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STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
• Commentary with Ron Perlman
and director Simon Hunter
• The Making of Mutant Chronicles
• Green Screen and Storyboard comparisons
• Teaser short film
• Deleted scenes
• Concept art
• more inside this 2 disc Collector’s Edition
Buried beneath the earth for ages, an army of mutants rises to destroy mankind.
Ron Perlman, Thomas Jane, John Malkovich and Sam Pertwee.
It is the year 2707, and Ron Perlman is a priest. He’s tasked by his brotherhood to assemble a crack team of commandos to destroy an ancient machine that’s been buried under the earth for 10,000 years. Corporations now rule the world, and are at constant war with each other over the remaining natural resources.
For those who have no clue, Mutant Chronicles is based on the role playing game of the same name, released in 1993. This film, directed by Simon Hunter, strays heavily from the games’ basic narrative in order to adopt their own arc, which turns out to not be such a good thing. Rarely do RPG’s translate well to the screen, and you need look no further than Dungeons & Dragons. There’s something about the material that hasn’t translated over yet, but that doesn’t mean filmmakers should stop trying. I would rather they try and fail than not at all, which is why I don’t hate Chronicles – I’m just indifferent to it.
Mutant Chronicles is hardly the worst thing out there, it just suffers from not having a very interesting story – and one that borrows from many sources; Dune being a major influence, and dare I say The Core? The storyline of having to descend great depths to attach a device that will quell the primary struggle is very reminiscent of that awful thing (sorry, Johnny R.).
What is even more baffling is why the filmmakers decided to ignore the more interesting RPG story outline, which has nothing to do with ancient objects that turn humans into mutants! Well, that’s probably the answer right there: it was ignored because they already had their own story in mind and just put the Mutant Chronicles name on it. Other than mentioning the factions from the game and the presence of the priests it bears no resemblance.
And I don’t really care about that, because the game is hardly a classic. But if you’re going to use original ideas you’d better make sure they’re of higher quality than the base material… and that isn’t the case here.
The rest of the production suffers likewise. The acting is bland, lead by super-stiff Thomas Jane. Malkovich is his typically overrated self in the brief scenes he has (his line delivery here is awful). Even Perlman seems disinterested at times, although he is one of the very few highlights. Everyone else is around strictly to supply the body count; there are small attempts at character development but ultimately they’re abandoned for the easier action scenes.
A main theme with the movie is its lack of originality, from the story to even the look. Visually it resembles Sky Captain, but has none of its charm (if there is such a thing). It looks nice in places, cheap in others. The effects waver in terms of quality, with the CGI elements clashing with the practical whenever they’re used at the same time. The mutants are mostly prosthetic, which is one of the few choices that actually worked well for the film. With the color saturated as much as it is, it helps blend the makeup rather well. A nice touch.
Overall it’s a highly disappointing movie. Sure its violent, but doesn’t help the weak story or lackluster acting. I have no love for the RPG it was based on, but I feel it would have worked better had the characters not have been so dire and uninteresting, and the story more focused. It’s sloppy film making and the performances don’t help the cause.
A waste of time, actually.
The bonus disc is loaded, with a decent commentary from director Simon Hunter and Ron Perlman – who didn’t seem to pay much attention to the movie the first two times he saw it, based on comments he makes early on! The Making Of is nearly 2 hours worth of behind the scenes footage, and manages to be very entertaining in spite of the film it’s covering.
All the other stuff is ancillary: webisodes, concept art, storyboards: it’s all filler, but has some worth I suppose. There are 6 deleted scenes for you, but offer nothing of interest. So while the disc has lots on it only the commentary and the Making Of are worth your time.
Of course, if you bought this film them maybe ALL of it is worth your time, but you’ll have to be the judge of that.