Friday, September 11, 2009

Review: Mutant Chronicles

Disclaimer: I have only now been informed that this movie is based off a 1990s roleplaying game, but as I am unfamiliar with the source, I can only rate the movie on its merits. Of which there are pretty much zero.

So, when you picture the year 2707 (what a random number), what comes to mind? Flying cars? Interstellar travel? The complete annihilation of mankind? Well, you're half right! It turns out that in 2707, the world will be completely controlled by 4 corporations, with nary an Antitrust Committee to be found. These corporations, in their infinite wisdom, will have proven that the most effective war technique is dress their soldiers in World War I era uniforms, complete with helmets, dig a bunch of trenches, then shoot at each other with futuristic projectile weapons and huge cannons. They have also found that the most efficient energy source to power airships is coal. Luckily, by 2707, there's still plenty to go around.

See, the thing is, sometime in the previous 12,000 years, a spaceship landed on Earth, made a bunch of mutants, rallied mankind together to close off the only possible entrance, and write it down....just in case. The movie's version appears to show that this closure of the hole was achieved approximately 500 years prior to the film's events; and that because the only timeframe given for the landing of the spaceship was "after the Ice Age", it stands to reason that it wasn't all that long before it closed up shop. Otherwise, the world probably would have been overran by mutants pretty quickly - because, once they get you, they drag you back to the Machine, which turns you into one. Then only "massive tissue damage" can kill you. So, when man's lust for war inadvertently blows up the lock on the door, the mutants get out again. For some reason, this time all that is required is 8 people with swords and guns who happen to have a piece of the Machine which is believed to be a detonation device of some kind. The plan: well, blow it up, of course. If man has learned anything from centuries of warfare, it's that the easiest way to deal with anything is to blow it up. Not that the price of our bloodlust is the end of the human race. That's just silly.

The movie features no less than Thomas "I play the same wisecracking, yelling moral beacon I always do" Jane, Ron Perlman, and John Malkovich. Seriously, Malkovich. I don't know what he got paid, but he has about 12 lines in the first 15 minutes, and none of them is delivered with the slightest interest. He couldn't have phoned it in more if he was wearing a bluetooth headset in the outtakes. Perlman seems to cop an Irish accent of sorts early on, but largely forgets it going forward. Jane needs to stick to light hearted films, because I just can't take him seriously as the "badass". The most interesting character in the film was the female monk who took a vow of silence, right up until she started talking. She was far more expressive with her eyes than she ever managed to be with her mouth.

There's really nothing salvageable here. What was more random, the spinning platforms with random flame bursts that served no logical purpose other than to make the climactic fight scene a tad more interesting, or the way in which grenades detonated differently depending on what one's purpose was? If you were just trying to kill yourself before bleeding to death, a small poof and some smoke is the result. If you have to kill a bunch of Mutant-Zombie-Infecteds by being a martyr, it makes a big boom.

This movie can't seem to decide if it wants to be a cautionary tale, a faith versus science debate, a survival horror, or a sci-fi. It tries to be all of them, and lends no depth to any of the themes. Apparently, a sequel is in the works, despite the fact nobody seems to have ever heard of it.


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