Thursday, April 4, 2019

Replicas review

Look as an amateur film critic, I should judge a movie on how good it is not reasons I want you to see a flick. But there are three reasons I like Replicas as a guilty pleasure. I'll tell you two of them now so you can skip this or read this short review. One. Trump really hates the people of Puerto Rico. And they've suffered from Hurricane Maria. No matter how you feel about Trump, the people of Puerto Rico  are our citizens. Replicas was filmed there. And I hope more films are made there to help the economy. Two. Alice Eve co-stars. Look, she took a bad rap from politically correct Trekkies for the underwear scene in Star Trek Into the Darkness (2013) She's an excellent actress who deserves more work.

Replicas is about scientist William Foster (Keanu Reeves) who is trying to map a dead man's brain onto an android, giving control of the android's functions over to a human albeit a dead one. And it's not working well. His assistant is an expert in cloning, Ed. (Thomas Middleditch) Living with William on Puerto Rico is Foster's wife Mona (Alice Eve) and their three children. They're pretty much your normal, happy family until disaster happens. On a family outing, Foster has an auto accident. Mona and the kids are killed. Well, this being a science fiction movie, you can guess what happens next. William will attempt to bring his family back with the use of cloning and the brain mapping technology.

I'm not a big Keanu Reeves fan. I like many of his films but have found his acting to be stiff as if he doesn't seem to understand who his character is. At times he sounds like he's merely reading his lines. Here, he is no different than his other performances. Inconsistent. There are times he's quite good, other times not so much. English Alice Eve does a good American accent and is excellent in this film. She demonstrates the confusion of the horror, curiosity and emotional attachment to her family needed for this movie. John Ortiz is the William's boss, Jones. He's appropriately harsh and mercenary.

Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff is competent. Action scenes are clear and he relates the drama well. One big problem. The film clearly has budget issues. The decision to use CGI for the android was a mistake. It looks like an old fashioned stop motion character. The better decision should have been to use an actor in costume. The movement would have been smoother.

Stephen Hamel's story and Chad St. John's screenplay is fascinating. It made me think, "What does it mean to be a human?" I wondered do we have souls? One issue though. Jones' actions are barely explained and the screenplay expects you to accept how he knows things. It would have been better to have scenes that demonstrate his motives. I'm talking about a scene in the third act where you will ask yourself, "How did Jones figure that out?" And while it's explained with a throwaway line, it comes off lazy.

Replicas will surprise you. Because you will expect this movie to go down the horror movie path. I mean bringing back loved ones from death almost never works. It's the unexpected direction into William's agony that makes this movie work. Rent this one.   The grade is B.

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