Monday, April 28, 2008

Fun with cloning

Biology in Science Fiction has a post on the depiction of cloning in movies. Sadly, they left out The Sixth Day (spoilers upcoming), arguably the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie about evil clones Robert Duvall has ever had a supporting role in. Okay, the science is absolutely ridiculous, with full-grown human clones whipped up in minutes and a doohickey that record the complete contents of your brain in seconds by blinking into your eyes. Still, there were parts I liked, silly or no.

The villainous henchmen of CloneCo. (A Division of EvilCorp) all get killed repeatedly by the Arnolds, only to be brought back, since their DNA and memory records are both on file back at CloneCo. It becomes darkly humorous after a while, especially as the henchman start to find the prospect of another violent death at Arnold’s hands more annoying than terrifying. The main villain, Amoral Corporate Prick, ends up being killed by his own clone- after all, the clone is an Amoral Corporate Prick, too.

My favorite part is the way the Arnolds were handled. I’m disobeying all those PLEASE DO NOT REVEAL THE INCREDIBLE SECRET OF THE SIXTH DAY signs that were in the lobby, but here goes anyway. In the story, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is cloned without his knowledge- including his memories and personality, thanks to the aforementioned doohickey. So you’ve got two Arnolds, Arnold Classic and Arnold II, running around fighting the bad guys together.

As the movie approached its climax with both Arnolds still in action, I suddenly became certain of what was going to happen. Arnold Classic has a wife and son. Arnold II has exactly the same memories, personality, and emotions as Arnold Classic, but they can’t both be married to Mrs. Arnold. Therefore, I assumed that Arnold II would die heroically in the final confrontation with the bad guy, allowing the movie to milk the pathos of Arnold II’s death while still having a happy ending as Arnold Classic returns to his family.

They didn’t do that. Instead, both Arnolds survive. Arnold Classic returns to his family, of course. Without a place of his own in the world, Arnold II decides to travel the globe on his own for a while, so that he can have experiences Arnold Classic has never had and thus grow into a unique individual. I really liked that, and it was especially nice since it was such a surprise.

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