The world is at war. Corporations rule every inch of the globe, and each of them seek to control the last remaining resources left on the planet. But now, a new dawn is approaching. Their selfish fighting unearths a machine beneath the Earth's crust that contains a new mutant menace, and one that threatens to destroy all of mankind. A sage cleric uncovers an ancient tome, the Mutant Chronicles, which may be the key to destroying the infernal machine. He must assemble a team of skilled warriors to accompany him into the bowels of the Earth to battle unknown terrors if humanity has any hope for survival!
MUTANT CHRONICLES is a live-action adaptation that takes its source from the popular Science Fiction role-playing game and graphic novel series of the same name. Simon Hunter, director of the underground hit LIGHTHOUSE, delivers this enormous epic using the same type of computerized environments found in SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW and SIN CITY. The stylized world that Hunter and his visual effects team have created cannot be confused with the cheap computerization that is found in so many other Hollywood productions. MUTANT CHRONICLES possesses an incredible scale with elaborate designs and a precise attention to detail, all of which were made for a fraction of the cost. Although it opened to mixed reviews, the film is an impressive feat considering its size. This is the film that Neil Marshall's DOOMSDAY should have been if it had been handled properly.
Hunter proves to be an enormous talent and an amazing visualist, bringing to mind other notable filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His practical set pieces are impossible to distinguish from the computerized effects, which gives the digital facades a heightened sense of believability. The costuming, weaponry, and architecture also blend elements from the past, present, and future to create a unique aesthetic with its own rich history. MUTANT CHRONICLES maintains a steady stream of action that is fast-paced and intense, ranging from explosive gun fights to thrilling hand-to-hand combat sequences. As if this wasn't enough, it also packs in a ton of gory effects, where the mutants slice and stab their way through countless opponents in a spray of blood on screen.
Thomas Jane stars as Major Mitch Hunter, a roughneck marine that unknowingly assumes the role of the prophesized Deliverer that will destroy the machine. Jane is just as perfectly understated as he had been a year earlier in THE MIST. Ron Perlman, on the other hand, seems completely out-of-place and ambivalent about his part in the film. Each of their many co-stars also work to create a winning team of warriors, although SIN CITY's Devon Aoki stands out the most as the sword-wielding Valerie Duval.
MUTANT CHRONICLES may have become an instant classic if the story had only been more involved. While nothing can count against its visual style, the thin plotting seems entirely reflective of its roots in tabletop role-play. The characters are assembled and given a difficult task, but from there, it is simply a matter of hacking and slashing their way into the heart of the machine. This simplicity makes it easy to follow but lacks the emotional investment that ties the viewer to the characters and events in the film. Outside of this unfortunate shortcoming, MUTANT CHRONICLES proves to be one of the most ambitious recent entries in the Science Fiction genre.
If you liked MUTANT CHRONICLES, check out:
NATURAL CITY, CASSHERN, DOOMSDAY.