Monday 28 September 2009

Mutant Chronicles

I've been on a bit of Ron Perlman kick lately, so thanks be to Netflix for providing me with instant access to mutant Perlman.

Thousands of years ago, a comet crashed to Earth unleashing a terrible evil--a machine that turns people into mutants. The warring tribes of man bonded together to seal the infernal machine underground. The location of the device has been kept secret these many years by a monastic order. Now in the 28th century, war has inadvertently unsealed the machine. The world is slowly being overrun with mutants who want nothing more than to capture or kill everyone and bring them back to the machine. Seeing no hope for survival on Earth, the four corporations that rule the planet evacuate the population to Mars. In an attempt to save the world, Brother Samuel (Perlman) bribes a select group of soldiers to accompany him on a quest to destroy the machine.

Partway through this movie, I wondered if it was based on a video game. And then I had the horrifying thought that I might be watching a Uwe Boll movie. Turns out Mutant Chronicles is an original script loosely based on an RPG, and Uwe Boll had nothing to do with it. My first clue should have been the pacing: the story doesn't drag but moves along at a reasonable pace. Every Uwe Boll film I've seen to date (half of BloodRayne) has been interminable.

Shot entirely in digital format, most of the film is CGI, which makes for some pretty amazing imagery. But less amazing effects, little things like fire and smoke, tend to pull you out of the film. The post-apocalyptic setting of Mutant Chronicles blends WWI, futurism, and steampunk, all of which is offset by Ron Perlman's stone monastery, nestled high in the snowy mountains. These elements come together to create a world with a rich and diverse history, now decrepit, ruined by years of war.

But the film is not meant to be a commentary. The mutant aliens, I don't think, represent anything more than mutant aliens, and the mutant-making machine is just hardware. The movie doesn't waste any time telling its story, and for this reason character development is often sacrificed for action. That's not meant to be taken as a complaint--just an observation.

There's a certain amount of predictability to the proceedings, and plot is a bit thin, but the film as a whole I found to be rather entertaining. Though not without a sense of humour, moments of levity are, amazingly, few and far between, and the ending is surprisingly ironic and depressing; I was impressed.

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