I appreciate that Aftermath tries to do something a little different, at least. Rather than sticking to the straightahead structure of Downfall, this followup opens with Aegis-7 a smoldering memory. Only four survivors remain from the crew of the USG O'Bannon (O'Bannon! Get it?), and some sinister, shadowy government organization or...something is questioning them one by one to find out what the hell happened. Each interrogation begins with a computer simulation of the subject's most intense fear, because...???...and then a fragment of the story is revealed in flashback. It pretty much boils down to:
The first two-thirds of Aftermath don't amount to much more than endless wheel-spinning. The first Dead Space animated flick dove into the outbreak and started sloshing around the red stuff remarkably quickly. Aftermath, meanwhile, is a slow, tedious slog. For most of the movie, the body count is anemic, there's very little blood, and the spurts of action are short and sparse. I honestly thought after a while that there weren't going to be any necromorphs or unhinged alien monsters at all. It's just a parade of boring characters standing around and doing boring things. I don't care about the rock that was salvaged from Aegis-7. I don't care about the ex-marine who's so delusional after the death of his little girl that he sees her ghostly image everywhere, is convinced she's still with him, and won't shut up about it. I don't care about the one-armed guy whose brother or cousin or whatever was bludgeoned to death. I don't care about the dweeby scientist guy's family issues or the affair he's carrying on with that foxy Korean chick in the lab coat. I don't care about the nefarious investigator types that are torturing their way towards a connection to the alien fragment. Dead Space: Aftermath goes out of its way to be as aggressively dull as possible. How can a flick where an entire planet explodes and a sprawling ship teeming with innocent people are brutally slaughtered be this boring? Can't you flashback to something happening instead? There's no sign of anything all that necromorphic until right at two-thirds of the way in. Things get more lively from there -- acid spit, dismemberment, and a whole helluva lot more blood -- but it's far too little, far too late. It doesn't help that the creatures really aren't that menacing, and the tension's deflated since we already know who waltzed out of there in one piece. (or if you want to be nitpicky, the future and the even-more-future, but whatever). The flashbacks are animated in an anime-influenced style, while the wraparounds are tackled with CG. The thing is that the computer animation looks like I'm playing a PC game circa 1995 or something. It's stiff, almost completely devoid of detail, and stacked against largely empty backgrounds. Watch these awkwardly animated characters run and try not to laugh. That's a dare! A challenge! Or better yet, just stay away altogether. Skip It.
Dead Space: Aftermath is in the running as the single worst looking animated title on Blu-ray. Maybe it's unfair to ding down the overall score because of the embarrassingly shoddy computer-animated wraparounds -- there's not a format past, present, or future that could salvage that -- but I don't care. The CG animation is inept on every conceivable level, and it's dragged down further by some aliasing and shimmering in the linework. The shadowing is so clumsy that it's tough to tell where that ends and the unintended posterization begins. Heavy banding definitely plagues flares, fades, and the excruciatingly bland backgrounds, though. On the upside, at least you can tell that these CG sequences were rendered in high-def. The traditional animation...? Not so much. The linework is so soft that it's just about indistinguishable from an upconverted DVD. But hey...! Don't take my word for it. ™ on display here tends to distract me from that sort of thing.
At least it sounds
There aren't any dubs or downmixes this time around. Dead Space: Aftermath does feature optional subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish, though.
Nothing, really. There's a trailer for the Dead Space 2 game along with a couple plugs for other Anchor Bay releases, but that's it. I guess I could mention that Dead Space: Aftermath comes packaged with an embossed, glossy slipcover.
The Final Word
A lazy cash-in on a successful video game franchise, Dead Space: Aftermath fails spectacularly on just about every front. To really rub salt into the wound, it's obscenely overpriced, packing a $34.98 sticker price for some of the worst animation on Blu-ray and essentially no extras whatsoever. Skip It.