Mutant Chronicles
dir Simon Hunter
scr Philip Eisner
with Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, John Malkovich, Anna Walton, Devon Aoki, Sean Pertwee, Benno Fürmann, Luis Echegaray, Tom Wu, Steve Toussaint, Pras Michel, Shauna Macdonald
release UK 10.Oct.08
08/UK 1h41
Mutant Chronicles
CAPTION: Jane and Michel

perlman malkovich sw
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Mutant Chronicles A cheesy attempt to throw everything at the screen, this futuristic thriller would no doubt work much better as a videogame, where issues of plot and characters don't matter anyway.

In the year 2707, when the world is ruled by warring corporations, a deep-secret alien machine is inadvertently unearthed, releasing a plague of spike-armed mutated humans. One corporate president (Malkovich) summons the monastic keepers (Perlman and Walton) of a book that contains the secret to shutting down the machine again. And he hires lone mercenary Hunter (Jane) to assemble a crack team to go underground and confront the mutants. So down they go into an underground city, facing obstacles and dropping one by one. Will anyone reach the heart of the machine?

Silly question! Obviously, this isn't going to be a film about humanity's great failure in the face of an ancient enemy. And we very guess which two characters are likely to make it to the bitter end. Although there are some surprises along the way, mainly involving the unspeakable grisliness the mutants unleash on anyone they meet. And that really is the main thing here: glaringly red blood splashing liberally all over the otherwise grubby, murky set design.

Much of the film was clearly shot against green screen, as most sets and effects are the quality of a videogame animation. But that wouldn't be a problem if the dialog wasn't so appalling that it often makes us howl with laughter (Malkovich's monologs are almost worth the ticket price). It's hilariously over-serious and deeply cheesy, and the actors play it that way, anchored by Jane's cartoonish, snorting tough guy.

The whizzing camera and expansive digital scenery keep our eyes busy, while the frenetic pace and continual battles make sure we don't get bored. This is a loud, messy and very busy movie with virtually nothing beneath the surface. Not only is all of the religious symbolism completely hollow, but the premise itself is a rehash of Terminator and Galactica mythologies, while the structure is like a gothic Resident Evil. In other words, there's nothing original or involving here, but it does make us both cringe and laugh, although perhaps not always in the way the filmmakers intended.

cert 18 themes, language, very strong violence 7.Oct.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall