Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Christmas Miracle

Replicas (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A whirlybird hightails it over the forest to Arecibo, Puerto Rico, target Bionyne Research Facility, carrying a time-sensitive cargo (“Donor en route.”) A body is removed, it is ascertained to have a “Viable cortex,” and amidst some techno razzle-dazzle its “imprint” is made onto android 345. “This one speaks,” declares Dr. William Foster (Keanu Reeves.) How­ever, it is soon kaput much to the chagrin of the team. But “It's progress.”

Christmas treeOut of the frying pan, into the fire, the overworked scientist takes some family vacation time off. When his wife and kids meet a tragic accident, Will is still in work mode and with the aid of fellow scientist Ed Whittle (Thomas Middle­ditch), he combines his mind trans­fer process with Ed's animal cloning pods to bring his family back. The wobbly replicants go Christmas tree shopping. One of the kids comments on artificial trees, “I think they're fake.” That's like the pot calling the kettle black.

Will's nosey boss Mr. Jones (John Ortiz) drops by to wish them “Feliz Navidad” and to explain the score. The godawful amount of money that went into their research was not invested from some altruistic motive of helping wounded veterans. The backers expect results, meaning Will has to get rid of his Xmas tree and get back to the project they're paying him for. Jones is backed up by armed security. Will has no defense; he's just a hapless scientist who knows nothing but his work. But as western writer Craig Johnson puts it, “Beware the man with only one weapon, for he surely knows how to use it” (33.)


After a hard day at the officce, Will had a discussion with his wife Mona (Alice Eve) about his mind-transfer work:

Will Foster: “We're the sum total of what has happened to us and how we processed it. That's what makes us us. It's all neurochemistry.”

Mona: “Do you really believe that? That's all I am? Your children? Just pathways, electrical signals and chemistry? You have kids that love you and a wife that adores you and we have a scientist.”

Mona: “I'm just worried you're losing sight of what's right and wrong.”

It seems a good idea he take some time off with his family and sort out some ethical questions. They leave during a horrendous tropical storm (“Hoist the main­sail, Ahab.”) Their vehicle flounders and rather than call the police to report the accident, Will brings the bodies home and brings Ed the cloning scientist over with his equipment and his clone pods. The ethics just got a whole lot hairier, which Ed constantly reminds him of, with frequent references to prison.

It gets worse. They were escaping through a deluge and those square pods now become Noah's ark in an arche­typical way. On top of every­thing else, we might have survivors' guilt, being descendents of Noah's family that escaped the flood. When Ed says Will is “up to nefarioius shit,” one might think of Noah leaving a drowning world without launching so much as a lifeboat.

Will's big problem now is he's got four bodies but only three pods, pods that were purloined from Bionyne who is going to want them (and all their equipment) back once the 345 droid project is shut down for lack of progress. Will can download the “person” but there's no pod for it and unlikely for there to be one any­time soon. So who gets the short straw? He wants Ed to decide for him, but Ed wants nothing of it; it's all on Will. He should have thought of this before going on his “rescue” mission. The odd person out will have memory of him or her erased from the other three, so they don't give the game away once they awake. The unlucky one if ever recovered will have a gap in shared family memory, making her less than a full person, as in the infamous Dred Scott decision.

Let's look at the archetype source. The world took a major blow with the flood, diminishing nature's capacity, necessi­tating labor intensive means of production. Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civili­zation and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14). Noah has four genetic lines to choose from, which one will be the slave class? (Gen. 10:1) “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.” There were three sons and a hypothetical fourth if Noah were to have more off­spring later.

(Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” Canaan is here tied in with his father Ham as the effect of what is to happen to Ham gets delayed.

(Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” Noah's case focuses on their bed­side manners, and Will's case on their table manners. Shem and Japheth covered up their father. One of Will's kids covers his pancakes with excessive syrup. Another covers her cereal with milk to overflowing.

(Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Our best presumption is that Ham marked his naked father in some way allowing Noah to “know what his younger son had done unto him.” The third of Will's kids draws on the kitchen table. Will has to scrub off the graffito as he's throwing out a gallimaufry of memorabilia. Noah's Shem received a blessing, and another of Will's kids got a special session on the mind machine to eliminate his “bad dream.” Japheth was to “dwell in the tents of Shem” and another one of Will's kids got grounded for a time.

The servitude of Canaan son of Ham was developed in the time of Joshua who was out to conquer the whole land of Canaan and eliminate its inhabitants including the Gibeonites, but they had other plans. (Josh. 9:3-6) “And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now there­fore make ye a league with us.” They're telling Joshua they live too far away for him to be concerned about them.

(Josh. 9:16) “And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them.” Now the gig is up. Gibeon was supposed to be eliminated along with the rest of Canaan, but now the Israelites have made a league with them. What are they going to do?

water cooler(Josh. 9:20-23) “This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them. And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them. And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Where­fore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us? Now there­fore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bond­men, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” The Gibeonites do in fact become bondmen per Noah's earlier determination on the children of Ham, Canaan in particular. There is always menial work to be done. “Hewers of wood” would correspond to cutting down those Christmas trees in our movie. “And drawers of water” would correspond to some­one offering Will a drink of water when he was faking a cough as he returns to work.

(Josh. 9:24-27) “And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, there­fore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do. And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not. And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose.” The Gibeonites recognized that it was better for them to be enslaved (“to do unto us as it seemeth good and right unto thee”) rather than slaughtered. In effect they were answering for the whole line of Ham who considered it better to come through the flood as slaves rather than be drowned out.

(Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.” (Gen. 10:6) “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62). Canaan is carrying the curse on behalf of the whole family by a figure of speech called a synecdoche where a part stands for the whole. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183).

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. The screen­play was written by Chad St. John, and the story by Stephen Hamel. It stars Alice Eve, Keanu Reeves, and Thomas Middle­ditch. I think Alice Eve gave a good performance by accident. She seems to be at sea in front of a camera, but since she is playing a mother who recently relocated, she looks like she is experiencing culture shock for real. Keanu Reeves is a consummate actor, and they gave him a part where he's in agony over various ethical decisions so that I was unable to leave the theater unaffected. Thomas Middle­ditch played a technician on the side but did so with such verve that his role seemed larger than it was. The security guys looked like second string gunsels hired by a company strapped for cash. The boss played by John Ortiz came across with a certain familiarity as a boss who is easy to hate.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for thematic material, violence, disturbing images, some nudity and sexual references. The science won't stand up to close scrutiny. There was good direccting. The scientific gagetry was impressive. Explanations of it were pretty cool when they occurred. It's actually one of better sci-fi movies I've seen as it doesn't try too hard.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This one got to me more than I'm used to, so I am going to rate it pretty high. They did some things right.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print. Software.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homophobia and Heterosexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Johnson, Craig. Depth of Winter. New York: Penguin Random House, 2018. Print.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.