[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B000I8G5B2″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51jKc14DnlL._SL160_.jpg” width=”107″] I believe there are three kinds of movies that pass as sci-fi: 1) Standard stories merely transferred into a futuristic setting; 2) Special effects showcase reels (often teamed with a cartoon-style superhero theme); and 3); Stories which explore the implications of advanced science. It’s a shame so few sci-fi movies fall into the third category. Gattaca is one of the those few.
The basic premise is that everyone is genetically “read” at birth and their prospects entirely governed by those hard-wired abilities. Most younger people have been “customized” at conception for specific abilities and had weaknesses screened out.
If your parents trusted entirely to chance then you’re a “faith baby” and probably burdened with defects. If you’ve got a weak heart (like our hero in this story), then your prospects are dim. Sure you can apply to be an astronaut, but after a glance at your less-than-perfect health stats, your application will inevitably fail.
If you’ve somehow missed out on seeing this movie so far I won’t detail too much of the plot or give any spoilers, it’s enough to say that our genetically imperfect hero cleverly bluffs his way into the space academy (Gattaca).
There’s a lot to like in this movie and it’s all the better for the way it has avoided the usual curse of sci-fi movies which is their tendency to date.
What dates sci-fi movies?
– Music (either in barscenes as part of the movie, or the theme music itself)
– Tweaking current day fashions
– Computer graphics. You can’t portray future technology using present technology. Put fancy animations on today’s most expensive high-end system and in 10 years it’s going to look embarrassing.
Gattaca avoids almost all these dangers, but still has a few flaws, such as the prevalence of paper, or the fact that spinal injuries can’t be cured or even mechanically assisted.
One particularly clever device to avoid problems is to go retro. The movie Dark City set its people in a 1940s film noir setting, and Gattaca takes a large slice of the same period. The cars are powered by some sort of plugin technology, but the styling is pure retro.
Likewise the fashions are classic. I loved the suits and evening gowns, and it’s refreshing to see gender differences clearly portrayed rather than retreating into asexual “equality” neuters. Gender differences don’t have to imply a particular gender dominance.
My favorite minor character is Dr Lamar. His final scene with Vincent and the simultaneous conversations are wonderfully done and quite touching.
The fate of real Jerome is symbolic though perhaps gruesome and you have to wonder what sort of a welcome Vincent will get in a year’s time.
In all Gattaca is a superior sci-fi classic. It’s big on science and style, and happily short on the silly overdone comic-book effects that dominate so much modern pap which masquerades as sci-fi. Best of all, there’s not a cheesy superhero to be seen.
Various editions of Gattaca (and one of Dark City) available on Amazon:
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