I think that the studio knew they had a problem with Godsend before it was released in theaters. Sometimes a film can look like a great idea on paper, but the final product is just a mess. The thing is, after the studio has invested millions in a bad property, they have to try to recoup the money somehow. In the case of Godsend, the strategy was to put a well made trailer for the property on every Lions Gate DVD product for months and months. In this way, the studio hoped to build up enough word-of-mouth through minimal promotion to have a big opening weekend; big enough to make back some of the film’s budget before the word got out about how bad the thing was.
The plot sounds great. A married couple (Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) have a wonderful son, but he is tragically killed when he is eight years old. Enter Robert De Niro as a doctor who has had a miracle breakthrough in the field of cloning. After some convincing, the three parties enter into an agreement to clone the couples deceased son. The boy is a perfect duplicate of the original until he reaches the age of eight, at which the original child died. That’s when the crazy comes out.
No, the problem is not with the film’s plot, but with its execution. It takes more than a great idea to make a great movie. It also takes an innovative and well-written script. Unfortunately, that’s where the problems begin arise. Like the film’s child star himself, everything starts off wonderfully, but at some point pretty early on the whole film turns into one big mess. The plot asks viewers to make too many leaps of faith, to accept that the characters would willfully make large decisions at the drop of a hat because their son had died. There are a couple of frightening images here and there, but their appearances are telegraphed way in advance.
During the opening credit sequence, the sound cuts out a little when the title appears. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was a creative decision. This little glitch is regrettably the start of a trend that mars an otherwise full audio presentation. If there are too many different sound cues in a scene at once, some of the audio drops out a little. I don’t know if this is a problem with the speed of the PSP’s processor or with the software itself, but it may annoy some of the more discriminating listeners.
When the full compliment of sounds are present and uninterrupted, this is actually a pretty nice soundtrack. By boosting some of the more subtle sounds and making the levels more evenly balanced, the audio becomes much easier to hear through the PSP’s small speakers or headphones. I am not normally fan of compressing a film’s audio, but it works quite well under the circumstances.
The video on this disc doesn’t seem to be as smooth as many other UMD discs. We’re not talking about the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan or anything, but there is some subtle stuttering with fast moving objects. It lacks a certain fluidity that viewers have come to expect from their home DVD titles.
I was also a little disappointed about the faded colors in the frames. Now some of this actually is done on purpose to add to the film’s sinister feeling, but a lot of it just feels flat and dull. I understand that the movie is supposed to be gray and dreary, but if it is overdone, it makes the audience feel gray and dreary as well. Gray and dreary does not equal entertainment.
The good news is, the images have a great deal of detail. Individual hairs can be easily perceived, as well as the subtle dancing of shadows. This is basically a good transfer, and even with the few problems that the disc does have, it is still a clean and detailed presentation, especially for a portable device.
I think the existence of four alternate endings says something about the studio’s confidence in this product. Nevertheless, it is always fun to see the various ways in which a film might be re-imagined. Which ending of the lot is the best is a matter of public opinion, but the fact that the filmmakers didn’t feel strongly enough about one that they had to shoot five
Maybe in 20 or 30 years somebody will remake this film into something truly fantastic. I can only imagine where science and politics will let the real mystery of cloning travel to in the years to come, and such real-life developments might make a remake something truly unique and frightening. The current version, however, can best be written up as a good idea and a valiant effort that fell way short if its potential.