One is a human/animal hybrid with wings and a poisonous stinger. The other may be a sea creature who can turn human by shedding her seal skin.
These exotic females are the focal points of two very different new films.
“Splice” stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as renegade genetic engineers who create a new, potentially dangerous life form. “Ondine” features Colin Farrell as an Irish fisherman who pulls a gorgeous woman out of the sea.
Director Vincenzo Natali wants to terrify us with a futuristic nightmare in “Splice.” Writer/director Neil Jordan tries to beguile us with a fairy tale in “Ondine.” Both get mixed results, though their leading ladies are something to behold.
Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley), partners in and out of the lab, work for a pharmaceutical company that’s trying to develop new drugs from the genes of animal hybrids. They want to go one step further by mixing animal and human DNA, but the company nixes their plan and they decide to do it on their own.
The creature they produce, named Dren, is bald with slanted alien eyes and crooked, spindly legs. Dren (actress Delphine Chaneac, enhanced with computer effects) can sprout wings, hang upside down like a bat and bounce around like a kangaroo.
Her creators hide her at a remote farm, where she plays with Barbie dolls, cuddles with a cat and spells words with Scrabble letters. She also has sex with Clive in what may be the hottest interspecies connection since Kim Basinger stripped for Dan Aykroyd in “My Stepmother Is an Alien.”
While other startling scenes are yet to come, none can top that. “Splice” can be cheesy, but it does manage to shock.
“Splice,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, opens tomorrow across the U.S. Rating: **1/2
When Syracuse (Farrell) pulls one of his trawler nets out of the sea one day, his catch turns out to be a mysterious woman named Ondine (Alicja Bachleda).
The fisherman’s wheelchair-bound daughter, Annie (Alison Barry), determines that Ondine is a selkie, a mythical Celtic figure that can move between land and sea. She looks human, but is secretive about her past and seems to attract fish whenever she sings.
Syracuse, nicknamed Circus, is a recovering alcoholic whose daughter lives with his ex-wife while awaiting a kidney transplant. He speaks with a thick Irish accent that’s hard to decipher and doesn’t seem to care that he’s falling in love with someone who may be more comfortable living in a fish tank.
There’s a lot of mystical talk, scenic footage of the Irish coast and close-ups of Bachleda’s supermodel figure in wet clothes. The story drags, though, and the fairy tale may put you to sleep.
“Ondine,” from Magnolia Pictures, opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: **
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on the story: Rick Warner in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.