Replicas (2019 Blu-ray)
Keanu Reeves is out to resurrect his family, anyway he can, in Replicas. Here's our review!
This review contains mild spoilers for the film (shown in the trailer).
A neuroscientist (Keanu Reeves) attempts to bring back his family after they die in an accident. Also stars Thomas Middleditch, Alice Eve, and John Ortiz. Story by Stephen Hamel. Screenplay by Chad St. John. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff.
Replicas is a pretty original spin on the Frankenstein story, exploring the definition of humanity in a sci-fi setting.
Neuroscientist William Foster (Keanu Reeves) is working with a biotech company trying to transfer the mind and consciousness of a recently-deceased person into a synthetic, robot-like body. Foster is close to a breakthrough, but the process continues to fail.
Things get complicated when his wife (Alice Eve) and family all die in a car accident. Foster then takes desperate measures by cloning them bodies and attempting to transfer their consciousness into their new bodies. Of course, things don’t go well.
Despite the potential of the premise, a shallow script undermines Replicas’ promising concept. A solid cast and decent special effects alone aren’t able to provide the necessary suspension of disbelief needed to make the story believable. That’s a cardinal sin for a sci-fi film.
The film is set in the near-future, with technology and science that seems familiar, yet tests the bounds of plausibility. In story settings like these, it is common for the film to have an obligatory “explanation” scene in which the logic behind the science is presented. In Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, great pains are taken to explain the “precrime” concept to the audience. In Jurassic Park, the “Mr. DNA” cartoon is able to sell the science logically to the audience.
The key misstep in Replicas is the lack of a valid explanation of the science involved. Transferring a mind into a new body is an interesting idea, but the viewer will naturally wonder how it happens. The script, however, never elaborates on the details, and Reeves is left repeating various phrases of neurological technobabble to make it all seem possible.
Replicas is frustrating in its logic, so much so that the audience cannot buy into the implausible premise. That’s certainly not the fault of the actors involved, who all do an admirable job. A senseless script provides so many plot holes, not even the steely gaze of Keanu Reeves can distract you from them.
To pull the story off, the script calls for Keanu’s character to make some head-scratching decisions. He tells no one but his colleague Ed (Thomas Middleditch) about his family’s death, and proceeds to clone them without anyone noticing that they have been gone for weeks. Apparently, Foster’s company can clone people as well, and even age them to just the right point. It’s all a bit too convenient, and while there is an attempt to explain some of the plot holes later on (thanks to a twist in the story), it doesn’t quite work.
Despite a smaller budget and a few too many plot holes, Replicas is still fairly entertaining, thanks to some solid performances by Keanu and Alice Eve. The production design and special effects make it appear like a movie made on a much bigger budget, although the CGI with the film’s robot (which will remind you of I, Robot) isn’t very good.
You’ll wish the film’s science and logic made a bit more sense, as there’s a pretty interesting story trying to scratch the surface in Replicas. It just doesn’t quite emerge.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer is excellent, with fine detail in the image - it helps that the production values are high and the cinematography by Checco Varese (The 33, Amazon’s “Jack Ryan,” It Chapter Two) is on-point. This movie is shot to look like a big-budget sci-fi film, but it’s done on a value budget. The transfer does it credit. Some of the night scenes lack the fine detail that a 4K transfer might provide, especially during the film’s fateful car crash in a rainstorm. The transfer is so good, it actually exposes some sub-par CGI. A poorly-rendered robot offers choppy motion that will remind you of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion work. It’s not an homage, it’s just bad CGI.
The audio is a strong 5.1 DTS-HDMA mix. There’s nice channel separation at times and clarity is excellent. There aren’t a wealth of explosions or speaker-rattling sound effects, but the soundtrack offers strong fidelity.
There isn’t much in the way of bonus features, mostly a featurette and deleted scenes.
“Imprint Complete: The Making of Replicas” featurette. The origins of the film are explored here, with Keanu Reeves and Stephen Hamel (writer/producer) among those talking about the process. NOTE: Do not watch the featurette before watching the film. Many of the film’s plot twists are shown and discussed, do it will definitely spoil your viewing experience. Running Time: 25:45
Deleted Scenes. Five deleted scenes are included in one reel, and cannot be viewed individually. Running Time: 8:12
Trailers. Although included as a bonus feature, these are merely trailers for John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum and Chappaquiddick, which play when the disc loads. Trailers for Replicas are not included.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy, redeemable through services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. Lionsgate codes are not redeemable through Movies Anywhere, and their movies do not port from other services.
Audio Commentary. Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Producer James Dodson provide the commentary for the film, which provides some insight into how they pulled off a low-budget independent sci-fi film that looks like it cost much more.
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Running Time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: “Imprint Complete: The Making of Replicas” featurette, Deleted Scenes, Digital Copy.
Audio Commentary: With Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Executive Producer James Dodson