Spotlight: DNA (A Movie Review)

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Just recently, our Facebook feeds were flooded by articles exposing similar themes between some of our local movies and some of the known foreign films, instigating conversations among the population. What do we get from these issues?

From the breakout of movies in the 1870’s, being visual creatures, movies have been a huge part of every person’s lives. They have been there throughout the years, continuously catering to us. Therefore, it is not very shocking to notice similar themes among them. One of the trending ones would be the resemblance between “The Breakup Playlist” (2015) and “Begin Again” (2013), which brought out numerous debates and exposing more films with parallels. But, little did we know that these issues are not new at all.

Recently, I’ve watched this movie entitled “DNA”, a movie released in the year 1997. It’s a sci-fi action movie directed by William R. Mesa, who is long considered one of the most innovative visual directors in the industry. This is why his direction of a sci-fi movie like “DNA” was really something to look out for. The screenplay was written by Nick Davis, also is distinguished in visual effects. Apparently, it was a surprise for everyone that the movie succeeded because it stole bits and pieces of nearly every monster movie created around twenty years prior to the movie – evidence that issues about comparisons between movies have always been there even before the rise of social media. However, up to this day, it was also the last movie William Mesa ever directed and Nick Davis ever wrote.

The plot revolves around a fervent tribal doctor, Ash Mattley (Mark Dacascos), who runs a provincial clinic in Sarawak, Borneo while trying to cultivate an immunity-boosting enzyme found only in certain rare beetles. He is confronted with his rival mad scientist, Carl Wessinger (Jürgen Prochnow), who discovered how to extract DNA from the bones of a creature buried among the ruins of a forgotten civilization, reviving a nasty alien skeleton named Balacau. Ash teamed up with a CIA operative, Claire Sommers (Robin McKee) and an intelligent native boy, Matzu (Thomas Taus, Jr.) to stop Wessinger from selling Balacau for use as a biological weapon for wars.

From the poster, to the first few scenes of the movie, it was undeniable that it was somewhat inspired by “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” the first installment of Indiana Jones released back in 1981. The storyline was way too similar, with the main character braving an ancient place to retrieve something so important that he would be confronted with an indigenous tribe and a rival, who is also good in the same field. There is also a monster, which chases the cast through various dim, groveling passages like the so-called beast in “Alien” (1979), which it also resembles. This creature also occasionally uses the camouflaging ability of the monster in “Predator” (1987). These are just three things that were stolen from the many movies that inspired the making of “DNA”.

Apart from the likeness of the picture from many other flicks created prior to its production, there are still many things that got me hooked to it. First and foremost, the weird cast. I consider it weird for it casts a lot of familiar faces that are very known doing different things today. The movie casts Mark Dacascos, who is seen nowadays in Iron Chef America, portraying the role of the chairman. It also casts Jürgen Prochnow, who is known today as Andre Vernet from the Da Vinci Code. And since it was shot in the Philippines, the movie casts Filipinos. It was weird seeing prominent stars like Joel Torre and Susan Africa acting in English because I know for a fact that they are Filipino actors. Also, the team-up of Mark Dacascos and Robin McKee as Dr. Ash Mattley and Claire Sommers, gives me a ‘Tarzan meets Taylor Swift vibe’ just by their appearance in the movie, because nowadays a manly, long, wavy, brown hair like his and a long, blonde bob like hers is often tied up with Tarzan and Taylor Swift.

I also found the movie very entertaining because of many other different things. Another reason would be the inconsistency and predictability in acting, which made the movie so unrealistic. This is also the reason why the heavy drama parts come across as hilarious. The language used is very inconsistent especially among the indigenous tribes. One moment they are speaking their native tongue, needing translators, the next moment, they are already speaking English. Shockers, just like the other action scenes, seem very compulsory, which made it appear so scripted. Many elements in the movie were not established. Many things appear from nowhere. The flow of the storyline was problematic. The narrative was not smooth at all. What were commendable though were the visual effects. What can you expect from a team up of two renowned people from that aspect? Imagining the technology back then, having produced such is really notable.

“DNA” is highly recommended for family viewing and for friends who wants to have a good time. It would be fun to watch the movie with people you are very comfortable with. Enjoy and laugh until tears start running out from your eyes!

-jooleeyuuh ❤

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