Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into with Mutant Chronicles. Having never been a gamer, I had never heard of the role playing game it derived from. I figured it might have spawned from one of the thousands of millions of graphic novels that I also never got into. I also figured that Mutant Chronicles would be little more than style over substance. Indeed, the Mutant Chronicles universe did indeed feature several comic book adaptations (as well as several video and board games). And the movie most assuredly goes for the throat (literally at times) with its special effects and imagery.
Normally, a movie shot almost entirely in front of a green screen has me writhing in agony. But, in the case of Mutant Chronicles, it adds that certain element of graphic novel-style flair to it. Blood is deliberately brighter and cartoonish-like. Backgrounds can consist of absolute nothingness. And the ambiguous combinations of costumes and scenery add to the fun.
The story takes place many many moons in the future. Earth has reached a proverbial state of dystopia that is so common in science fiction. Four mega-corporations dominate the planet (fucking Wal-Mart — I told you this would happen, people!) and contract global wars against each other for the few natural resources that remain. During one of these battles, the long-sealed entrance to a gigantic machine is blasted open — a machine of extraterrestrial origin that turns humans into nightmarish and unstoppable mutants. Mutants that like to kill and drag their victims back to the machine to turn them in mutations (much like Wal-Mart does now).
When the high and mighty of Earth decide it's time to abandon ship and make way for an off-world colony, Brother Samuel (Ron Perlman) makes a deal with a company bureaucrat (John Malkovich, who gets third billing despite only being in the movie for a few minutes) to arrange for a small squad of bad-asses to get to the root of the problem and (hopefully) rage against the machine (sorry, had to say that). Thomas Jane heads off the group of said bad-asses with co-stars Devon Aoki, Benno Fürmann, Anna Walton, and Tom Wu. Sean Pertwee also puts in another profanity-laden performance as Jane’s commanding officer.
Magnet Releasing has given us several options for Mutant Chronicles on home video: a single-disc DVD, a two-disc DVD set, and a Blu-ray. Both DVD versions feature a pleasant 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that brings out the best in the film’s dreary look. Both DVDs also contain a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack that gets the job done. Oddly enough, no English captions are included — the only subtitle option is Spanish.
An audio commentary with director Simon Hunter and actor Ron Perlman can be found on either release. Mutant Chronicles: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition features a second disc devoted entirely to special features. Included on it are a documentary, deleted scenes, a promotion teaser short film (with optional commentary), interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes, yada yada yada — you get the idea. I think it goes without saying that fans of Mutant Chronicles and this particular type of genre in general will probably want to go for either the two-disc edition or the Blu-ray release (which has all of the bonus material).
As far as acting and writing goes, Mutant Chronicles could be a hell of a lot better. But, in many ways, it’s the execution of both that again add to the appeal of this film. Personally, I found it to be a charming (and very bloody) way to escape from reality for 101 minutes.
And besides, how else will you ever hear Davon Aoki shout, “Put it in the hole! Any hole!”?