Dead Space: Aftermath (Mike Disa, 2011)
As of yesterday morning, I had fifteen movies on my Netflix queue rated less than two stars. I have since watched four of them, and have only agreed with one (Hellraiser: Revelations). I liked, give or take, the first animated Dead Space movie, and I liked, give or take, Aftermath (current Netflix rating, according to my instant-streaming page: 1.9), which covers the events between the first and second games. Understand that “liked” is a term I’m using loosely here. Animated movies have to be judged on a different set of criteria than live-action movies do. You have to expect overacting from the voice characters, you obviously don’t have to worry about cinematography, lighting, etc., and the most important guy behind the camera isn’t the director, it’s the lead animator. In this case, I can’t quite be sure who that is; the credits list “key animation director”s, but only for two of the sequences (there are five, four flashbacks and a wraparound). For what it’s worth, the two listed are Jung-eun Kim (Millennium Actress) and Eun-kyung Kwon (in is feature debut). Is it these guys I should be yelling at? I got no clue.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t played the games, the plot summary contains major spoilers for the film (I assume most people interested in watching the movie will be fans of the game, so I’m not terribly concerned about spoilers). If you have not yet (a) seen Aftermath and/or (b) played Dead Space 2, which by default gives away the end of the movie, skip the next paragraph.
Plot: Aftermath takes us through the events that get Nolan Stross (voice of Ghost Game‘s Curt Cornelius, who also voices Nolan Stross in Dead Space 2) into captivity next to Isaac Clarke, protagonist of the original Dead Space, in The Sprawl. As we open, a rescue team is boarding the O’Bannon to look for survivors. They find four: Stross, Isabel Cho (voice of Heathens and Thieves‘ Gwendoline Yeo), Alejandro Borges (voice of Piranha 3D‘s Ricardo Chavira), and Nickolas Kuttner (voice of The Dark Knight Rises‘ Christopher Judge). Two scientists, an engineer, and a security officer. They are taken back to The Sprawl and questioned, one by one, about what happened on the O’Bannon; the story each tells fills in another piece of the puzzle of what happened on the O’Bannon (and on Aegis VII’s mining colony).
Ultimately, there are two main problems with Aftermath. The first is… we don’t see a necromorph until forty-five minutes into the movie? What? Granted, that’s probably only going to be a problem for the gamers, but then like I said, I assume most everyone watching this will be familiar with the games. The second is the animation. It’s okay for a computer game, but… well, let me put it this way: we’ve had some movies over the past decade or so with great animation, but ridiculous stories, when the stories even exist (Final Fantasy and Immortel: Ad Vitam come to mind immediately). Here we have the opposite problem. You combine that animation with these compelling stories and you’re going to get a movie that will wow people pretty hard. (Assuming you add some necromorphs earlier on, that is….) As it is, though, I think this is only applicable to hardcore Dead Space gamers, and even a bunch of those are going to be disappointed in this. **