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One of the worst things that can ever befall a parent is the loss of a child. Thankfully I have never had to experience this but thousands of mums and dads have to do so each and every day and it must be a traumatic experience that you can never fully recover from!
So if someone, an friend and Professor from your college days, came to you and claimed that he could bring back your dead son through the miracle of illegal cloning, wouldn't you jump at the oppotunity to get a second chance?
This is the dilema facing Paul and Jessica, played by Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos respectively, after their eight year old son is killed in a car accident. The only catch is that, because human cloning is so illegal, they must give up their old lives entirely and leave behind anyone who knew their son from before.
Paul is sceptical and decides to look into this old friend of his wifes who has made them such an unbelievable offer. Quickly he discovers that Dr. Wells is a highly reputable scientist, specialising in fertility issues, and is reknown for his theories on mapping the human Genome and D.N.A. Going against all his gut instincts, Paul agrees to go ahead with what he thinks is a dangerous proposition and soon the he and his wife find themselves the parents once more of a healthy baby boy.
Everything is fine right up until Adam's eighth birthday, but then the boy begins experiencing night terrors, horrific visions and a violent personality change. Dr.Wells claims that it is because up until now, the pair have known what to expect but that now, starting from the day that Adam originally died, they are entering unchartered territory. Unfortunately, Paul thinks that Wells is being a bit too defewnsive and begins digging and that is when he discovers the truth....
Part conventional horror, part thriller, the film is a little predictable at times but nonetheless quite enjoyable for what it is if you don't go in expecting too much. Robert De Niro is okay, satisfyingly creepy, in his role as Dr.Wells but does not go all out and kind of goes into this a bit half-hearted. The other two leads though, Kinnear and Romjin- Stamos, are quite convincing and do their best with a slightly hackneyed plot that owes much to other films before this.
I watched this the other night and thought it was okay. If you don't go in with too high expectations then you'll probably enjoy it! It's not totally original but competent nonetheess and, though I wouldn't watch it again, it was certainly worth a watch! It is just a shame then that the ending is a little unsatisfying!!
Paul and Jessie Duncan are devastated when their son, Adam, dies just after his eighth birthday. Struggling to come to terms with his grief, they are initially horrified when Doctor Richard Wells approaches them, claiming that he can clone Adam, but they soon give in to the suggestion and, nine months later, Jessie gives birth to a new Adam. All is fine, until new Adam reaches his eighth birthday, then strange things start to happen. His behaviour changes, for the worst and he is rough and aggressive with other children. Although monitored by Richard, Adam begins to get out of control. Can Paul and Jessie work out what is happening to their son before more people get hurt?
The main draw for this film was Robert De Niro, who plays Richard Wells. De Niro rarely gives a bad performance, and I was expecting this to be no exception. I was surprised to find that his performance was sadly lacklustre. This is not entirely his fault, simply because Wells' role is fairly small and so De Niro doesn't really get the chance to develop it in any way, but I honestly think that Dr Wells could have been played by any competent actor and it wouldn't have made any difference. There is nothing about De Niro's performance that stands out in any way - and that includes the end where he does finally get the chance to show what he's made of. Perhaps I was asking too much - all actors have their downtimes - but I went away feeling disappointed.
Paul Duncan is played by Greg Kinnear, who does give a really good performance - just as well, as he is really the main character in the film. Watching him go through the trauma of losing a son and then realising that his new son might have something wrong with him was a real revelation - I found him convincing and touching and he injected some much needed class into the proceedings. Rebecca Romjin as Jessie was not as outstanding, although she wasn't terrible - she did have the opportunity to play the grief-stricken parent, but I just didn't feel it in the same way that I did with Kinnear.
The child, Adam, is played by Cameron Bright. As the focus of the movie, his acting could make or break the film. Unfortunately, I think he broke it. Again, it isn't a terrible performance, but it isn't terribly convincing and, to be honest, I found it hard to believe that his parents took so long to realise that there was something wrong with him. He just isn't very appealing, even when he is supposed to be. And his evil glances into the camera weren't particularly well done - I've seen much scarier horror film children than this - and I found myself disliking him more than being scared of him.
The whole issue of cloning and research into the area is not exactly new, and probably wasn't in 2004 when the film was made. Artificial Intelligence stands out as being a film that did it rather well. Godsend just doesn't do it as well. The idea that a dead child could be reborn is tempting, but it isn't explained well in the film and I found myself with all sorts of questions that weren't answered - the fact that it is highly unethical and illegal for a start. That may not have been important had the film been better, but as it is, I found the questions nagging at me and taking away from the story. And the ending really is silly. I watched it in disbelief and found it left me with a strong sense of frustration. I'm not really sure what message the film is trying to make - it could be simply that cloning is a bad idea - but whatever it is, the message gets lost in the storyline.
One good thing about the film is that it does start out strongly. The idea is really intriguing and the death of a child is going to grip most people's attention. However, once the story has been told up to new Adam's eighth birthday, things really begin to fall to pieces. There is a huge amount going on, much of it in the form of flashbacks going on in Adam's head. Then Paul undertakes an investigation based on these flashbacks, which is incredibly confusing because it is hard to follow his thought processes and they are not made terribly clear. Even when they do begin to make sense, there is a feeling that it wasn't worth the effort - and this is something that continues until the end of the film.
The film is quite well-made. There are a number of dream sequences that involve a fair bit of computer-generated images and these are well-woven into the rest of the film. My main issue with them was that they are shown so quickly that it is hard to grasp what is going on the first time around. That is fine if you are planning to watch it more than once, but for the average movie-goer, a little more detail is needed at a slower speed. Apart from that, the film looks to be of good quality and there are some occasional clever camera angles to spice things up a little.
There are a number of extras that come with the DVD. There are some alternative endings, which I found incredibly annoying, but then once I've been given an ending, I don't like it to be rewritten, so that could just be a personal thing. However, none of them were really any more inspiring than the real one we got. Then there's a short video diary made by the director, involving a series of promotional videos for the film. The cast interviews are worth watching if you're a fan of any of the main actors, probably not otherwise. Then there is a trailer, TV spots (more promotional stuff) and storyboards, which is simply a series of pictures representing specific scenes. Finally, there is an audio commentary.
I was generally disappointed with this film, because it just didn't grab me as much as I was expecting. I also can't help but think that fictional films such as these about cloning are probably going to do more damage than good - the majority of us will know that it is fiction, but there are always a handful who believe everything that they see. On the other hand, it isn't a terrible film, so if the synopsis appeals, you might just enjoy it. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99.
Running time: 102 minutes
It's hard to imagine these days, but once upon a time the name Robert De Niro atop a film's boxart was almost a Stamp of quality that would assure you that what you were about to watch, even if not perfect, would at least be of a certain quality, at least a watchable experience. However around the turn of the century something went wrong. I mean it's not like his acting ability vanished, but more like his decision making ability did. He has pulled out the odd good movie, for examples Meet The Parents and it's sequel, but sadly in latter years his CV has been dominated by utterly disposable dreck that would make those reared on movies made in the last decade wonder exactly what all the fuss surrounding him was about.
With this said, upon doing some reading on his 2004 movie Godsend, it becomes a bit easier to stomach his latest failure, and in fact feel sorry for the one time Travis Bickle. Apparently De Niro was under the impression his role in Godsend would be little more than an extended cameo, and was himself rather upset at the fact he was given such a high billing in a last-ditch attempt at giving the film some credibility.
Not that De Niro is the film's only quality player, I feel leading man Greg Kinnear is a more than capable performer, and is really quite underrated. His onscreen wife Rebecca Romijn (at this time still Romijn-Stamos) is a solid actress and even the film's child star Cameron Bright doesn't grate the nerves. So how does Godsend manage to get it so wrong?
The film follows the Duncan family, father Paul, mother Jesse and their 8 year old son Adam. The family currently live in the city, but are preparing to move to calmer pastures in the name of Adam's safety. However on his 8th birthday tragedy strikes as he is hit by a car and the couple are left grieving. It's after Adam's funeral that the Duncan's are approached by the enigmatic Dr. Richard Wells (De Niro) who claims to have been one of Jesse's teachers at college. He claims he can clone Adam, offering the couple a second chance at their son. The catch is that this procedure is illegal and experimental, and they will need to move to a secluded town to allow Dr. Wells to maintain a close eye over Adam.
Things seem to be going fine until Adam's 8th birthday, when he starts displaying violent tendencies, getting into trouble at school and having bizarre nightmares. Dr. Wells writes it off as a medical condition known as 'Night Terrors' and declares it nothing to worry about. Paul isn't convinced, initially believing the problem to be a side-effect of Adam going past his previous age threshold , however upon some personal research he discovers a secret more dark than he ever imagined...
One of the many problems Godsend encounters is that it isn't really sure what it wants to be. At its core the film is a science fiction picture. In fact if you want to look at it in black and white terms that's all it is. However the film marketed itself as, and really seems to want to be a horror film. Now its not as though Sci-Fi/Horror crossovers are impossible, on the contrary some of the finest films to have been called either have in fact been crossovers between the genres, Alien for one. The thing is Godsend sets things up as though there are clear supernatural elements to Adam's problems, but when things turn out to be pure mad science it leaves quite a bit of belief stretching.
This wouldn't be so bad if these suspensions of disbelief were actually for anything worthwhile, but that's another of the movie's problems; not a great deal actually happens in it. The majority of them relate to the movie's mad science. I don't want to give the film's plot away but it doesn't take much scrutiny for the film's science to burst under the weight of sheer stupidity. Worst thing is, at the end of the movie, things have pretty much reverted to how they started. There is the twist at the end, but its so shockingly out of place I'm not even sure it was meant for this film, and wasn't filmed by accident from an early draft of a script intended for the following year's similar misfire The Dark.
What makes the film's train-wreck nature all the more depressing is how good a set up it has. As I mentioned, it has a reliable cast, albeit Romijn's constant wailing of her terrible dialog does begin to get a bit irritating, and in general it's production values are good. The soundtrack is suitable, the camerawork good...it's a terrible film well made. How you take so many positives and still wind up with such a completely unfulfilling movie I'll seriously never understand. It's like a really awful modern re-imagining of Pet Cemetary, and even it wasn't perfect to begin with.
It's hard to really find much more to say about Godsend. It was a waste of time for everyone involved in making it, and it's not worth wasting your time with. Go dig out Pet Cemetary, or The Omen if you want scary kids. If the film never had the budget and the cast it did, it would easily be 1/5, its only these facts that elevate it to 2. Its still not worth watching.
Godsend was released in 2004. The story opens with Paul Duncan (Greg Kinnear) and his wife Jessie (Rebecca Romijn) throwing an eighth birthday party for their eight year old son Adam (Cameron Bright).
But later in the day, Adam is killed in a terrible accident. Soon after, the grief-stricken parents are approached by Richard Wells (Robert De Niro), an expert in stem-cell research. He offers them the chance to use experimental science to clone their son, but it has to be a secret as it is illegal. The couple accept his offer, but eventually things begin to go terribly wrong.
Greg Kinnear is a versatile actor. He was great in his recent comedy film Ghost Town, and he certainly seemed to put his all into the role of grieving father in Godsend. Unfortunately he was let down by a poor script and mind-numbingly bland direction. It was directed by Nick Hamm, and written by Mark Bomback who also wrote the equally weak The Night Caller in 1998. Bomback did a bit better with Die Hard 4, so maybe he should stick with action films in future.
The first half of the film is near-future science fiction. It reflects a lot of the controversy about genetic science that has been raging for the past several years, and seems at first to be exploring the possibilities. Unfortunately the second half of the film is a different film altogether, heading more towards the kind of horror flick that derives a lot from the Omen.
Cameron Bright is extremely irritating as the sinister Adam. Rebecca Romijn is stunning but not very convincing as a doting American mom. Both appeared in X-Men, so it seems they were deliberately cast together in this. Romijn, I have to say is better with the blue body paint. Robert De Niro is hardly stretching himself in this, as the fanatical scientist, but it's also the kind of slightly mad role he's so good at. Pity it wasn't a better vehicle for such good actors as Kinnear and De Niro.
I have to say the last quarter of the film really drags. There's no suspense whatsoever, and the ending is so preposterous, I'm now convinced somebody dropped the original script on the floor and got it mixed up with something else.
It's currently on sale on Amazon at 3.98. If you watch it, don't say you weren't warned.
Runtime 1hr 38mins approx
Starring Greg Kinnear, Robert de Niro, Rebecca Romin-Stamos
Directed By Nick Hamm
Inner city school teacher Paul (Greg Kinnear) and his wife Jessica (Rebecca Romin-stamos) are distraught after losing their 8yr old son Adam in a accident. At the funeral of their son Jessicas old science professor Dr Wells (Robert de Niro) is waiting outside the church. He offers them the chance to rebuild their lives. Dr Wells is a professor in Genetic research and offers them the chance to get Adam back as a clone. They decide to go ahead and try to clone their son Adam. Adam looks and acts like the deceased Adam till the age of 8yrs.Then things start to change after his 8th birthday but then what have they got to compare clone Adam with as their son did not live after 8yrs old. Cloned Adam starts have night terrors,flashbacks, etc. But he does not know who this boy is that keeps appearing in his dreams. He does not know what this boy wants or is.
Its not a scary movie so if thats what you are looking for dont get this one. I would say its more of an 80s type movie. There are a couple of jumpy bits but nothing to hide behind a cushion. The cloning was not really discussed or shown in the film. Ok they maybe can not show it in the film but a little more information on it works would have been nice. Do they use cells from the brain or dna. The story line was ok but nothing to write home about. It does make you think how people do cope with death of a child. Some times this sort of films make you think.
There are 4 alternate endings
Look at the storyboard
Director Video Diary
Hope this is of some use on the film. For you to make decision on whether to watch or not.