Dead Space: Downfall (2008)

Actors: Bruce Boxleitner, Kelly Hu, Keith Szarabajka, Jim Cummings, Kevin Michael Richardson
Chuck Patton
Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio:
Number of discs: b
Anchor Bay - ITN
DVD Release Date:
October 28, 2008
Run Time:
74 minutes



Dead Space: Downfall isn't actually based on the Electronic Arts computer game of the same name, but it is rather a prequel to it.

Whatever will they think of next? Sequels to computer games? Super Mario Bros. - The Shadow Years? Lara Croft vs. Menopause?

Who knows? But Electronic Arts must have quite some confidence in its brand new Dead Space franchise because usually movies based on computer games are only made long after the game itself has proven itself to be popular. In contrast Dead Space: Downfall (the direct-to-DVD movie) and Dead Space (the game) were both more or less released on the same time in October 2008.

So is Electronic Arts' self-confidence justified? Well, the game is an atmospheric Quake / Doom-style sci-fi shoot 'em up. It is nothing particularly new or original, but it makes effective use of music and sets and lighting to create quite an immersive (read: scary) gaming environment for gamers. Dead Space: Downfall is a rather violent anime-inspired flick with clunky dialogue liberally peppered with four letter words. (It isn't strictly anime since it wasn't actually made in Japan.) It isn't particularly scary to be honest, but should satisfy bloodthirsty teenaged boys with a liking for both over-the-top gore and Japanese animation.

If you are vaguely familiar with the game's storyline then the movie's ending is somewhat of a foregone conclusion, which takes the fun out of the proceedings. It recounts the events shortly before those in the game itself kicks off. Like the game, it is also nothing particularly new or original, being a mixture of Alien and Event Horizon.

The plot involves a huge deep space mining-ship discovering an ancient alien artifact on a remote planet. Obviously they take the artifact aboard (haven't any of them seen any old 20th century sci-fi horror flicks?) and all kinds of chaos ensues as the alien relic somehow drives the crew members insane, causing them to either commit suicide or violently kill their fellow crew mates. Soon enough vicious monsters are unleashed on the ship as the crew itself is somehow also turned into mindless alien creatures. And you thought you had a bad day at the office today . . .

The animation in Dead Space: Downfall is of varying quality. Some bits are quite good, while other sequences simply strike one as lazy or cheap. The writers try to pad out this fictional universe by creating a religion that worships the alien relic, but nothing much is really done with this subplot. As expected, the characters are one-dimensional (and it has nothing to do with the 2-D animation style).

Plans are apparently afoot to turn the Dead Space game into a live action movie for 2010. This isn't necessarily something to get excited about as fans of the Doom games will tell you. Dead Space: Downfall is an average, but watchable, B-movie worth a rental as part of a triple or double bill. The fact that we watched it as a double bill with the craptacular SciFi Channel "original" movie Anaconda 3: Offspring simply made it look so much better than it probably actually is.

Still, as they say, the game is always better and Dead Space: Downfall is no exception.


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