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Christopher Webster [DVD News 01.27.09] post apocalyptic movie review cyberpunk scifi dvd dystopic

Year: 2007
DVD Release date: February 27, 2009
Directors: Pearry Reginald Teo
Writers: Keith Collea / Pearry Reginald Teo
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Detractors can say what they want about the technical shortcomings of the finished film but there's no arguing that Pearry Reginald Teo's The Gene Generation betrays it's creators as being some of the most audacious and talented genre filmmakers in the business. I mean, not only did they take a script that was probably as easy to wrap one's brain around as a flux capacitor instruction manual - what with talk of black market gene hacking, secret assassin leagues, and various double crosses - but they decided to tell the intricate story in an entirely original world, built from scratch on the thinest of budgets. And man, what a wild world it is. So wild in fact, this might be the most still heavy review I've put together yet because I realized that Teo's images actually do a better job at explaining his world then my words could ever do.

Olympia City: A metropolis surrounded by oppressive gothic statues spewing god-knows-what variety of refuse from their gaping mouths. How to describe it? Olympia City is like a gooey blend of Blade Runner and Brazil, exploding with garbage and exposed wiring, all color graded to a cinematic palette similar to The Matrix's greens and earth tones. It's an anachronistic environment where giant floating Asian Junks dot the skyline, their massive video monitors displaying ads in hi-def to the dwellers bellow. I honestly haven't seen a more impressive conceptual world put to screen since last year's Gabriel

Sure some of the CGI isn't up to blockbuster standards but I love that Teo wants to push it as far as it can possibly go. He's not willing to just give us a glimpse of the world and let our imaginations do the rest. He's not satisfied having his DNA mutations happen off screen while victims screams turn to jump cuts as so many lesser talents would do. Oh no, he gives us shot after shot of sweeping vistas, large scale cityscapes, blood soaked killshots, and gross out mutations that are constantly impressive. Teo used a company called Worldwide FX and he gives them tons of credit throughout the DVD for being a tireless bunch of perfectionists. So there's a plug for any future low budget scifi directors out there.

The city is home to all manner of person but our three heroes are probably the most interesting of the lot. Michelle is an assassin hired to target DNA hackers who steal the genetic makeup of people and mutate them in the process. Christian is the technology's creator, a scientist determined to harness this power for good. Jackie, Michelle's brother, is a grade-A screw up with a penchant for getting himself into trouble. Through happenstance they wind up working together to stop the technology from getting in the wrong hands.

If that sounds pretty straightforward know that it's not. Teo's not one for a quick and dirty in and out (that sounds weirder than I meant it to). You can tell that he supremely loves these characters because each of them are given a sad depth and complex back story. To paraphrase his own words, the film is about a yearning for love in a decaying world (I think he said something about "a flame burning brightest in the darkness") so amid the garbage and scifi action aftermath we're also given lots of time to just chill with these characters as they have moments of reflection and attempts at intimacy.

Of course this is also supposed to be an scifi actioner with crazy futuristic devices and kick ass assassin chicks in leather so lets not dwell on the emotional stuff. The action is fast paced and well choreographed when it happens but unfortunately those moments are a little too few and over too quickly. Bai Ling is certainly up to the task as usual but I couldn't help but want a couple more set pieces to keep the blood pumping. The scifi elements - the ideas and gadgets in the film - are constantly unique. I may not have always understood exactly how the DNA hacking glove-thingy worked or what it was exactly doing but it was scary and intriguing while there was always some sweet new lo-tech meets hi-tech gadget to marvel at throughout the film. In fact I do believe that Teo and team have actually created an entirely new genre I'd call "bio-punk." Lets see if it catches on.

quietearth reviewed The Gene Generation back in June when it premiered at Hole In The Head and I tend to agree with his take on some of the films flaws. Teo oozes talent but the film is hampered by the usual technical stuff that comes with a lower budget. Less than perfect ADR, some interior sets that needed more dressing to avoid looking like factories, and some clunky dialog delivery tend to drag the film down in places. But for sheer ambition and singular vision, Pearry Reginald Teo impresses big time with The Gene Generation. Luckily he's currently rivaling Guillermo del Toro in the sheer number of projects he's got in the pipeline (like Necromentia, Dark Oz, and Deus Ex Machina) so we're sure to see much more from him in the very near future.

A quick word about the DVD. When I first spoke with Lionsgate about the release I was told that there were no special features planned for it. This bummed me out big time because this is exactly the kind of film about whose making you want to know everything about. I'm happy to report that they lied and there are a ton of sweet features on the disc including two commentaries and a whole slew of interviews. So thanks for not cheaping out on us Lionsgate. You continue to rock my world.

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zenseeker (13 years ago) Reply

I'm afraid that you cannot lay claim t having invented the term "bio-punk", it has already been established for quite some time.

Film looks good though, I have it on pre-order but we have to wait until the end of March here in blighty (unless I happen to have won the comp of course :P)


agentorange (13 years ago) Reply

Argh! I thought I was a genius but I must have heard it around before! Oh well, I'll coin a phrase one day. And then I'll show you all. Muwahahaha... *coughs*


zenseeker (13 years ago) Reply

lol...let's see what we can come up with, but check wiki because it's full of punk sub-cats :P


jason (13 years ago) Reply

The phrase Bio-Punk was invented 7 years ago in a script registered with WGA...your film has a lot of the same story??????????????????

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