Published Sep 24, 2008If theres one thing that bothers me more than bad science fiction its pretentious science fiction. For a genre that evolved in the low-rent pages of pulp magazines it seems inappropriate to overindulge in haughty, elitist, pseudo-artistic, subtext-heavy non-stories. Not that I dont enjoy sci-fi that causes a good thinking but my grey matter shouldnt be stimulated at the expense of a storys simple, straightforward entertainment value.
Eden Log works hard to bring art to the forefront of the fictional future landscape, with a nearly black and white existential scurrying through a little explained underground pseudo-scientific laboratory. Unfortunately, the end result, while visually interesting for a film shot on a limited budget, fails in its artistic pretensions and ends up feeling like an extended cut-scene for a mediocre FPS videogame.
When Tolbiac (Clovis Cornillac) wakes up in the mud, lost in a darkened cave, he begins searching for a way out. He soon discovers that hes lost in an abandoned underground facility called Eden Log, though he doesnt discover his name until the last five minutes of the film, prompting half-dead scientists to ask such groan-worthy existential questions as (cue the accordion music, tiny moustaches, berets and cigarette smoke): "Who are you? To which Tolbiac thoughtfully replies, "I dont know.
Do any of us know who we really are? Are we not all lost souls searching around in the dark underneath a giant tree-thing looking for answers to questions that weve never asked, fighting weird mutant creatures who want to destroy us? And arent we, ourselves, those mutant creatures that hunt the secret catacombs of evil corporations in well framed camera shots with dark, yet expressive, lighting? And dont we all yearn to read the pithy subtitles of our own lives? Oh woe, oh woe is me, shall I ever be at one with the giant tree thing that is life?
And that type of puddle-deep philosophy last seen in the Matrix sequels is Eden Log in a nutshell, but with enough scary mutant creature fights that you wish you could take control of the action with your left analogue stick while controlling the camera with your right. And occasionally, when youre in real danger, use the left trigger to throw a grenade.
My love of the sci-fi genre has brought me in contact with enough bad sci-fi to know that movies like Eden Log are the worst sort of offender: art sci-fi. Be afraid, be very afraid, because in mime nobody can hear you scream. (Magnolia)