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Perfect Creature (2006)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 7/17/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/4/2007
When it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, I have a very bad habit. (Trust me, this is going somewhere.) I like to take my turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes and mix them all together. This generally grosses out my family, but I love it, and I appreciate the fact that I can still taste each individual component. My mind turned to this holiday mish-mash while I was watching Perfect Creature. This film has taken several different genres and filmmaking styles and mashed them all together. But, unlike my turkey-dressing-potatoes combo, Perfect Creature is not pleasing to the palette.
The easiest way to describe Perfect Creature is to say that it's set in an alternate universe, where, 300 years ago, a new species evolved from homo sapiens. These creatures are what we would consider vampires, as they are born with large fangs and have a thirst for blood. These creatures formed "The Brotherhood" and they oversee religion and science.
Jump ahead to the present, where we see a world which has been ravaged by a flu epidemic. A "Brother" named Edgar (Leo Gregory) has gone rogue and begun to kill humans, something which is extremely forbidden in The Brotherhood. Edgar's brother Silus (Dougray Scott), a church leader, resolves to capture and stop his brother. Police detective Lilly (Saffron Burrows) becomes involved in the case and she and Silus work together to stop Edgar. But, Edgar's murderous ways are only the beginning of a scandal which will rock The Brotherhood.
There's a lot happening in Perfect Creature and that can make it difficult for the viewer to focus. First of all, there's the look of the film. Again, the movie takes place in an alternate version of our world, and aside from the fact that The Brotherhood began 300 years ago, we are never told what year it is. This is one of those films which intentionally mixes elements of many time periods, making it impossible to nail-down exactly when the action is occurring. The city appears to be London, and some of the street scenes look like a 19th century Dickensian portrayal of the city. There are dirigibles circling the skies, and they are constantly tracked by searchlights. There are 1930's era cars, but there are also people riding horses. The police have radios, but they are primitive looking. The Brotherhood wear robes and have a somewhat futuristic look, but we see that their technology is primitive by our standards. The movie packs in so many different elements that it honestly becomes distracting at times. Instead of focusing on the story, I was trying to figure out when everything was happening.
Which brings me to my next point -- Perfect Creature isn't the first film to have this kind of style and I also found myself cataloging the movies of which I was reminded while watching this one. Movies like The Matrix, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Equilibrium, V for Vendetta, and Dark City kept coming to mind. It would probably be unfair to call Perfect Creature unoriginal, but I'm sure that I won't be the only one who recalls those other films while watching it.
And in addition to the list above, the movie which I thought of the most was Ultraviolet, and if you've seen that awful movie, then you understand how I was cringing at that thought. But, like Ultraviolet, Perfect Creature has such a massively out of control story that the comparison is very just. In short, Perfect Creature felt like a sequel to me, or even more so, a group of novels that someone was trying to squeeze into one film. But, the story is a wholly original creation of writer/director Glenn Standring, who has simply shoved too much into the movie. The film immediately starts with the story of The Brotherhood, but doesn't give much detail. And then we are told that there has been a terrible flu epidemic, but we aren't given much detail. It is then revealed that The Brotherhood are essentially the church, but we are never told how this transpired. Standring wants us to focus on the story of Lilly, Silus, and Edgar while never describing the world in which they inhabit. And I'm more than certain that the subplot of the vampires being priests -- wherein they give their own blood to the congregation -- is a big statement about religion, but it all gets lost in the muddled storyline.
So, we have an inscrutable film which looks and feels like other movies. Can it get worse? Yes, the movie's biggest flaw is that it's boring. Dougray Scott goes overboard on making Silus stoic and thus the main character is a snooze. And Standring is working so hard to juggle all of the visuals and backstories that the pacing is ignored. There are one or two interesting ideas in Perfect Creature, but they are fighting for attention in this crowded film which is far from perfect.
Perfect Creature vamps its way onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks good, as it is free from distracting grain and there are no defects from the source material. A lot of work has gone into manipulating the colors in the film, so some scenes look more washed out than others. Overall, the look is crisp and the image is never overly dark. I noted some video noise in some of the effects shots, but otherwise, this was a standard transfer. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The movie has a very nice sound design and we are treated to a variety of stereo, surround, and subwoofer effects. The result is an interesting audio mix which gives the movie a much-needed boost.
The Perfect Creature DVD has only two extras. "The Making of Perfect Creature" (12 minutes) has interviews with the director, the cast, and the producers. Here, we learn a little about the script, and much more about the casting, the characters and the overall look of the film. "Designing the Perfect Creature" (9 minutes) features production designer Phil Ivey and costumer Kirsty Cameron discussing their contributions in the visual aesthetics of the film. The press material for the Perfect Creature DVD promised an audio commentary and deleted scenes, but those weren't to be found on my preview copy.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long