a critiQal film review Mutant Chronicles (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: In the year 2707, war rages Earth's four giant corporations as they battle over the planet's dwindling resources. Amid heavy combat, an ancient buried seal shatters, releasing a horrific mutant army from its eternal prison deep within the Earth. As the mutant plague threatens human extinction, a single squad of soldiers descends into the Earth to save mankind.

517 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 35s)

With a cast that includes Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman and John Malkovich, you would think the sci-fi horror picture Mutant Chronicles would be the talk of the time – despite having been in production for over a year. Instead, the film was released this past April (after being released in Russia in August 2008 – go figure) without much fanfare.

Still, this futuristic sci-fi slashfest sounded intriguing, so I added it to my Blockbuster® Queue. Recently, I was looking for something to rent, and stumbled across Mutant Chronicles, which I’d almost completely forgotten about. With it’s quick turnaround from theaters to DVD, I wasn’t really expecting much, but decided to give Mutant Chronicles a shot anyhow.

Thomas Jane is the lead character in Mutant Chronicles and actually turns in a fulfilling performance for once. Despite utterly failing in The Punisher (2004), he’s bulked up a little bit more and takes on the role of battle-hardened soldier easily in Mutant Chronicles. It seems the writer and director knows just how to use the battle-weary veteran to the film’s best advantage (most noticeably, when looking out for the “little guy” – the helpless refugees – in one of the best scenes in the film).

Ron Perlman takes on the role of a faithful monk-figure, and gives a performance that will remember some viewers of his Hellboy (2004) character – with a bit of his old “Beauty and the Beast” (TV) character tossed in for good measure. He’s reliably decent in the film, if not outstanding, and viewers will be able to follow along with him without getting too bored.

John Malkovich turns in one of his better bit parts to date, easily overshadowing his attempts in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) and Knockaround Guys (2002), just to name a few – despite only being on-screen for a very short time.

The rest of the cast, while semi=entertaining, doesn’t really get to flesh out their characters. while they do decent jobs in the roles they’ve been given, their char4acters are merely cardboard outlines, and the viewer will never really get to know them enough at al.. Basically, their just filling placeholders (ie…[insert female soldier here], [insert military officer here], etc.) in the script, and that’s about it.

At it’s base, Mutant Chronicles is really nothing more than a zombies-in-the-future type of film. They’ve made a couple of changes (the zombies are now mutants0, but not really enough to distract the viewers from the very simple layout of the film. Mutant Chronicles follows a very straight-forward path, stopping at predetermined points along the way. Unfortunately, the occasionally dark and confusing action sequences don’t help the viewer forget the movie contains hardly any surprises.

While the future-zombies (er…mutants) idea will always be intriguing, and Thomas Jane actually gives a decent performance for once, Mutant Chronicles is a bit too straight-forward and dry to really be considered great. Still, it’s not that bad for an action movie for the popcorn=chomping crowd, but the sometimes slightly confusing and almost too-dark action scenes will leave most viewers wishing the film had just been a bit…more.

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