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Saturday, 27 September 2008

Mutant Chronicles, 2008 - Movie Review

Director: Simon Hunter
Starring: Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, John Malkovitch, Devon Aoki, Sean Pertwee, Pras
Running Time: 5 / 10
Score: 111 minutes
This review by Great Cthulhu.

Somehow this is just another example of a brand name being thrown into the shredder of film-making. One asks why? Especially with the rather unknown Mutant Chronicles (a role playing game, later board game, etc.). Well, I did play MC for a time maybe 14 years back and I liked it. So I looked forward to the movie – at least the cast looked good. But, at it was with many game/book/play/whatever turned into a movie – it had the same name, but most of the original background story is twisted, strangely falsified or just completely ripped out.

One has to ask why? While some changes always occur when converting something into a movie – for sake of pacing, storytelling, etc. – some changes are just stupid. It would have worked with the original story, but no, movie writers and directors seem just too clever and imaginative to just adapt a good story and so bastardize along, killing some of the vital features of the original story. In Mutant Chronicles this is the case with the complete background of the "Enemey", which is in the original game the Dark Legion, hailing from planet Nero, coming from another dimension and crippling all high tech with their "dark symmetry" – which is by the way why everything has this heavy industry/steam-punk flair. In the movie the enemy is a big machine that turns humans into zombies and lo! they go forth and destroy the Earth. The style is okay – they are heavily industrialized and use clumsy steam-punk's stuff – but the reason is never explained and has nothing to do with the evil that has come back. To whine on about the enemy only having one kind of mutant is pointless (they just trashed the original stuff more or less completely with the movie), but come on. Pedestrians without fine manipulation? That's the most evil the enemy can come up with? For a society as gun toting as the human race is in this movie, guys with a single spike for a hand (mutation sequence badly animated, and the spikes seem sharp and nasty, but can also be cut off with a knife) should not be that big a problem?!

Anyway. Some scenes of the movie are quite good, and the overall style of the costumes, backgrounds, etc. is not bad and captures some of the original flair. Then again the first believable and not somehow cheesy dialog happens in my book in the middle of the movie, between the main character and the captain of their drop-ship. That's something.

Shouting at the FX guys is also easy, you can only get some satisfaction from the overall computerish look if you like movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – but Mutant Chronicles always comes off as something that was not really intended to look that way. It is like back in the 80s and early 90s some guys would cry "Science Fiction Movie" and go to some old factory or mine or subterranean dungeons and make a cheap sci-fi flick, pretending to be on Mars or whatnot. Today they seem to film a movie with the same shameless bad script, some clumsy acting and just smear so much CGI over it that is looks like a big picture with Special Effects. Almost all of the splatter effects could have been done better by make-up and "real" special effects.

Acting is okay (Jane, Perlman) to forgettable (most of the crew) to very bad (Malkovich, Walton). Some actors seem to have sensed that this maybe not the best movie of all times.

Overall another attempt to convert a nice story to the big screen, wasted for all the wrong reasons. But, isn't this the case with most of this kind of movie? So, if you like Sci-Fi you can try this one, maybe its "pseudo-artlyness" appeals to you. If you like a cheap flick with some nice scenes, wobbly dialog and cheesy one-liners to watch with some friends to have a laugh – good movie for that. If you know the original Mutant Chronicles stuff you will cringe in pain and gape in awe of what has happened to the story at time and at other times feel just a little bit of the flair of the game. Just a little bit.


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