DVD & BLU-RAY REVIEW: Dead Space - Downfall

Animated video game prequel reveals interesting origin...

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Two weeks ago the video game Dead Space hit multiple next gen gaming consoles and made players squint, squirm and scream as they explored the space mining ship the USG Ishimura as engineer Issac Clarke, a simple man separated from his crew and forced to fight to survive against a mysterious and horrific alien species.

Now, fans of the game as well as horror and sci-fi fans in general, can pick up Dead Space: Downfall, the sequel to the Dead Space comic book series from Image and the prequel to the video game itself. Thanks to Anchor Bay and Manga Entertainment, whose previous fan-favorite releases include Appleseed, Blood: The Last Vampire, and Ghost in the Shell, fans can now gain valuable information regarding the Dead Space universe via this full length animated feature, which features impressive animation, quality voice acting, an exciting soundtrack, and an action-filled story.

The animation - which is mostly cell with a bit of CG added for space and space ship effects - impresses with smooth attractive lines and a solid look. The digital transfer seems well done and those with hi-def will appreciate the Blu-ray's quality to bring crisp, bright colors to any home entertainment system. Character designs stay consistent with those seen in the game and, while the look of the necromorphs isn't nearly as scary as in the game, there's plenty of blood and guts to keep die-hard horror fans content. The voice actors give a solid performance while the soundtrack provides a solid platform on which the story can develop. The game features some of the most eerie sound effects I've ever witnessed in a game and this anime's soundtrack too provides fans who own a good surround sound system plenty of reasons to jump...

As for the plot, Dead Space: Downfall provides the second part of the three part Dead Space storyline and explores the USG Ishimura's mission to the Aegis-7 mining colony, the discovery of a mysterious religious relic, the hideous alien outbreak, and the fate of the Ishimura's crew. Simply put: colony members begin to disappear and die after an unexplained alien relic is found and, while trying to convince the ship's captain the dangers surrounding this ancient artifact, Vincent, the head of the Ishimura's security team, must defend herself and those aboard the ship from a sudden alien outbreak after the ship's fanatical captain decides to bring the alien rock-like sculpture on board.

Following Vincent, the film's main character, provides viewers with an understanding of the vastness of the Ishimura as well as the confusion surrounding events both on the Aegis-7 colony and on board the ship.

Set aboard the USG Ishimura as well as the Aegis Colony, the story goes to great lengths to build a sense of impending doom for the colonists and crew. The unexplained alien necromorph attacks seem unreal and unjust - especially when one considers no reason is given as to why the aliens are attacking. Viewers - like the colonists and crew of the Ishimura - are confused and left to assume the worst...

With interesting story points - including how the aliens get aboard the Ishimura and the way in which the alien infection spreads - revealed, the film forces the action and gore front and center; however, answers to questions stirred up in the film's plot seem to take a back seat. Obviously a way to seemingly force those fans who like the Dead Space universe and story to - if they haven't already - purchase the game. Dead Space: Downfall, while not perfect, provides plenty of exciting and interesting background information on what's quickly become a fan-favorite gaming universe with plenty of room for growth.

Be sure to check out the trailer for Dead Space: Downfall (below) and pick up a copy of this amazing new anime on DVD or Blu-ray wherever home video is sold.

Review sample courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

- Jess C. Horsley

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