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In an alternate future, where water is more precious than gold or oil, Canada is home to regions of water miners. In addition, birth defects have become commonplace. Abe Fielder, a wealthy water miner, summons Dr. Gabriel Goode, a black market limbs salesman (and a drug addict with a mechanical heart to boot), to his residence in order that his legless daughter be fitted with some new legs. Once that's accomplished, Gabriel falls for the daughter, but in the process uncovers some dark family secrets.
Oh, Canada. My home and native land. Up here, we've been privvy to a teen school drama series over the years in various incarnations known as the Degrassi series. I never watched any of the shows much, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Anais Granofsky, one of the original members of the cast, managed to make the transition to director a number of years ago. RE-GENERATION, also known as THE LIMB SALESMAN, was screened at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, and is just now getting a DVD release. The question I have is why.
Hats off to Peter Stebbings for his performance in this film. The guy is a standout from the rest of the cast, and really gives an emotional performance. Everyone else, however, give strained performances that aren't really noteworthy. Clark Johnson (a mainstay of 'Homicide: Life on the Street'), who usually does well, seems kind of miscast in his gruff role.
The look of the film is a nice touch. A sort of throwback with a mixture of different eras, it attempts to further the idea of a future where things have gone south (and then some). If this all sounds like I'm stretching to find something positive to say about the film, you'd be correct.
Being a Canadian production, the film looks like it was put together -- sets, costumes and all -- on $20. But probably the worst thing about it is that the film tries to present itself as a serious sort of film that I really didn't care for. Really, the script needed overhauling for the presentation of ideas that are barely explored. Those ideas that are explored (namely the sci-fi element) are ditched in favour of drama that had me reaching for my rum and Coke. Why is it that if water is so scarce, why are their still oceans? Furthermore, with the technology to grow limbs, why is there no sort of desalinization filter of any sort for ocean water? And why does water give people badly acted orgasms (or seizures) in this film?
I refuse to sugarcoat this, fellow Canucks. This film can't sell to me why I should care about it. The cast, sets and writing are the equivalent of bad high school drama class all done in a pretentious manner that has me wondering once again why this is getting a DVD release. If you want a good sci-fi flick, pick up something, anything other than this. If Canadian sci-fi content is your thing, go with Cronenberg, Reitman or Cameron. Should've stayed in class, Ms. Granofsky.
Video: Presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the transfer looks okay, save for some very noticeable ghosting. Apart from that, the image has some good detail to it. Colours are replicated nicely, though nothing too saturated. The whites, however, have a yellowish tinge to them. It's most noticeable in the snow.
Audio: The only track is a Dolby Digital 2.0 that is adequate for the film, but nothing that stands out. Dialogue is clear, as is the music and effects. There's a distinct lack of punch in the overall track, however, with everything coming out flat.
The only extras for RE-GENERATION are the film's trailer (which plays more like a drama than anything) and sneak preview trailers for a couple of other films.
Also, what does it say about a film when the DVD itself doesn't even have the film's name on it? Seriously, the retail disc has Stebbings on it with 'Limbs for Sale' underneath.
Take a first draft sc-fi script that turns into a clumsy love story, skip doing any revising, throw in a minuscule budget, passable acting and a helping of pretentiousness, and you have RE-GENERATION. There are so many other sci-fi films, Canadian and otherwise, that are worth your time more than this.