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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Timeless and poetic exploration of issues of identity.

Author: Alex-Tsander from United Kingdom
4 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie does a number of ingenious and remarkable things : 1. It makes the extraordinary ( space exploration ) seem completely routine in a way not accomplished since 2001 A Space Odyssey. But in total contrast to the latter, instead of achieving this effect through the vivid portrayal of technology with engineering exactitude, it does it by showing almost no technology whatsoever. Rather scenes of the completely anodyne. The "astronauts" wear business suits and work in an office.

2. It creates a sense of timelessness by using almost featureless sets reminiscent of a classical play and paraphernalia re-cycled from other times ( such as the cars and the back-projection displays ). The feel of the film is in a very positive way reminiscent of Alphaville.

3. It employs completely impractical technical devices in such an effective theatrical way as to render their impracticality irrelevant. For example, it is possible to identify someone by a genetic "fingerprint" generated from a hair follicle ( but not in itself a hair ) or skin, but such traces would not facilitate a break-down of the persons genetic character, as pretended here. These are two different orders of measurement. Indeed, urine, which features centrally in the plot, is of no use on either account, not being a body tissue in any case. Only the blood tests would facilitate both identification and genetic analysis as shown in the story. Yet, in spite of knowing these things, the use of such devices as a plucked hair in the story is made so poetically as to become effectively a perfect metaphor and so beyond criticism on grounds of mere realism. To me, this seems almost unique. To do the wrong, obviously, yet aptly.

4. The plot is so contrived as to convene three parallel stories into convergence: Vincents story, of course. But also the directors story, which is oddly similar ( his life's ambition in the flight of the mission can only be fulfilled by killing the man who would have axed it ). As is that of the son of the biologist mentioned at the end.

5. The movie actually achieves what most dramatic art strives for but fails to do: the story resonates far beyond the limited scope of the dramatic enactment. Vincents dream and the challenges posed by society's prejudices is a story that is eternal and universal. As are other issues brought up: sibling rivalry, the "straight" way to a mediocre life as against the "crooked" yet heroic path toward a greater truth. Most profound is the way in which the paralysed Jerome actually becomes an immortal, historical space-farer Vincent, destroying his mortal self to do so, leaving as his legacy the realisations by the other man of his dreams. This is both incredibly ingenious and thought provoking, creating a mood that lingers long after the credits roll. I doubt that vicariousness has ever before been made so realistic a possibility.

The atmosphere, mood and languid tempo yet with a sense of inevitability is greatly aided by Michael Nyman's score.

This is one of the very few movies in which a narrator is entirely apt and not a mere convenience.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

If everyone is perfect, than doesn't perfect simply become average?

Author: Britishboy
31 March 2005

In recent years, sci-fi movies have been primarily popcorn flicks. You would never see a really thoughtful film along the lines of Planet of the Apes, 2001, or even Logan's Run. We were given films about Bruce Willis blowing up an asteroid and movies about an alien fleet trying to blow up the world. Even Star Wars wasn't an intelligent movie. It was pure entertainment, but that was all it tried to be. Too many movies today are popcorn flicks with a moral tacked onto the end of the film. But every once in while, we find a diamond in the rough. Which is the case with Gattaca.

Gattaca takes place in the near future. It presents a future that is completely plausible and seems to be strangely familiar. In this future, genetic manipulation has become quite mainstream, leading many parents to choose the perfect traits for their children. These children have perfect features and no trace of birth defects. They are all intelligent and almost perfect. However, they are not the mindless robots coming off of an assembly line that you may picture. The entire idea is completely realistic and plausible.

However, some parents choose not to undergo this procedure, whether due to religious reasons or the inability to afford it. Regardless, these parents sometimes give birth to children with birth defects and other less-than-desired traits. These children are usually given the world's less-than-desirable jobs.

Such is the case with Vincent, our main character. He was born with a heart condition and was expected to die by age thirty. His parents learned their lesson, and when they had a second child, they made sure that he had superior genes. This leads to an unusual sibling rivalry between Vincent and his brother. As a child, Vincent dreams of working with the space program called Gattaca. He has the brain-power to do it, but his genes are holding him back. DNA checks are mandatory for all new recruits.

He continues into his adult life, getting a job as a janitor at Gattaca, which only increases his hunger for space. However, he soon finds a way out. Jerome Morrow is a former swimmer who becomes paralyzed from the waist down. After his accident, he simply fades off of the map. Through an "identity-dealer," Vincent finds that he can alter his appearance and use Jerome's DNA to get a job at Gattaca. In return he will pay Jerome a portion of his salary. So the two begin a life together. Vincent becomes Jerome and gets a job a Gattaca.

I don't want to ruin the entire story, but there are many interesting twists to keep your interest. The film also moves at an incredible pace, making the 101 minutes fly by. There are action scenes, but these are not Michael Bay action scenes by any means. Of course, that isn't a bad thing.

What I am trying to say is that this is an intelligent film. While anyone can enjoy it for its rich story and good performances, those interested in science will be the most interested. The film offers many references to genetics including Jerome's middle name (Eugene is a reference to eugenics, the branch of genetics involving gene manipulation), Jerome's spiral staircase (a DNA strand), and even the films name (letters used to label the nucleotide bases of DNA).

I must complement the film's cinematography. The films color palette is great, containing a lot of rich greens and blues. The look of the film is also great. It is very minimalist and just futuristic enough to keep things in line.

Performances vary from good to great, but everyone does a pretty good job. Ethan Hawke does a great job playing Vincent, but Jude Law steals the show as Jerome. His wit and humor contrasting some heavy drama makes him an unforgettable character. Also noteworthy is Uma Thurman's performance as Vincents uniformist love interest.

I must truly compliment Andrew Niccol. Had he simply written the script, he would deserve recognition. But his directing is spot on. The film is unique, smart, well-acted, and great to look at. Best of all, this is an intelligent movie. It will make you think about many things. If everyone is perfect, than doesn't perfect simply become average?


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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest sci-fis

Author: jankat_666 from Turkey
28 January 2005

I think this is one of the most fantastic science-fiction film ever made.It is so wonderful because it is not trying to draw our attention with its special effects(it has no special effects).

The script is just what I wanted.The isolation of the "not too far future"...In Gattaca world there are some "perfect human beings" and another kind which is naturally born.And this second kind is not tolerated.The first kind

even don't want to shake hands with the second kind. You see what I mean?It is just fantastic.The cast is perfect,too.Especially,Ethan Hawk and Jude Law as a team are fantastic.

SO I really think you should watch it(****/out of four).

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Sci Fi As It Should Be

Author: morphion2 from Australia
7 January 2006

'Gattaca', the 1997 sci-fi film, has definitely done its part in adding to the culture of cult films around the world. Whether it's the disturbingly familiar future-society that the film depicts, the ethical and moral nightmare scenarios that it entails, or something subliminally appealing, this piece of film found its audience and cemented its place in history.

In the 'not-too-distant future', the world of genetics has expanded to previously unimaginable proportions, wherein a person's entire life story can be told with just a drop of blood or a strand of hair. In this post-genetics world, science has perfected the art of life; children are no longer born biologically, but rather their parents give their sperm and eggs to laboratories and they deliver the best child that can be produced from these genes. Children who were not conceived this way are referred to as "in-valids" and society deems them accordingly. It's a whole new type of discrimination, but one that Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is not willing to accept.

Vincent is an in-valid who has always had the dream of going into space. Refusing to accept his pre-determined life, Vincent consequently adopts the identity of another man whose genes make him 'valid'. Jerome Morrow (Jude Law) agrees to let Vincent have his identity if he will provide Jerome with a place to live. Using samples from Jerome's body disguised as his own (blood, urine, hair), Vincent becomes employed in the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation as Jerome Morrow and after many years in the job, he is finally given the opportunity to go up into space on one of Gattaca's frequent launches.

When the director of the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation is murdered, however, investigations into the crime put into question Vincent's true identity, and he soon finds that his long deception could be unraveled and his life-long dream could be shot down in flames. With only fellow colleague Irene (Uma Thurman) and Jerome on his side, Vincent must race against the powers that are trying to put him back into the social hole he was supposedly born into and put an end to the life he has worked so hard to build.

The film has a very sorrowful approach to what sounds initially like a very lame plot. It's cinematic and stylistic without being pretentious or overdone, and the way it is shot and put together reflects very well the film's bland and sterilized society in pursuit of perfection. The chilling sense of realism that goes with the world of Gattaca makes everything within it become more than just a strange concept in a science fiction film. Not unlike Spielberg's 'A.I.', Gattaca very cleverly draws from horrors within our society today to suggest the terrifying prospect that our science will eventually render us, as a natural species, obsolete.

Director Andrew Niccol has done a fine job in transforming this sci-fi flick into something much deeper and more interesting. The writing is not spectacular, but is still better than most. Hawke's narration provides very good atmosphere for the film as he talks about the way of the world in this eerie future and the film's theme is very secure, with events such as the murder being practically irrelevant. The thing that matters most is Vincent's dream and the social inequalities that prevent him from actualizing it, and this is made very clear from beginning to end.

The acting performances are all very adequate, but the stand-out ones are Ethan Hawke and Jude Law, who seem so comfortable in their characters and, truth be told, share more chemistry than Hawke and Thurman do. This was one of Jude Law's first feature films, and it is a remarkably impressive debut.

Basically, this is a film that says what it means. Even in a world that has successfully bred perfection, people still suffer, the system is still unjust and lives still go to waste. Far from just being an unrealistic portrayal of what the future will hold, 'Gattaca' questions the ideals of mankind, the principles of civilization and leaves us to wonder what we, as a society are truly striving for.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

One of the 90s' best

Author: nablaquadro from Ravenna, Italy
20 December 2006

Gattaca arranges perfectly between the best movie of the 90s, probably at the top, for his multiple nature, equidistant from sci-fiction to social drama. The apocalyptic future is here portrayed not with aliens' invasions or mechanical creatures. Instead, with a "rational" decadence where Valid and Invalid people (translation: perfect and not perfect people) are classified to leave the planet towards a new, better world. The insane project to classify a society through rules of perfection was cherished from the worst dictators in history but here, with the help of science, playing to be God seem to have a legal appearance.

The denunciation purpose is clear, but the experience gifted by Gattaca goes beyond. The minimalistic art direction recall extraordinarily the idea of a "near" future, so credible to seem real.

A single paragraph deserves the soundtrack. Composed by the great Michael Nyman, its oneiric sounds underline every meaningful scene of the movie. The theme, the largo, the Schubert's ballad, and then again the largo with the piano addition, then the theme again. Gorgeous, ardent, a rare experience.

All the actors fit perfectly their role: Uma Thurman is trapped in an algid beauty, but remains irresistible. Jude Law is very good, like his future roles have proved. Ethan Hawke fits for his role remaining though a little rigid, lost, in front of the camera, lucky that the role of Vincent it's a bit like that. Besides of other little roles, the whole movie is held up by these 3 actors and by their dialogues. An ambitious project, written and directed by Andrew Niccol (whom unfortunately disappointed me for the mediocre S1m0ne and Lord of War), that accomplishes all his targets.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Not so much science fiction as human drama and prejudice in a science fiction setting

Author: grandfunkfan from United States
30 December 2005

Gattaca is not so much science fiction as human drama and prejudice in a science fiction setting.

I had never heard of Gattaca until it was recommended to me by NetFlix. Gattaca is a great movie. Apparently it was not a box office success, but I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes drama and speculative fiction. Some other comments compare it to Blade Runner or 1984. Gattaca is thought provoking and stimulating without being over-blown with special effects and the idea that mankind is doomed to destroy itself.

I like the soundtrack; it is not a collection of pop songs or attempted futuristic designer songs, it just fits.

I won't recommend, as some comments do, to watch the movie several times to pick out gaffes. Just watch it once and enjoy it.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Stylish Sci-fi thriller whose true horror seems to be lost on most people

Author: wadeboi from Hollywood, CA
18 May 2006

I was intrigued by the cult popularity of this film and the fact that so many people seem to think this is one of the best films ever made. Frankly, I struggled to sit through the whole thing and I had to fast-forward through the ponderous stair-climbing scene.

"Gattaca" is reminiscent of 60s sci-fi horror films with its sterile atmosphere and melancholy characters. It's hard to relate to people with absolutely no joy in their lives. Ironically, in watching the first act of the film a second time, I thought the central character seemed happier in his life as an "in-valid."

Our hero's quest seems a bit far-fetched for the price he has to pay and, for the audience, the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion; lacking the impact of a twist ending in comparable films like the original "Plant of the Apes" or even "Soylent Green."

The subtext of sci-fi horror elements, such as invasive background checks and medical testing by employers as well as discrimination based on genetic attributes don't seem all that horrific because, sadly, they have been widely accepted business practices for some time.

I'm amazed to see so many reviewers comment on the "revelation" that in the future employers will discriminate on genetic perfection rather than traditional prejudices such as race, sex, etc. Numerous studies have confirmed that "good looking" people have better jobs and earn more. Men who are less than 6' tall earn more than shorter men, for example. Employers are often impressed with dubious measures of intelligence like college degrees, grades or standardized test scores.

I was also struck by the obvious incongruity of a world where both physical and mental perfection are prized, yet the demands of the career seem to require neither. How much physical perfection is required to sit at a computer keyboard? The work itself is obviously a white collar clerical job with the computer doing the serious mental work. We know it's clerical work because the filmmaker shows him in a cliché clerical setting: sea of cubicles with employees working like disposable, interchangeable parts in a large machine. A future where the best and brightest have only mindless bookkeeping tasks to challenge them is the real horror in "Gattaca."

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Nightmare Vision Of The Future

Author: seymourblack-1 from United Kingdom
28 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The way in which a particularly determined man struggles against overwhelming odds to achieve his ambition, provides this movie with its powerful storyline but there's much more to "Gattaca" than that. This science-fiction drama is set in "the not too distant future" when genetic engineering has become so well-developed that the majority of human beings are designed, at conception, to be as close to perfect as possible. This is done through a process of genetic manipulation that eliminates any recognised defects to ensure that, throughout its life, the unborn child will enjoy extremely high standards of health, intelligence and physical strength. Children born by this process are known as "Valids" and for them, success is virtually guaranteed.

Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was conceived naturally and a blood test carried out at birth identified that he would have a short life (30.2 years), attention deficit disorder and a weak heart. Consequently, he grew up in the full knowledge that he was disadvantaged and his limitations became even more apparent when his younger brother, who was a Valid, soon out-performed him in terms of growth and strength etc. Naturally born people, who are known as "In-Valids" are routinely discriminated against and only regarded as suitable for carrying out the most menial tasks in society. As an adult, Vincent finds employment as a cleaner at the "Gattaca Aerospace Corporation" and, at that establishment, rekindles his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

An opportunity to pursue his dream presents itself when Vincent meets German (Tony Shalhoub), a DNA broker who puts him in touch with the genetically-superior Jerome Morrow (Jude Law). Jerome is a former top class swimmer who became paralyzed after a failed suicide attempt and is now prepared to sell his identity and keep Vincent supplied with the blood, urine, skin, hair and fingerprint samples he'll need to be able to pass himself off as a Valid. By this method, Vincent succeeds in getting employment at Gattaca where he prepares to be a navigator on a space flight to Titan and also starts a relationship with a beautiful co-worker called Irene Cassini (Uma Therman).

Vincent's workplace operates a rigorous regime of frequent testing and by using Jerome's blood, urine etc. and scrubbing himself thoroughly everyday to ensure that he doesn't inadvertently lose any skin or hair, Vincent copes well with maintaining his deception. One day, however, in the week before his space flight is due to launch, the Gattaca director in charge of the Titan mission is found murdered and everyone involved in the project becomes a suspect. Things then get even more threatening for Vincent when one of his eyelashes, found near the crime scene, alerts the police to the fact that an unauthorised In-Valid had obviously been present and this person naturally becomes their prime suspect.

"Gattaca" has a hypnotic quality and characters that, because of the nature of their society, are very reined-in. The romance involving Vincent and Irene is often cool and controlled with any spontaneity in short supply. All this seems to support the view that the scientific advances that have technically "improved" society in this futuristic scenario, have also made it fundamentally less human.

The blood test that enables doctors to predict the course of a new-born baby's life, the general acceptance of genetic discrimination (genoism) and the knowledge that there could be no turning back from the scientific advances featured in this movie, make it extremely chilling to watch.

"Gattaca" is intelligent, wonderfully thought-provoking and visually stunning. It also features some really good acting, especially by Ethan Hawke, Jude Law and Alan Arkin who's absolutely marvellous as a no-nonsense police detective.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

An imperfect man's struggle to succeed in a genetically perfect world.

Author: barry-knox from United States
21 January 2006

This film is a refreshing drama with incredible performances by Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and Uma Thurman. While this film did not receive much acclaim and hardly anyone has seen it, it is the best couple of hours you will ever spend watching a movie. I could watch the movie again and again - and I do. In this movie a new underclass if "invalids" is created in the not too distant future when genetic engineering becomes the preferred form of procreation. Vincent Freeman stops at nothing to accomplish his dreams. A story of how dedication and perseverance can overcome the impossible. This movie is true testament to the human spirit. Never save anything for the swim back!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Hello? Top 250 anyone?

Author: DrakeMcCloud from Northridge, CA
31 August 2004

How this movie is not in the top 250 is beyond belief. This was an amazing movie with wonderful acting, not to mention a wonderful story. Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman deserve more credit for their roles played in this movie, as does Jude Law. But how can anyone ignore the story, I truly believe this to be a warning for the "Not to Distant Future."

Genetic discrimination is truly possible, or, I should say, will be possible within all of our futures. Science is making progress by leaps and bounds, and is doing so at an ever rapid pace. To ignore the warning set forth in this movie would be a travesty.

If you listen closely to the news you can hear the progress, every day, "Science Advances Again," "New Cloning Procedure Tested." These are the headlines of science, buried deep within the newspapers of America, where, by the way, all the interesting news lies.

The sheer tactfulness of how this movie analyzes the future is classy, the colors of the movie are well balanced with the seriousness of the movies tone, and only add more to a movie that seems to have it all. The suits, hair styles and modernistic architecture also add to the movie's brilliance and tone.

This is a clever movie, "GATTACA" as everyone reading this probably knows, is a combination of the first letters of the four amino acids in DNA, as any introductory biology class would teach you, which is also why they show this movie in most Biology classes across America, and it is also where I first saw it.

I can only give my highest rating for GATTACA, it is a great movie, and watching it over and over again only adds to the experience. My official rating is 8.4/10.

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