Video Game Adaptations- Dead Space: Aftermath
This isn’t so much of a review, more a polemic where I’m going to vent some spleen on a good idea completely butchered through sheer incompetence. Seriously, I like the idea of extending the Dead Space universe because it’s big, well thought out and fundamentally interesting. I also like the Rashomon idea of telling the same story from multiple points of view. However, I don’t like Dead Space Aftermath, and I doubly don’t like pissing all over good ideas through a combination of incompetence and trying to be too fucking clever.
Dead Space Aftermath picks up the story of the doomed rescue mission conducted by the USS O’Bannon (HAR-DE-FUCKING-HAR) which is ostensibly attempting to find survivors of the Ishimura and also to try to retrieve whatever Isaac left of the alien artifact known as The Marker. There are problems with Unitologists again, and the film unfolds in four flashbacks on board the Sprawl. This, actually, is a fucking good idea. Credit where it’s due. Unfortunately, for one very big reason that I’m going to go into in a moment (and you’ll spot why from the pictures), this is a fundamentally terrible film that narrowly ducks an Orangutan of Doom based entirely on the fact that it is such a good idea.
Firstly, I’m going to give credit where it is due. The end of the game Dead Space wasn’t particularly open for sequelisation. The story of the Ishimura and the Colony Aegis VII is pretty much completed. There’s nothing really to say. This is a very neat solution to that problem that allows more expansion on the universe, and the differing view points of the various characters are interesting to watch.
Secondly, the voice acting is quite good. Gwendoline Yeo who plays Isabel Cho (arguably the heroine) is quite passable, but prone to histrionics, Graham McTavish is not bad at all as the Captain, Curt Cornelius is suitably insane as Stross, Ricardo Chavira reasonable as Borges and Christopher Judge is meh as Kuttner.
Unfortunately, the pacing is miles off. The film should be wall to wall action and horror. It isn’t, the action eventually wakes up in the third story, but by then it is far too little far too late. This, therefore, leaves a serious problem- what the hell is the point of watching? I believe we’re meant to give a red fuck about the characters. We don’t, and the reason we don’t is that they have less depth than those cardboard cut-outs that we used to see in Cinema lobbies. They’re fucking terrible, single-dimension, one-motivation arseholes to a man. For example, we’re told Kuttner loves his dead daughter, so when he starts to lose it, you’ll never guess who he sees in his hallucination. It’s sub-undergraduate level writing.
The sound design is quite good as well- it makes good use of the creepy singing of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the sounds of metal rending etc are not bad. It hasn’t got a fraction of the atmosphere of the first film, let alone the game, but it isn’t a bad attempt.
Nevertheless, though, what really sinks the film, and this is what the remaining 400ish words of this review are going to be about, is the animation. Who the fuck thought contracting 5 different studios and giving them different briefs was a good idea? Furthermore, which genius looked at the quality of work being turned out by the various animators and said “That’s it, we wanted our film to look like utter shit on a stick”.
The worst offender, by a fucking long way, is whichever group of hacks did the book-endings. This is, unquestionably, some of the worst CGI that it has been my misfortune to witness. I haven’t seen animation this bad since the early days of the PS1, and I cannot for the life of me fathom what the fuck they were aiming at. It looks hideous. Honestly, there isn’t one redeeming feature to it- it’s clearly “fake” looking, it’s garish, it’s jerky as a crack addict scoring money for his next fix, and above all else it’s jarring and aggravating. The blood in this scene is BRIGHT FUCKING CRIMSON, for the love of god. I’m not joking when I say that the animation in the link scenes is below A-Level standard. Absolutely disgraceful.
The story scenes themselves are all variable in quality. The best animation is probably the most stylised pure Anime section that tells Cho’s story (and it has nudity) but by the time you make it to this stage then you won’t give a bucket of miscarriages. A nice touch, to be fair, is that each character looks different in each installment, Cho, for example is willowy sex bomb in her bit, but dumpy nagging shrew in Stross’. Nevertheless, as I say telling the story from the various perspectives in different styles wasn’t a bad idea. Unfortunately the level of hackery involved in the actual execution leaves a vast amount to be desired.
Let me put it this way- they could be telling the most fascinating, gripping story ever told, but if it looks like shit, and is hideously jarring on more than one occasion, then it doesn’t fucking matter as you’re just not going to give a fuck. I certainly didn’t. It, therefore, doesn’t matter how good the original idea is, or how clever the story is (not that clever) or even how action packed it is, but if I’m watching animation that looks like the bastard lovechild of Jimmy Fucking Neutron and Sucker Punch then, frankly, you can take your Rashomon inspired horseshit and jam it right up your arse.
Dead Space Aftermath is a crushing disappointment, and there’s only one rating I can give this. The idea is good enough for it to duck an Orangutan of Doom, but the execution is so bad that I’ve got little choice. I give Dead Space Aftermath a Horny Pooch of Failure and please let there be no more of these.
Complete and utter shit, and it may not be obvious, but I don’t recommend this.
Until next time,