Dead Space: Aftermath
by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from EA and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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This animated follow-up to EA’s popular 2008 survival-horror video game, Dead Space, finds the USG O’Bannon, following the events of the game, responding to the distress signal of the USG Ishimura and subsequently overwhelmed by Necromorphs. Aftermath’s story of the ill-fated O’Bannon is related by the mission’s four sole survivors, each with their own, conveniently chronological piece of the tale to relate to their rescuers. (Note that the ship from which the survivors originate is named after Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon and that a character mentioned in the movie shares the name of Alien’s protagonist, Ripley. I’m not entirely sure what this has to do with anything, but it’s there.)
Each of the four survivors’ stories, as well as the wraparound sequence, are done in a different style of animation (although honestly, the interior four segments are not all that dissimilar). The worst of these styles is unfortunately found the wraparound sequence, which is characterized by extremely bland computer animation— animation that is of lower quality than the game itself and fails to capture the feel of the game entirely. It is unfortunate that this is the backbone of the movie, for its general shoddiness is extremely off-putting; and any advancement made in engaging the viewer in the individual survivors’ tales is consequently lost immediately on return to the wraparound sequence. Further impeding our attachment to the characters and their plight is the suits worn by the characters while on mission in the first two survivors’ tales. The suits are the same as that worn by Isaac Clarke in the game, with full body armor and helmet, making it near impossible to differentiate the characters from one another. And when you are able to tell them apart, they’re frankly not all that interesting or well-written to begin with. Furthermore, the movie simply isn’t scary as the game is. Rather than being attacked by Necromorphs bursting from grates, breaking through walls, or popping out from the shadows as in the game, the characters are approached head-on by hordes of beasties. Although this provides for a bit of action and excitement later on, it’s back to the wraparound and general audience disinterest once again for the conclusion.
Aftermath’s release is timed to coincide with the release of EA’s multi-platform video game, Dead Space 2, also out today, and the Aftermath disc features only a trailer for the game in way of bonus materials.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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