Mutant Chronicles, The

dir: Simon Hunter
[img_assist|nid=77|title=Pretty Goddamn Stupid|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=175|height=250]
You really have to wonder how some movies get made. I don’t mean microbudget indie films about depressed people having soulless sex and squeezing their pimples in the mirror for two hours: all you need is a camera and a PC for editing to do that.

But some films sound so bad even as you’re watching them that you can’t help but wonder how drunk the people were who gave the go ahead, and how desperate for attention some of these actors were to agree to appear in something like this.

Ron Perlman, I’m sure, doesn’t turn down any film roles. He’s that prolific, and probably wants to pay off the mortgage or get a country house or whatever. At the very least he’s like an American Michael Caine, who appears in the majority of movies made in the last thirty years. Perlman’s appearance here isn’t that surprising, I guess. He plays what I thought was the main character, Brother Samuel.

Brother Samuel is but one of the many characters in this strange flick, but not the most inexplicable. What is John Malkovich doing here? Surely Malkovich has made enough money over the years to be able to turn down a role every now and then.

But no…

Brother Samuel appears to be the head of an order of monks/warrior priests, on some kind of alternate Earth which shares similar geography with our own, and they speak English, but everything else is slightly skewiff. Skewiff in strange ways. The order headed by Brother Samuel is dedicated to awaiting the return of some evil mutants who were imprisoned under the earth along with their evil machine that turns the regular people the mutants kill into mutants.

During a war between rival corporations that looks a hell of a lot like the trench warfare in France during (our) World War I, the seal is blown apart, unleashing hordes of ugly zombie mutants with a claw or a serrated flipper for an arm from the earth, who have presumably been waiting for thousands of years just for this to happen.

I know why Sean Pertwee is in this, because he’s in almost every vaguely culty, vaguely trashy British flick (or, as I suspect this one is, a Euro-pudding flick) put out in the last decade (Equilibrium, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday). But surely he and everyone else involved (excluding Thomas Jane) read the scripts before they agree to work?

Thomas Jane and Sean Pertwee play soldiers from the Capitol and Imperial corporations respectively, which means they’re indistinguishable from an American soldier circa 1945, and a Brit soldier circa 1916. Pertwee has dignity to lose, but Jane, well, he’s just lucky to get any work, isn’t he?

Devon Aoki, some hot mute British actress, creepy German guy, an annoying plump Hispanic guy; these other people must be desperate for work as well, because none of them turned this amazing script down either.

The mutants are, inexplicably, taking over the whole planet. Sure they’re violent and scream a lot, but the only thing I can see explaining why they’ve triumphed over humanity is that humanity was napping at the controls.

And they have that claw, which I guess is pretty handy. Doesn’t do much good when you’re trying to operate a mobile phone, though. Hugging your grandma, picking up a puppy, masturbation: all of these are impossible for the mutants, which probably explains why they’re so angry.

Still doesn’t explain why humanity is doomed, DOOMED, and why they have to escape the planet for Mars. Last I checked Mars doesn’t have a breathable atmosphere.

What this film becomes (for all its nifty editing and the not-completely-incompetent way it is put together) is a poor Aliens rip-off using the latest and cheapest in digital technology. I would hazard a guess and say that this was entirely filmed in digital, allowing for that all pervasive only-the-people-are-real aesthetic which is going to clog up cinemas, DVD shelves and download queues more and more, I suspect, in the wake of 300’s success.

It obviates the need for costly sets and even more expensive CGI effects, but it doesn’t guarantee a quality night out for the family.

Oh good god no. This is terrible by any reasonable definition, but not entirely unwatchable in a genre way, up until an ending so retarded that I really would have preferred a story where good doesn’t actually triumph for once. To point out that the ending finds new levels of human stupidity previously only theorised would do a disservice to all those academics and scientists working around the clock to locate the stupidity particle believed to constitute the fundamental building block of the universe. It is, after all, why they built that large hadron collider.

The acting is uniformly awful but appropriate to the subject matter, and when Devon Aoki, a pixie-ish looking Japanese-American isn’t the worst actor in a flick, you know they’ve found new ways to fuck things up. Nothing the mutants do makes sense, but nothing the humans do trying to save humanity makes sense either.

There is a Prophecy, you see, about some Heroic types doing something to the Infernal Mutant Machine buried under the earth that will save humanity. It’s in the holy book held by Brother Samuel. But no-one else can read it apart from him. And there’s this object taken from the machine millennia ago which he believes will blow the machine up. They have no indication of why it would blow the machine up, they just believe it will do so.

Whenever anyone in the story, as in, a non-religious character points out the obvious plot holes in the story, a religious character simply says something like “You Gotta Have Faith.” Even in an Irish accent that doesn’t make much sense to me.

Sure, it’s the basis of theology, astrology, creationism, and a lot of make-up and clothing worn by females, but simply believing something to be true rarely if ever makes it so. In a story like this I guess it’s enough to shut people up and have them careening forwards in a plot that makes no sense anyway, but it transcends ridiculousness and goes back all the way around to just being stupid.

It’s sort of a steam-powered universe with funky, baroque designs to much of the machinery and transportation, but it never really goes far enough to create a distinctive world. Mostly characters look either like Eastern European refugees, generic soldiers or zombies with lobster claws. It’s not a good look for anyone.

I cut the flick a lot of slack, was prepared to accept its different universe with a half-open mind, until an unintelligible section where the mutants were flying around in a steam powered ship trying to knock down Our Heroes. It just didn’t make any sense, or at the very least it made less sense than something already quite insensible to me.

Thomas Jane, wooden as always, wooden as a hardwood floor, is the American hero stand-in, in a shallow attempt to get an American cinematic release (which will never transpire) who continually does stupid shit completely jeopardising his holy mission just so that he can look like the blockhead heroic type of yesteryear in scenes of painful dodginess and worse results. He brings all the raw emotion and depth to this film that he did to that recent cinematic masterwork The Punisher, with him and John Travolta in the lead roles competing to see who could be the most terrible.

This maybe would be worth a drunken autopsy with suitably liquored-up geek friends, but otherwise is of no lingering significance to the universe. And that stupid ending… it’s enough to make you want the claw-handed mutants to win out over our stupid species once and for all.

It ends up looking pretty terrible and playing out even worse. New technology does not always bode well. Worse than taking humans and turning them into cyborg-zombies with crab claws, evil alien green-screen technology is being used to pump out brain-free movies that look cheap and whorish. And that’s worse than anything else I can imagine.

3 times you wonder whether this was greenlit as a joke out of 10

“I’m not paid to think, I’m paid to fuck shit up” – The Mutant Chronicles.