Sunday, 20 September 2009



Every so often they produce a slab of dumb futuristic twaddle primarily conceived to showcase a hot actress in unfeasible and vaguely fetishistic costumes. It's a concept you can trace back to Jane Fonda in Barbarella and Caroline Munro in Starcrash (tragically yet to be released on British DVD). More recently, Milla Jovovich had a crack at the genre with Ultraviolet, Charlize Theron starred in Aeon Flux, and we had Kate Beckinsale in the first two Underworld films. Now it's Bai Ling's turn to don a succession of PVC shorts, shiny thighboots, skintight trousers and midriff-baring plastic tops in The Gene Generation.

In a sub-sub-sub-Blade Runner slum city built in a valley somewhere, Bai Ling is a top assassin targeting DNA hackers who mess with peoples' DNA and turn them into snakey monsters; the result of pioneering genetic manipulation technology originally designed to cure diseases but which Went Horribly Wrong twenty years previously. Ling's next door neighbour is a genetic scientist, and he's built the sole DNA transcoder thingummy but by chance, her idiot brother has nicked it and various parties are interested in acquiring it as a weapon, including the original genius Faye Dunaway (who spends most of her time standing against the wall in a cellar somewhere covered in CGI snakes).

The majority of this seems to have been done on green screen with vast computerised cityscapes that don't come close to convincing, and aren't even particularly good. CG effects have come a long way very quickly but there's no excuse for being this shabby (except for budgetary concerns). In fairness, The Gene Generation was apparently made back in 2005 but has only surfaced this month, although even in 2005 CG was massively ahead of what's on view here. It's basically nonsense and while there are occasional moments of mild interest (mainly due to Bai Ling and her strange taste in trousers), there aren't enough of them and the below-par effects work sinks the whole endeavour.


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