The Dead Space remake is coming, so let’s discuss the animated Dead Space movies.
It’s only a few days before gamers everywhere will be shouting, “IT’S NECROMORPHIN TIME!” before hunkering down to guide Isaac Clarke through the Ishimura on a rescue mission that doesn’t quite go to plan. Horror legend and based gamer John Carpenter has wanted to make a Dead Space movie for years (LET HIM DO IT). In a recent interview, he let slip that one is in the works. Sadly, another will be at the helm.
There have already been two animated Dead Space films: Downfall in 2008 and Aftermath in 2011. So, with the topic fresh on our minds, we review the good, and decidedly not good, about these animated Dead Space movies
Good – Downfall Is a Good Jumping In Point for Those Unfamiliar With the Games
Downfall tells the story of what happened to the Ishimura before Isaac Clarke and the doomed rescue arrived on the scene. After the Red Marker is discovered and the nearby colony descends into madness, security chief Alissa Vincent finds herself against religious fanatics and Necromorphs in a race to stop the crews’ annihilation.
Bad – The Films Are Superfluous
Neither film is really necessary as a plot filler for the series. As prequel stories, both narratives are addressed within the games. There’s nothing new in either film as far as franchise lore goes. They do an excellent job explaining the universe’s basics if you are a casual fan or unfamiliar with Dead Space.
Good – A Majority of the Animation Stylization Is Excellent in Both
Both films have a classic late 80s/early 90s Japanese animation feel to most of the scenes. The female characters are very reminiscent of Aeon Flux, and both films have interesting visual elements.
Bad – Aftermath Is Inconsistent
As a result of 2 different studios working on the film and the stylistic choice to use 3D animation for the present-day story and traditional 2D animation for the flashbacks, Aftermath is massively inconsistent. The 2D sections are fantastic. Each character’s recollection is slightly differently styled, and the characters look different in each section. Unfortunately, the 3D animated sections look like early episodes of the television show Reboot. It is hugely jarring and ruins the overall atmosphere.
Good – The Voice Acting Is Great in Both
Downfall features veteran voice actors Nika Futterman, Kelly Hu, and Hal Sparks. Meanwhile, Aftermath stars Kratos actor Christopher Judge, Kari Wahlgren, Gwendoline Yeo, and Graham McTavish. These are just the top-billed stars involved, and the quality of the acting adds to the impact of the stories and makes you root for the characters.
Bad – The Depiction of Stross’ Baby in His Story During Aftermath
This is a personal gripe with the animated Dead Space films, but Stross’ baby is an absolute nightmare. It’s meant to be the personification of a cute, innocent baby in his mind. Still, in actuality, it is a giant-headed creep machine that I can only imagine would have destroyed his mother during birth. You are meant to feel empathy for the family but honestly, look at it.
Good – How Aftermath Portrays Stross’ Visions of the Marker Shard
In Stross’ segment, the narrative digs down on how the shard of the Marker has affected him and looks at the visions that plague him after he begins studying it. His vision becomes filled with the glyphs from the Marker, he sees shadows and monsters everywhere, and he is tricked into releasing a Necromorph into the ship. Then, in a truly tragic turn, the visions make him believe that both his wife and giant-headed child are monsters, and he slaughters them, believing he has saved his family and insisting they are safely locked in their quarters.
Bad – Neither Feels Fully Fleshed Out
Both animated Dead Space movies are barely over an hour long, which is by no means necessarily a bad thing. However, the short length doesn’t allow for much tension building in this case. It’s especially detrimental in Aftermath, where the multiple perspectives suffer from the short screen time. The Dead Space games are known for their atmosphere, and the films can’t match it with the short runtime.
Good – Aftermath Has Gnarlier Necromorphs
The Necromorphs in Downfall are a bit boring. Apart from the occasional big fella, they are all the same angular, limbed, bone-spiked arms variant. On the other hand, Aftermath has many different Necromorph variations, from acid-spitting long-necked ladies to hulking behemoths smashing through the ship.
Bad – But They Aren’t Around for Long Enough
The Aftermath Necromorphs may be gnarlier and grosser, but they still suffer from the time restraints of the animated Dead Space movies. As a result, the monsters don’t really get a lot of screen time. Heck, they don’t even really appear until the last 20 minutes. So while it makes for a frantic final act, more Necromorph action would definitely up the scare factor.
What are your thoughts on these animated takes on Dead Space? Let us know in the comments which one is your favorite and why.