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'Gattaca' falls short; not engineered well

Nov. 5, 1997

'Gattaca' falls short; not engineered well

By Zachary Hinkle

Impulse Editor for

The Baylor Lariat

With the cloning craze on and a McCarthy-esque bastion of gen-ethicists following on its heels, the smart money bet that Hollywood would soon produce a movie dealing with the touchy-feely side of genetic engineering, and won.

Made-for-TV movies may have beat it to the viewing public with prime-time travesties like Cloned, but Columbia-Tri Star's sci-fi flick Gattaca doesn't fall much higher on the evolutionary scale.

This movie had all the tell-tale signs of a classic sci-fi 'b-movie,' this time with a big budget.

From the ultra-clean byways and work places to the annoying humming electric cars, writer and director Andrew Niccol's work lacks the ingenuity that could have made this story -- one about faith in humanity and the will to survive -- a truly great one.

In the 'not so distant future,' we see a world venturing to become as perfect as it can be through pre-impregnation genetic engineering. Even social shortcomings such as overeating and myopia are filtered out.

While it is still illegal to discriminate (a tricky throwback to today's social climate), the best employers are interested only in the genetically superior, while the inferior are doomed to lives in service industries.

The genetically in-valid Vincent (Ethan Hawke) finds himself against odds, thanks to his parents who decided against engineering him. The second born, however, was luckier and made to be perfect.

Nevertheless, Vincent escapes his ensnarement through some fraudulent tight-ropewalking to reach for the stars, or moons. Along the way, he escapes constant sadistic subjection to random substance tests and DNA identification by his employer and suspicious police investigating a murder.

All the elements are there, but dank sets and slow-moving dialogue more often than not left one wondering if these enhanced humans were any more quick-witted than our cave-dwelling ancestors.

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