Thursday, August 30, 2012

MIMIC trilogy (1997-2001-2003) movie reviews

Mimic (1997) d. Guillermo del Toro (USA)

Combating a plague-like virus being spread by the common cockroach throughout NYC, genetics engineer Mira Sorvino whips up a new strain of insect, the Judas Breed, which disguises itself as its prey before devouring it. This new species has been engineered to die out after one generation, but (surprise!) things do not go as planned – three years later, a mysterious rash of murders is taking place in the Manhattan subway system, the perpetrators being the mutated offspring of the Judas buggies who have now developed the ability to camouflage themselves as humans.

Much has been made of the Weinstein brothers’ studio interference with del Toro’s original vision (a “director’s cut” has been recently released to Blu-Ray), and while I have not yet seen this version, my biggest issues with this often engaging creature feature has nothing to do with deleted scenes or plotlines, but rather with the ridiculously banal dialogue spoken by the capable cast (Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Charles S. Dutton, Norman Reedus and F. Murray Abraham) and the ill-advised attempts at quirkiness, Alexander Goodwin’s spoon-slapping autistic being the most blatant offender. The Rob Bottin-designed “Long John” bugs – one played by del Toro regular Doug Jones – are memorable, although the darkly-lit scenes rarely show them off to their fullest effect.

Overall, not a bad movie, but also not one I have a lot of nostalgia for. Drive Angry’s Patrick Lussier served as co-editor, with the director and Matthew Robbins adapting Donald A. Wollheim’s short story.

Mimic 2 (2001) d. Jean de Segonzac (USA)

The lone carry-over from the original cast, Alix Koromzay stars as an obnoxiously unlucky-in-love entomologist moonlighting as a public high school teacher who discovers her place of employ is ground zero for the latest infestation of the Judas Breed. For a straight-ahead “B” monster movie with limited funds and ideas, I actually enjoyed this more than I expected to. Not to say that it’s “good,” but still reasonably enjoyable cheese with far fewer pretensions and Oscar winners than its predecessor. Special effects makeup wiz “Gruesome Gary” Tunnicliffe whips up some wicked splattering, scattering and skittering sequences.

Mimic 3: Sentinel (2003) d. J.T. Petty (USA)

The most remarkable thing about this second sequel is how well it conceals its presumably meager budget constraints with a story that focuses more on suspense and what we don’t see than on big bug beasties romping through every scene. Writer/director Petty, who knows a little something about stretching a dollar via solid characterization and atmosphere (Soft for Digging, S&Man, The Burrowers), offers up a variation on Hitchcock’s Rear Window as much of the action is perceived from the window and camera lens of Karl Geary’s shut-in, a victim of his own weakened immunological system. The less-is-more approach may not appeal to those looking for a quick beer n’ pizza creature feature, but it’s hard not to admire Petty’s spin on the material and the big-bam-bloody-boom finale (ignoring, of course, the WTF happy ending coda).

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