Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It's funny how some of the most fictitious and fantastical movies end up touching the core of what it means to be human more than anything else. Some examples are 'Dark City,' a truly amazing Science Fiction spectacle, or 'The Truman Show,' which took an implausible premise to set up its powerful message about human independence. This is exactly what Andrew Niccol (who actually was the writer of 'The Truman Show') does with the 'Gattaca,' a touching, yet never cloying sci-fi drama. Niccol writes and directs the film, which creates an extraordinary world, that, as the opening of the film tells us, is in the not-too-distant future. Society has taken to the idea of using advanced technology to create the greatest possible human. With the technology they can predict immediately what physical and mental problems the baby might have in the future. To create the greatest possible child, scientists genetically engineer the baby so that it has its parents' greatest qualities. The central character is Vincent (Ethan Hawke), who is born without the use of this technology, and is therefore considered an in-valid. His dream is to make it to outer-space, but only the genetically engineered 'valids' are able to partake in this journey. So Vincent decides to take the identity of another, in this case Jerome, played by Jude Law. He uses Jerome's blood, hair, tissue, and urine to pass the tests to get into the Gattaca space program and fulfill his dream. This is just the introduction to an otherwise dense plot that is as much about story as it is about the moral questions surrounding perfection and what it means to be a 'flawed human being.' I believe 'Gattaca' is one of the greatest Science Fiction movies ever made and I don't say that in jest. This is a real piece of intellectualism mixed with brilliant scientific ideas. It creates countless questions for discussion and in my mind raises the bar for what a movie's IQ can become. Few movies are as wise and thoughtful as 'Gattaca' is. But the great thing about it is that it's also a masterfully crafted suspense story that keeps the audience immensely entertained while at the same time elevating their level of curiosity. 'Gattaca' is a singularly great motion picture that leaves an indelible mark on the watcher. It's impossible not to think about.