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Review - Film - Monsters, morals and muddles


Director: Vincenzo Natali

Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac

Released on DVD on November 29

Certificate: 15

Rating: 25

Splice has the potential to be dazzling, to really make you think about the wonderfully audacious themes that director Vincenzo Natali weaves into this sci-fi-cum-horror, but it cries out for a quality scriptwriter.

Natali claims that his inspiration for Splice came from news of a scientific experiment involving the attachment of a human ear to a mouse. This led him to conceive of the character of Dren, who is the result of hybrid animal and human DNA. Dren is the secret project of genetic scientists Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley). What begins as an attempt to help cure human diseases gets very much out of hand.

The film delves into moral and ethical issues, as well as questioning the role of humans playing God. Splice has similarities to the story of Adam and Eve, where Eve's mistake in giving into temptation creates a sequence of events and actions that culminate in eventual downfall.

I think Splice has too many unanswered questions. Its script may be full of creativity, but it lacks desire and intrigue. This is a film that will put you off your dinner, yet leave you wanting more.

Gareth Thomas, 16, the Boswells School, Chelmsford, Essex

Rating: 25

What's the worst thing that can happen?" asks Elsa (Sarah Polley) at the end of this film. Well, you could waste one hour and 40 minutes watching this mishmash of morality tale, monster movie and horror flick.

Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa are married genetic engineers, leading a team splicing DNA from different living organisms to create hybrids. Their next step is to use human DNA, but when their company pulls the plug on the project, Clive and Elsa secretly continue.

The result is Dren (Delphine Chaneac), a creature that initially resembles a plucked chicken, but develops into a being with a beautiful face and a nasty sting in its tail. Dren is initially a baby substitute for the childless Elsa, but as she grows and develops increasingly strange powers she becomes a frightening liability, both to the scientists' professional careers and their personal relationship.

Splice combines the moral panic over genetic engineering with the capitalist monster of greed in this muddled modern version of Frankenstein that is, frankly, sometimes ludicrous.

Brody and Polley do their best with the alarming changes in character the plot demands; sentimental and loving one minute, coldly scientific the next. Chaneac also succeeds in being, by turns, charming and frightening, Natali's direction is pacey and exciting, and the CGI used to create Dren's non-human appendages is impressive.

Julia Frascona, Filmclub leader, from the Boswells School, Chelmsford, Essex

Filmclub, a charity supported by Lovefilm, helps to set up after-school film clubs where children watch and discuss a range of films, promoting learning in an informal setting. Each week members of Filmclub will review everything from new releases to cinema classics. Join at www.filmclub.orgregister

Filmclub Pupil reviews

How to train your dragon

Director: Dean DeBlois

Starring: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson

Out now on DVD

Cert: PG

Rating: 45

I was very excited to see How To Train Your Dragon because I saw a special screening of it at London Zoo. The film is based on a series of books by Cressida Cowell, who was also at the screening. She told me she had seen the film about 20 times and she still finds it exciting and I agree after two viewings.

How To Train Your Dragon is set in Viking times and the lead character is called Hiccup and he is very funny. Hiccup's father is the leader of the Viking tribe of the village of Berk. The island has a pest problem: dragons!

Hiccup really wants to kill a dragon, but this all changes when he shoots down the most fearsome dragon ever, Night Fury. When he goes in search of the dragon and finds him stuck in ropes, he feels sorry for him. Hiccup doesn't kill him but ends up helping him.

The film is made by the team behind Shrek and the way they have done the dragons is really cool. My favourite bit was the battle scene because you don't know what is going to happen to the hero. You will have to watch it to find out. The people who do the voices are fabulous and make the film really funny, with brilliant Viking accents.

Milo Murray, seven, Hazelwood School, Palmers Green, north London

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Starring: Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Bromssen, Anki Liden

Out now on DVD

Cert: PG

Rating: 35

It is true when people say that you are influenced by the people surrounding you. If you grew up in a town where everyone smiled and was always cheery and you always felt safe, you would grow up to be a very nice and kind person.

But if you grew up in a world where the people you loved beat you and shouted, then you may grow up to be a very nasty and rude person because you haven't been taught to feel love to others. Or worse, you may become unsociable. And that means no friends - and no friends just makes you feel depressed and alone in a big cruel, empty world surrounded by smiling people.

Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius) always wants to be included, and the only way for him to achieve this is to copy people. He does not like to see bad things and gets along better with people who like the things he wants to do. For me, I think at first I got the wrong impression, but then I realised that he is just easily influenced by people who are actually not very good role models. They are all he has got, but in the end he shall be the better role model in future.

Sumayya Wright, 13, King Ecgbert School, Sheffield.

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