Dead Space: Downfall
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At first, EA's new game Dead Space was dismissed as being a Resident Evil clone set in space. But upon its' recent release, it has been drawing rave reviews and is now in serious contention for being one of the top games of the year. Likewise, some have pooh-poohed Dead Space: Downfall, a feature-length animated prequel to the game, as being a cheap marketing gimmick. If you do put aside those trepidations, you'll see that Downfall is a fine movie that stands well on its' own.
Most of Downfall takes place on board the Ishimura, a deep-space freighter charged with the task of bringing back a mysterious religious artifact back to Earth. The mining colony where the artifact was found fell to a wave of strange psychotic behavior that resulted in a huge number of unexplained homcides and suicides. The Ishimura's crew also soon starts feeling the effects of the artifact, which has been heightened by an alien virus that causes mutations. With most of her comrades dead, the Ishimura's security officer must try to lead a small group of survivors to stop the deadly outbreak.
The animation in Downfall was done by Film Roman, a company best-known for its' family-friendly fare like The Simpsons and King of the Hill. This entry is definitely not for the kiddies. Whether it's stabbing, shooting, decaptation, or evisceration, most every type of grevious bodily harm is on display here, accompanied by buckets of blood. At times, the gory bits threaten to veer into GWAR-esque comedic territory, but for the most part, Downfall succeeds in creating a very tense and grim environment.
There are a few faults with the film, though. The voice acting could have used a bit more punch. Some of the characters don't have nearly enough emotion essayed to them. Also, the resolution of the story comes off as a bit cheap -- this is where the criticisms of this being a tie-in to the game can be most closely leveled. As the film ends right where the game picks up, there isn't what most people would consider a "real" ending. But considering how good the game is, that might not be that bad of a thing. At any rate, Downfall is a nice homage to sci-fi/horror classics like Alien and The Thing, and should be enjoyed by fans of the genre.
Anchor Bay's DVD release sports solid audio and visual quality, with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack and a clean anamorphic widescreen picture. The extras include a deleted scene, photo gallery, a music-only audio track, several trailers, and cheat codes for the game. Overall, this is a solid DVD, but big fans of the game will probably want to go for the Blu-Ray edition.
To purchase the DVD or Blu-Ray versions, please visit Amazon. It should also be noted that the standard DVD version comes packaged with the "ultra limited edition", which is limited to 1000 copies and can only be purchased through the EA Store.
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