J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Genesis: The Singularity Get Biblical

By now, we know any post-apocalyptic shelter named “Eden” will be anything but. The Biblical references will not stop there. It is 2067 and humanity isn’t quite dead enough, so we will go ahead and hasten the Singularity to finish the job in Freddie Hutton-Mills & Bart Ruspoli’s people-hating Genesis (trailer here), which releases today on DVD.

Paul Brooks earnestly tries hold the last dregs of human civilization together as the civilian proles’ official liaison to the Eden government, but he is losing heart. The government elites keep slashing rations, even though they still eat quite well themselves. Like Marie Antoinette, they treat the “Civvies” like dirt, insisting they do nonsensical “punishment duty” for minor infractions. Basically, this entails walking around outside, until their environmental suits start losing their integrity. You’d think they would just stand still, to cause less wear and tear, but they can’t help wandering off. Periodically, some sort of environmental death ray flares up, forcing them to take shelter in rusted-out cars. Considering how many wrecked jalopies are out there, you’d think they could use them to build a bigger base.

Dr. Eve Gabriel (her name is a double-whammy) still has hope—and he is named Abel (seriously). That is the AI android built with technology developed by her late husband. It/he also happens to be the spitting image of the robotics scientist. Dr. Gabriel hopes that Abel will be able to forage for food and potentially scout for other human survivors, because he can walk around the post-apocalyptic surface without a hazmat suit. Yet, as Abel learns more about human nature and starts thinking for himself, the implications become rather awkward for Team Eden.

Why do Hutton-Mills & Ruspoli hate their fellow humankind so much, they want to eradicate us as a species? Frankly, the theme that humanity has become too sick to merit survival has become alarmingly prevalent in science fiction and end-of-the-world films in recent years. Okay, so maybe people hate Trump, but killing us off as a species definitely seems like overkill.

In this case, Genesis is not just rehashing a particularly problematic theme. It is basically cobbled together from bits and pieces cast-off from dozens of more accomplished sf films. A particular head-slapper is the big revelation that comes midway through. We won’t be outright spoilery, but as a hint, it was probably lifted from the original Bladerunner.

Compared to Genesis, Singularity (with John Cusack) is still complete junk. This film has a boatload of issues, but it benefits tremendously from the reassuring presence of John Hannah. He has a lot of accrued good will from Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Mummy franchise. In fact, Hannah is terrific doing the post-apocalyptic thing in the honestly entertaining Gina Carano vehicle, Scorched Earth, but we can only follow him so far here.

Likewise, Olivia Grant is considerably better than this movie deserves as Dr. Gabriel, who has quite a developmental arc. For what it’s worth, Warren Brown is also decently nefarious as Sec. Jordan Ainsley. Unfortunately, Chiké Okonkwo takes the vaguely sketched Abel and makes him almost impossibly boring, for a genocidal machine.

This is bad future speculation, bad character development, and bad world-building. Yet, the conclusion promises (threatens) more to come. As armchair futurologists, our analysis says a Genesis sequel (probably to be titled Revelations) is highly unlikely. Not recommended, Genesis releases today on DVD.

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