I have recently seen the Mutant Chronicles on DVD a film that was frequently advertised in the pre movie trailers at my local multiplex but never actually shown there. A fate I think will be shared by Franklyn, due out last month and not a sniff of it in the cinema!
Mutant Chronicles is a sci-fi that looks like a video game and has the retro-future look that has become popular recently. During the ice age an alien machine was sent to earth to turn men into mutants, a sort of zombie type killing machine. A group of monks deactivate it by sealing it deep in the ground. Years later in 2707 the world (now controlled by four corporations) is at war. During a battle the seal is broken and soon mutants are taking over the world. As the population flees to off world colonies a monk (Ron Perlman) from the order who originally buried the machine sets out recruit soldiers to destroy the machine with a small group made up from former enemies from all four corporations.
There is little in the way of plot. The group travel to the site of the machine and have to kill the mutants along the way. Obviously they lose some of their number, some of whom come back as mutants. Then we have the final battle to destroy the machine with a nice little twist. Where the film really works is in the CGI heavy visuals. It isn’t the best CGI in the world but a great deal of thought has gone into the production design (a lot more than into the plot and character development!). The steam powered spaceships and art deco skyscrapers are a B movie treat reminiscent of Casshern. The films origins are as a Swedish role-playing game. The review in empire magazine refers to the characters as “a band of Dungeons & Dragons-style warriors” and jokes “Perlman even carries the rulebook with him” referring to the text the monk refers to along the way.
The charters are two dimensional but that is standard for this sub-genre and doesn’t really matter. We have Ron Perlman as warrior monk with what I think was supposed to be an Irish accent. His sidekick Anna Walton (recently seen as Princess Nuala along side Perlman in Hellboy) is a nun who is pretty handy with a sword (useful!), she has also taken a vow of silence that she breaks later in the film, she shouldn’t have bothered they didn’t give her anything useful to say. Thomas Jane is the hero of the film with Sean Pertwee playing his doomed friend (how often does he survive to the end of a film?) The German actor Benno Fürmann plays their former enemy now fighting along side them. Devon Aoki is described as “a single mother with 62 confirmed kills” I think the casting director must be a Sin City fan . John Malkovich’s cameo as a corporate boss was probably only shot to get a big star in the trailer.
As a film it isn’t about to appear on anyone’s top ten list but it was an enjoyable enough piece of nonsense.