Godsend seemed more a clone of better pictures than one than can stand on its own. The premise was interesting enough that I hope there is a more seriously considered treatment out there.


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One of the most controversial topics in science, politics and religion today is that of human cloning. The ability to take a sample of DNA from a donor and genetically recreate that person has been fodder for science fiction for decades but now technology has placed this in the grasp of mere mortals.

The premise, and I use that term loosely here, of Godsend is a young couple, Paul (Greg Kinnear) and Jessie (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) have a happy life with their son Adam (Cameron Bright), that is until Adam meets with an untimely death shortly after his eight birthday. Naturally the parents are in shock, overcome with grief. Then, into their lives comes Dr. Richard Wells (Robert De Niro), brilliant, talented and very rich. He makes an offer to the Ducans, he can clone their son and in nine months they will have a replicate of their lost child. Wells has the now hopeful couple break all ties with their past and move to Vermont. After all a new child would be hard to explain, no couple would have another child after one died. The Ducans settle into their new home, one that looks like something from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The pregnancy and birth are rather uneventful as is the first eight years of the new Adam’s life. But once he passes the last birthday obtained by his hapless predecessor Adam 2.0 starts to change. Adam 2.0 begins to have nightmares; he acts out at school and announces that he long longer cares for his parents. The stage is set for horror but unfortunately very little arrived.

What fails in Godsend is ultimately the premise is not enough to hold what little plot there is together. While the horror film is a genre that can get by with limited premise, for example the Nightmare on Elm Street or Jason flicks, if you are going to introduce a quasi scientific foundation then it should have some relationship to reality. In Godsend, cloning is set up as the ultimate evil, but little if nothing is done to substantiate this. If there was more in the way of exploring the hubris of man and dangers of science the audience would have had something to hold on to. Godsend could have been a new Frankenstein, daring God by creating life. Instead we get a flimsy scaffold for a predicable horror flick. Godsend was promoted as a film about cloning but it fails to challenge the audience at all. The topic is so rich with political and moral issues that are only glossed over here instead of being used to enhance the plot.

This is a case of when good actors take on bad projects. Greg Kinnear has a natural humor and sense of timing, as displayed in ‘As Good As It Gets’ yet is afforded no opportunity to bring his true talents to the table. Instead he plays an almost brain dead sap of a character, a cartoon instead of a real person. There is no doubt that Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is one of the most beautiful people ever born, she even has talent as a character actor. While she can not hold a film on her own she can work well off of other actors. Here, she joins Kinnear in giving a one dimensional look at her character. The grieving mother is turned too easily around to being willing to engage in the scheme of the doctor. Robert De Niro is one of the best American actors to grace the screen, capable of serious drama and enjoyable comedy. Here is seems to have phoned in his role. He most have been given a boat load of money for this project, enough to make him put his professionalism on hold. Cameron Bright seems more like a clone of Harvey Stephens in the 1979 Omen. He plays his role as one born to the evil he commits, asocial and amoral.

Director Nick Hamm appears to have more of a talent to get notable actors to star in less than stellar thrillers. His flick ‘The Hole’ featured such up coming young stars as Thora Birch and Keira Knightley, but like Godsend, that was better than Godsend but still fell somewhat short. In Godsend Hamm seems to lack the pacing that is so critical to a film like this. While the first two acts move along nicely the all important third act drags and is mired down with predicable action. There is a forced feeling to the set design; they try too hard to make a familiar setting horrible and scary and wind up imitating other better done horror movies. Hamm has talent but I feel it is still developing. What is lacking here is being able to make a suitable payoff in the third act and meet the promise of the first two acts of the movie. There is a lack of a satisfying resolution to the conflicts created during Godsend. The audience has to feel that something was accomplished after sitting through the flick. Instead there is emptiness as the end credits role up. Horror and thrillers is a crowded genre with many fine directors involved. What Godsend needed was something more to hold the audience and make us feel emotionally invested in the characters. With such an emotionally charged subject matter it should have been better than the actual produce provided.

The DVD was typical of Lion’s Gate, well produced. The anamorphic video presented a crisp clean picture with an excellent balance of color and shading. The Dolby 5.1 audio produced a good sound stage but there was nothing exceptional in the use of the surround speakers, perhaps a little more in the way of unexpected shifts in the audio field could have added a bit here. Overall Godsend is a film that had a lot of unfulfilled potential. It seemed more a clone of better pictures than one than can stand on its own. The premise was interesting enough that I hope there is a more seriously considered treatment out there.

Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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