BLU-RAY REVIEW: Dead Space - Aftermath
The hit video game gets another animated spin-off...
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The first Dead Space animated spin off, Dead Space: Downfall (reviewed HERE), was released back in 2008 and fans of the game immediately sought answers to questions raised by the game. While fairly well received by die-hard fans, the animated film forced its violent, disturbing story front and center and didn't so much answer questions as ask more. As a parallel story of sorts to the first game, the first film's violent action and adventure couldn't overshadow the story's somewhat one-dimensional characters and somewhat inconsistent animation.
Now, over 2 years later and with the release of Dead Space 2, fandom can find the latest animated joint venture between Visceral Games, EA, Film Roman and Anchor Bay Entertainment on shelves now in the form of a second animated adventure - Dead Space: Aftermath.
The story goes a bit like this: the crew of the USG O'Bannon has arrived at Aegis VII, attempting to hold the planet together in the wake of the events of the original Dead Space video game. However, when communication is cut off and a team of Marines is sent in to discover what's happened, only four souls - who've fought tooth and nail to stay alive and overcome a necromorph infestation - are found alive. Now, the four survivors have been taken prisoner, each forced to reveal their own, unique story and re-account their frightening experiences with a piece of the alien artifact that started it all and the violent, mutated necromorphs that have killed their entire crew.
Sounds interesting, right?
Unfortunately, Dead Space: Aftermath fails to fulfill expectations. The story, which is somewhat interesting as a prequel to the new Dead Space 2 game, does little to pique fan interest or develop the mythos. The violence, while present and in full force, does little to entertain and seems gratuitous and sometimes unnecessary.
For those who've never played the Dead Space video game (shame on you if you haven't as it's truly a stellar experience), Dead Space: Aftermath will still make some sense...though some of the plot points may seem a bit odd without the appropriate background information. Likewise, while the four unique stories presented here are interesting in their own right and viewers will no doubt relate to the characters' struggles and motives, these four main characters all seem one dimensional, making it hard to cheer for them or even care what happens to them.
Film Roman's animation is also inconsistent, with the 78 minutes of animation broken into four different segments each with its own director and each revealing one of the four different character's stories. The CGI animated portions feel as if they're from more than a generation ago and the 2D cell animation at times looks aged as well. While each story has its points of interest and, as each character is a survivor and no doubt interesting in their own right, the four story segments are all over the place, with the story never seeming in any particular order. Chaotic is a good description of the storyline...though maybe that's the point. And, while the idea of telling four different tales in four different ways had great promise, the execution unfortunately doesn't seem to fulfill the expectation.
What makes the Dead Space video games so amazing - a combination of frightening visuals, shocking audio ques, a well written and developed main character and a story which seeks investment from its players - simply doesn't translate to film well. While die-hard fans may find some redeeming qualities to this film (including a very short cameo by the main character of the game series), most film fans will find Dead Space: Aftermath an unfortunate dry hole.
Dead Space: Aftermath is available on blu-ray and DVD now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley