Dead Space: Downfall (2008) Review

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My downfall raises me to infinite heights

Dead Space: Downfall (2008): 6 out of 10: A prequel to the Electronic Arts video game Dead Space? An Animated version of Event Horizon? A film made by and for 13-year-old boys? Dead Space: Downfall is all three of these.

Dead Space: Downfall is a prequel for the video game event of 2008 Dead Space. Well, Dead Space would have been the video game event of 2008 had Saints Row 2, Fable II, Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots not been released.

Dead Space did get good reviews and sold fairly well. Still, it is unusual for a middle of the pack game to get a full-blown animated feature. Not to mention a comic book tie-in that is a prequel to Dead Space Downfall which, of course, is the prequel to the video game Dead Space. Confused yet? Good. All together now, Dead Space: Downfall is the middle leg of a full-blown multimedia trilogy based on a first-person shooter that got lost among superior titles during the 2008 Christmas season.

Now it is a bit unfair to claim Dead Space is simply an animated version of Event Horizon. It steals heavily from Alien as well. The story starts with the discovery of a large alien artifact on a distant planet. The artifact causes the people of the planet to start killing each other and mutating. So the captain of a mining vessel orbiting said planet decides to take the artifact aboard and bring it to Earth. No points on guessing what happens next. There is some side plot of the artifact being religious in nature and the Captain is a religious fanatic (I believe he is Unitarian), but in general, you have mutated crew vs. non-mutated crew trapped on a spaceship that has a surprising number of chainsaws for a futuristic mining vessel.

Dead Space: Downfall is also a movie made for and by thirteen-year-old boys. There is plenty of the old ultra-violence yet none of that icky in and out to be found. And the dialogue yikes I haven’t heard this much profanity since the HBO series Deadwood. Every other word is an expletive. The rest of the dialogue will not win any awards either. Here are the three memorable quotes from IMDb.

Dobbs: There’s a lot of blood in this room, but no bodies. Shen: Sounds like one of your parties Dobbs: Or your sex life!

Hansen: This s’s getting’ weirder by the second! Dobbs: Sounds like a date with Shen. Shen: F you, rookie!

Alissa Vincent: This is no time to be a hero, Irons! Samuel Irons: I’m not a hero, just a man.

I did not realize thirteen-year-olds could join the Screen Writers Guild. And keep in mind these groan-worthy quotes are the best the film has to offer.

All is not awful, of course. Downfall is all in all a decent time waster. The animation isn’t great but it works with the story. The action is kinetic, and the violence is often delightfully over the top. The clichéd story is told in an easy-to-understand manner and the voice acting… well, did I mention the violence is good?

If you played the Dead Space game or passed the box art at GameStop, you know how this movie concludes and the story contains no real surprises. While Dead Space: Downfall isn’t the next Heavy Metal, it is a decent rental for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

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