Movie Review: Sci-Fi Horror Flick ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ Could Have Been a Blockbuster

28 Aug
2010

Sci-Fi horror flick ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ could have been a blockbuster, but weak storyline, poor acting and less than stellar special effects ruined it.

Set in the 23rd century, four Corporations rule the world and they are constantly battling one another. There has been a machine buried underground for 10,000 years, which lies beneath the border of Bauhaus Corporation and Capitol Corporation, both located in Europe, that holds a deadly disaster waiting to happen.

During a battle between Capitol and Bauhaus, a bomb explodes right above this machine, and unleashes the Mutants it holds.  This machine converts people into Mutants, whose sole purpose is to kill and return ordinary people back to the machine to be converted into Mutants. A vicious cycle indeed.

Six weeks later, the Mutants have conquered most of the world, and humans that could, have left the planet to Mars.  It is up to a group a soldiers, which include Major Mitch Hunter (Thomas Jane), Brother Samuel (Ron Perlman) and Corporal Valerie Duval (Devon Aoki) to journey to the center of the machine, on what they know will be a suicide mission and blast the machine into oblivion.

Mutant Chronicles (released in 2008) is loosely based on a the role-playing game with by same name. It stars Thomas Jane (from The Punisher and TV series Hung) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and has even has a cameo by John Malkovich. If you’ve never heard of this film it is due to only a limited released and a path straight to DVD in August 2009.

The scenery is elaborate and the action is fast-paced from the very beginning. Shot in a wash of dark and muted tones, practically without color, with the exception of articles of clothing or when blood splatters, giving it a comic book feel. There is enough of a storyline for the action to have purpose, but beyond that there is no character development. During the teams transport aboard their aircraft to the location of ‘the machine’, the camera kept shifting and bouncing like a bobble head. I know it was purposely done to convey constant movement, but it made me dizzy and my first impulse was to hold the TV still. The dialogue between the soliders on board was weak and served real no purpose but as a filler for silence.

During the course of the movie, there are religious undertones and the question of faith played a large part as a motivator for the characters, but this wasn’t explored to it’s full potential. Perlman plays a man of the cloth, so faith was tied in to his character, I suppose, but doesn’t go far beyond that.

My favorite part of the movie, was the metamorphosis of Hunter (Thomas Jane) after he falls on the conveyor belt of mutant “change” inside ‘the machine’. The audience has to take creatures at face-value in most films, it is what it is. But in this scene, you actually get to see why the mutants look the way they do and you witness the process by which it happens. Hunter is the hero, you want him to escape, so you squirm a bit with anticipation, hoping he makes it out alive.

I found the movie somewhat entertaining even though the acting was quite poor, the special effects are not that bad, but surely not Blockbuster material, hence it’s path to a limited release and a beeline to DVD.

Rating: 5/10 stars (I’m being nice.)

Running time: 111 minutes

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