engineer they found floating inside a shuttle... a certain Isaac Clarke.

Ready to take on Dead Space 2...

The story of this film is really its best and only good decent aspect.

The problem with the film is in its presentation. Film Roman contracted five different studios to animate the film different animation styles. You have these different perspectives from the four crew members as well as a book-end tale connecting them all.

The "present day" footage was entirely made with pretty rudimentary CGi by a Korean animation studio. It simply looks... really poor at times. It's really cringe worthy at first. While the environments and the suits look sort of good, since they're directly taken from the games, the humans look so bad... They're very basic low-detail models that reminded me some of those awful 90s CGi cartoons.

The flashback are done via plain regular 2D animation. Actually they gave these segments to different Japanese animation studios, and while it's nothing spectacular it does give each story a slightly different look from flashback to flashback depending on who's talking.

The switch back and forth is really jarring. The 3D visuals are just too amateurish and detract from the story. The flashbacks are the high point of the film. They're really fun and you slowly piece the whole story together through the different sequences.

Some attention to the details was put here and there, the little details how each character sees themselves slightly different. Like Doctor Cho herself would see herself in much better light than how Stross pictures her. The first character Kuttner gives us probably the most interesting and captivating point of view.

The characters don't exactly look the same across one art style to the next, but you won't really recognize them when you're hit with the 3D graphics.

The most horrific scene of the entire film is probably the brief sex scene we get between two characters, it's just.. weird. And kind of ugly to loko at.

The film is pretty gory and the voice acting is actually pretty decent. You do wonder how Isaac even survived all this by himself though...

Finally Christopher Tin's music is equally forgettable. It's just serviceable at best, there's nothing much to it, it's nothing like what Jason Graves did for the games...

Overall, Dead Space Aftermath is just okay.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in January 2011, alongside Dead Space 2. It could have been a lot worse, sure, but I really feel like it could have been so much better too.

And you almost see it pulling through a few times.. The story is certainly interesting. Each survivor giving his own tale, how they all manage to survive differently through this mess. It's a pretty decent storyline that comes together nicely at the end, the story playing around the chronology to keep you on edge. It makes for an interesting and compelling film. Plus it's also pretty gruesome. I like to witness how each one of them lose their mind in their own way and having the point of view jump around.

But the CGi animation was just terrible. Ugly. It almost ruins the tension. Using different animation styles really detract, plus the 3D visuals are just too cheap for Dead Space.

The story itself is the sole reason why you should check this out, it's actually not that bad. Give It A Look.

I give it:
1.5 / 3 DonPatchis!

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