I’d seen a trailer for this movie several months ago and was under the impression it would be released theatrically. The trailer impressed me and I was excited for a dark sci-fi/horror flick this summer. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this movie while channel surfing on the sci-fi channel! I missed about the first 8 minutes of the flick, but didn’t think I’d missed much exposition. I was excited to see the movie immediately and for free, but also instantly suspicious of its release on TV instead of theaters or even DVD first.
Starring Ron Pearlman, Thomas Jane and John Malkovich, none of these actors could rescue the movie from itself, though the flick was still interesting to watch for free. (The “Summer Of Free” reigns again!)
In “Mutant Chronicles”, our wars in the 28th century have broken the seal of a massive, evil machine that turns humans into mutant killers, who then hunt humans to kill and turn into mutants, rinse and repeat.
Humanity has collectively given up and is escaping to Mars, but a priest of unknown religious faith (though obviously inspired by Catholicism) believes that he has been chosen to lead a group of heroes into the earth to destroy the mutant-making machine.
The movie aims to have both style and substance. Obviously inspired by movies like “Sky Captain” and “Sin City”, this flick fills every shot with green screen backdrops and effects that did more to separate me from the action than draw me into it. The stylistic choices that make other green screen movies like “300” work were not implemented here, leaving us with lots of bells and whistles that mostly fall flat.
There is some exciting action and various effects in the movie look cool in their better moments. This movie had more special effects money thrown at it than any of the sci-fi channel’s usual Saturday night flicks. The visual design is also great, though in a few instances the colors are so drained that we are almost literally watching a black and white movie. Still, if you like dark visions of the future, you’ll find much to enjoy, visually.
Character performances are interesting enough during the movie, but instantly forgettable afterward. It’s all about the plot really, with some lip service given now and then to character development. Luckily, many genre fans don’t watch genre movies for character development.
Artistically, this movie has several elements that genre fans will enjoy, but only a precious few will give this a favored place in their DVD collection.
In terms of relevance, this movie seems interested in the topic of faith, bringing the concept up on several occasions. Those enjoying this movie will have multiple opportunities to springboard into meaningful conversation. Unfortunately, the movie has nothing of substance to say.
“Faith” is used in the same “Oprah”/pop-culture/fluff sense that carries no meaning or definition. Faith is good. We should have faith. At the climax of the film, a character who has been without faith the entire movie is told to “jump” from something very high, not knowing how he will survive. “Jump….jump… have faith.” He is told. This is clearly meant to be a moment of personal growth for the character. But no one(with one weak exception) suggests WHAT we should have faith IN.
The priest, early in the film, does implore another character to have faith in “mankind”, but this seems out of character, unless his religion worships mankind. (This didn’t seem to be the case, with multiple references to God and a Christian inspired “communion” service.) After all, didn’t mankind create the wars that woke up this evil machine? As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, man is capable of both good and evil, but good is not our natural tendency (hence the need for laws, courts, lawyers, judges, contracts, prisons and policemen) so I’d hesitate to put any faith in humanity. Our record is highly suspect.
Regarding faith, one character is scolded for not reading the religious book that she believes in. She replies, “I don’t have to read it to believe that it’s true. That is the nature of faith.” It is? That sounds like “blind” faith to me. I think it’s worth remembering that faith, particularly as the word is used in the Bible, is not blind by nature. That’s why we add the qualifier “blind” when talking about faith that gives no regard to evidence. Biblically, the word faith is used much more the way we use the word “trust” today. I trust someone or something because they have EARNED my trust with a reliable track record of some kind. “Blind” faith may be the norm in some Christian circles, but it is not biblical.
Another inconsistency in the priest’s theology is when he says that everything comes from God. (Well, so far so good.) Then he immediately says that the evil mutants have their origin “from outside”, the implication being that they do NOT come from God. Therefore, in his theology, not EVERYTHING comes from God. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but given that we absorb ideas into our personal philosophies that originate in movies and pop-culture entertainment, it bears mentioning that his theology is self-defeating.
All in all, “Mutant Chronicles” is an interesting diversion if you don’t have to pay for it, and it provides several opportunities for meaningful conversation.
Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout