Summer Double Feature Part I: “Gattaca”

Andrew Niccol’s work as writer/director has usually impressed me, with this, The Truman Show (as writer only) and Simone (as both of the roles.)

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Ethan Hawke as Vincent Freeman
Uma Thurman as Irene Cassini
Jude Law as Jerome Morrow

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol

Complete information is available from the IMDB.

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

In the future, a person’s genetic makeup determines everything about
that person’s life, prospects and career.

High Point

The pre-flight checkup was a great moment. After all, they’d need to
have a talented doctor for the group, and this allows them to have
that without losing credibility.

Low Point

Not being recognized by Ceasar. (This was corrected in the deleted
scenes, but I think it should have been a part of the final cut.)

The Scores

This feels surprisingly original, considering that it’s a
stylistic and thematic return to the sci-fi of the 1960s and 1970s,
warning us of about dangers to society if we do not change our ways.
I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are minimal and transparent. 6 out of 6.

The story uses plausible science with disturbingly plausible
outcomes. The plot holds together, with a mix of character work and
societal implications to keep things going both “on the surface” and
in the deeper implications. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting is as cold as the society depicted. I’m sure it’s
just what the director ordered. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is most effective in terms of
implications than in terms of the actual plot. Personally, I find
that the love story portion doesn’t work at all. I give it 5 out of
6.

The production was paced and shot like 1970s sci-fi. It’s a
distinct style, but filming techniques have evolved in significant
ways since then. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a very good movie, and a great example of hard
sci-fi. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Gattaca receives 35 out of 42.

11 replies on “Summer Double Feature Part I: “Gattaca””

  1. Babbster says:

    Loved This Movie
    I watch Gattaca about twice a year. It’s just one of those movies that works for me every time I watch it, and not just because it’s sci-fi. I found the performances to be just excellent, and it’s visually beautiful (it was one of my early “demo” DVDs on the fancy [now outdated] NTSC widescreen RPTV). Further, despite the message it’s designed to give, Gattaca can still make one think that it might not be SO bad if everyone was genetically “perfect.” After all, might we not get many Einstein-level intellects even if Einstein himself was lost? Being very imperfect myself, I don’t know. Some better anti-discrimination laws and Gattaca’s world might have been just fine? Again, I’m just not smart enough to figure that out…

    As usual, I’ll make a comment on the “low point,” and that’s just that I thought Caesar DID recognize Vincent and that the way they showed it was cool in that it was subtle – maybe TOO subtle? Anyway, I liked it. :)

  2. octa says:

    .
    This is, so far, my favorite movie of all time. The acting is fantastic all around but Jude Law especially stole the show in my opinion. The questions it asks about our society and the corporate structure have generated great debates amongst my friends.

    In particular it almost parallels the issues we have with illegal immigration currently. Having lived in Los Angeles I’ve known a few illegal immigrants in school and at work who have to live a very clandestine life just to get by. These aren’t evil people by any means, they are simply put in a situation(not always by their choosing) where they have to lie about themselves just to get any respect or equal treatment. Whether what they do is right or wrong is not for me to judge.

    It’s a testament to dramatic sci-fi and social commentary. Deserves a place in a top ten list somewhere :)

  3. chad says:

    Worth Watching

    This is one of those movies that really makes you think but isn’t that great otherwise, sort of like The Sixth Day (where the topic was cloning). It shows a realistic depiction of what society could be like if we were able to genetically engineer our children. (What they don’t show, of course, are the freaks—it’s just superior humans. What about people who have children with wings, or gills, or who make chimeras….)

    Definitely worth watching once.

    • Daemonik says:

      Re: Worth Watching

      (What they don’t show, of course, are the freaks—it’s just superior humans. What about people who have children with wings, or gills, or who make chimeras….)

      Definitely worth watching once.

      Ahh, but you’re forgetting the six fingered piano player.

  4. Philo says:

    Best SFmovie ever
    Gattaca is absolutely my favorite SF movie. Contrary to the Hollywood notion that SF has to be about special effects, Gattaca does SF the way good SF litterature does it: it uses a futuristic setting to explore modern-day issues, and let its characters evolve.

    And I think this is a movie with a lot to say. The relationship between Jerome and Vincent is complex and poignant, and the movie’s themes are summed up so brilliantly in the swimming sequence at the end… “I never saved anything for the swim back.” It’s a movie about the triumph of free will and determination.

    • Grounded says:

      Re: Best SFmovie ever
      Definitely in the top 10 sci-fi movies ever made. I saw this some time after seeing the two godawful Matrix sequels and was stunned by how the whole thing came together purely through the story and the performances. Faith-restoring.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: Best SFmovie ever

        It’s among the best of a certain type, already identified here: the social-commentary SF film. I wondered why they had to give samples so often. Wouldn’t they just take them once (or occasionally) and then take a fingerprint scan or retinal scan afterwards?

        Waaaaaaay better than “Soylent green is people! It’s peeeeeeeople!!

        • Babbster says:

          Re: Best SFmovie ever

          I wondered why they had to give samples so often. Wouldn’t they just take them once (or occasionally) and then take a fingerprint scan or retinal scan afterwards?

          Fingerprint scans seem to easy to fool, even given current technology. Retinal scans are more reasonable and would probably assure security. In their world of genetic castes and the ability to somehow identify DNA in a matter of moments, though, blood would indeed probably come to be accepted as the most sure method of individual identification. Also, since the movie was about a space program, it’s reasonable to assume that they would be striving for the highest security possible. Given the number of hoops a person had to jump through in that organization it does seem unlikely in the extreme that someone could fool their system, and I think the movie demonstrated adequately the commitment it would require from both the imposter and the “impostee.” In other words, I doubt a bank manager would be required to submit to daily identification checks.

          • quantaman says:

            Re: Best SFmovie ever

            I wondered why they had to give samples so often. Wouldn’t they just take them once (or occasionally) and then take a fingerprint scan or retinal scan afterwards?

            Fingerprint scans seem to easy to fool, even given current technology. Retinal scans are more reasonable and would probably assure security. In their world of genetic castes and the ability to somehow identify DNA in a matter of moments, though, blood would indeed probably come to be accepted as the most sure method of individual identification. Also, since the movie was about a space program, it’s reasonable to assume that they would be striving for the highest security possible. Given the number of hoops a person had to jump through in that organization it does seem unlikely in the extreme that someone could fool their system, and I think the movie demonstrated adequately the commitment it would require from both the imposter and the “impostee.” In other words, I doubt a bank manager would be required to submit to daily identification checks.

            Also consider that being a space program they want to make sure their astronauts are taking care of themselves.

            Recall early in the movie when Vincent was going for the interview and Eugene’s urine samples were registering high alcohol. You’re already testing someone, might as well make it a blood sample and make sure they’re not on drugs at the same time.

        • y42 says:

          Re: Best SFmovie ever

          I wondered why they had to give samples so often. Wouldn’t they just take them once (or occasionally) and then take a fingerprint scan or retinal scan afterwards?

          Because it’s a dystopic future where gene-mapping technology is so fast and cheap that it is commonplace in all aspects of society. Furthermore, an iris or fingerprint can be copied without the original owner’s participation or knowledge (take a picture of his eyes, make contact lenses / lift a finger print, make a latex fingertip prosthesis), but fresh genetic samples, with normal daily variations, are “impossible” to fake… unless you’re REALLY motivated, that is.

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