(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.)
THE MUTANT CHRONICLES is the perfect kind of movie to screen at Comic-Con. A sci-fi actioner that makes the maximum use of its limited budget, as-yet undistributed, but with actors popular in geekdom who all show up (Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, and Devon Aoki). Fill up a room or four (Room 6CDEF is basically four with all the barriers removed), pack the house, get ’em cheering, and you can make a good case that your film is saleable.
And it’s no classic — though it follows the ALIENS template, more or less (team of soldiers on a mission who get picked off one by one by monsters), it shouldn’t be compared to higher budget things. Instead, think of it in comparison to similar direct-to-video flicks, and notice how much more solid it is than most. The script maybe could have been punched up — it starts with an interesting premise that isn’t fully explored. In the year 2707, the world is ruled by four corporations, which fight wars against each other in WWI trench style with massive artillery cannons. But when the wars break open a seal in the earth and awaken something called The Machine, mutants begin appearing, nasty dudes with melty faces and huge, scimitar like right hands. The corporate war angle is abruptly dropped, as soldier Thomas Jane and Irish-accented monk Ron Perlman lead a team to destroy The Machine and kick mutant ass.
It’s often clear that blue-screening was used, as the lighting on the actors doesn’t always quite match the lighting of the backdrops. However, rather than a CG world, director Simon Hunter has done things the old-fashio0ned way, with miniatures, and the result looks impressively expensive for a movie he says was made “pretty much inside a cow shed in the Isle of Man.”
The blood is computer enhanced, a glowing red that’s almost neon. Looks cool, though.