Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It was almost as if I had the controller in my hand. Most of us who watch movies know that videogame movies tend to not only suck, but suck fairly hard. However with Simon Hunter’s ‘Mutant Chronicles’, which is loosely based on some popular Swedish RPG that I’ve never heard of, we have a movie that looks and feels almost exactly like a video game with hordes of horrible bad guys to mow down, boss battles, puzzles to unlock and plus you have multiple lives in the form of the various characters that we follow around as they try to save humanity. And unlike most videogame movies ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ managed not to suck. At least not to me.

In some alternate future, governments as we know them have been dissolved and the corporations have taken over, waging constant war against each other. We are dropped in the middle of one particularly ferocious battle as one

corporate faction army whose troops are bunkered down, and are led by Captain Nathan Hooker (Sean Pertwee) as he prepares for an assault by his opposing counterpart, Lt. Maximillian Von Steiner (Benno Furmann) who is rapidly advancing. What these warring counterparts don’t know is that amidst their bombs and weapons of mass destruction, they have managed to unlock an underground vault that has been sealed for a millennia that was imprisoning a horde of a horrifically violent mutant race. Soon, as soldiers begin to drop like dominoes, both sides realize rather quickly that something else is at play here well beyond their minor skirmish as the mutant assault has begun.

Believe me when I tell you that these mutants are no joke. Deformed beyond recognition, strong, fast, damn near indestructible with a large razor sharp scythe for a right arm, they begin what looks to be a final assault on humanity. Worse still is that everything that they kill is reanimated, via their little underground lab, into becoming one of them. Though the outlook is bleak, Brother Samuel (Ron Perlman), a monk in a remote location, thinks he may have the solution to end the mutant menace, though time is running out because our cities are falling to the mutant assault like a house of cards. To carry out this mission, a suicide mission if ever there was one, for it will require going into the heart of the Mutant nest, Brother Samuel needs some hero volunteers like three yesterday’s ago.

Enter hardass Major Mitch Hunter (Thomas Jane). Hunter served with his good friend Captain Hooker, who is missing and presumed dead, and he is joining forces with his former mortal enemy Lt. Steiner. Also along for the ride is Brother Samuel and six other battle tested soldiers, who will do all they can to stave off death while traveling to the depths of the heavily guarded and fortified mutant hive.  Then once they get there, the plan is to try to figure out how in the hell to decrypt some ancient puzzle which in theory should blow it all to hell. Good luck with that one.

So not only did ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ avoid sucking ass as a video game movie, I personally though it was damned entertaining. This isn’t to say that ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ is transcendent as it does possess enough plot holes and a serious lack of character development for us to lay those kinds of laurels on it, but what this bloody massacre of a movie does have in the absence of all of that other silly stuff is style to burn. I’m working on the assumption that Simon Hunter’s film is along the lines of ‘Sin City’ or ‘300’ in that most of the backgrounds that we are seeing all exist in somebody’s computer somewhere, and though some of the virtual sets may lack the spit shine polish of those seen in ‘300’, they were still extremely effective in taking us from our chairs and placing us in this imaginary bleak future. The world is apparently driven by steam and is a mixture of 1940’s wardrobe mixed with some Jules Verne type imagery which is combined to create a completely immersible, dark and dangerous atmosphere for this world. In addition to the standout visuals, ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ moves at a quick pace, is filled with plenty of marquee action sequences and be warned that these mutants are one violent gang of deformed beasts. In the absence of one singular villain, which can often be a detriment to a heroic style movie of this type, the Mutant collective more than made up for this absence of a single controlling antagonist and represented one of the most vicious, violent and horrific set of movie villains I’ve seen in some while. This helps the film in the sense that when our heroes do embark on their mission, despite fact we know somehow someway they are probably going to succeed in their near impossible task, the way it is presented and their descent in the enemies lair does seriously throw doubt into our previously presumed success of this mission.

As far as the performances go, not that any of the actors are bad by any means, but far more detail is paid to the atmosphere, environment and the mutants that is actually paid to the characters and the actual script. As such, despite the presence of such talented stalwarts as John Malkovich, Ron Perlman and Thomas Jane, most of the actors at best are fairly disposable cannon fodder, just like video game extra lives.

But if you need character development might I suggest season one of ‘Desperate Housewives’. On the other hand if you want a violent exciting action adventure filled with brutal impalings, death, and excessive mayhem, all broadcast in pristine surround sound, for my money you can’t go wrong with ‘The Mutant Chronicles’.

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