Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Charles S. Dutton
Review by Brian M. Sammons
I love me some Guillermo del Toro movies. Not all of them reach the same level of greatness; for example, I thought the sequel to Hellboy wasn’t as good as the original, but they all have little gems of brilliance in them, and that includes the del Toro flick that has easily been my least favorite: Mimic.
While it wasn’t a bad movie, it just didn’t feel like a del Toro movie. At first I chalked that up to no one being perfect and everyone can swing and miss at times. Then sometime later I learned that, for the most part, this film was taken out of del Toro’s hands and suffered not only rewrite after rewrite, but recut after recut, many without any input from the director at all, and a ton of second unit material, shot by a revolving door of guest directors (including Robert Rodriguez), that was forced on del Toro by the Hollywood moneymen. Yeah, because as we all know only good things ever happen when producers get it into their heads that they know best. Anyway, the end result was a very uneven movie that Guillermo all but disowned.
Then I heard that Lionsgate was not only going to release this flawed film for the first time on Blu-ray, but they were letting del Toro present it as a director’s cut, as close to his original vision as he could make it with the material he had at hand. So would Guillermo save the day and make an OK movie better, or would he turn out to be one of those “artists” who blame their mess-ups on others instead of owning them and prove that by making a director’s cut as bad, if not worse, than the original?
Let’s find out.
The heart of Mimic remains the same. In the near future a deadly plague is killing the children of New York City in droves and because it’s spread by cockroaches, and it is NYC, after all, there is no way to stop it. Enter a brilliant, beautiful entomologist named Susan Tyler, played by Mira Sorvino, who genetically splices a bunch of bug DNA together to make a bug killing bug that mimics its prey while it’s Murdering them. Five years later and … yeah can you guess where this is going?
Dr. Tyler must return to stop her monster (a la Dr. Frankenstein), or in this case, monsters. Lots and lots of monsters as the bad bugs have been busy breeding … and evolving. Now the bugs are as big as men, and arguably nearly as smart. They are still murderous mimics, only now they have evolved to blend in with their new prey: man. A motley crew is assembled to look into matters, but they go into the investigation under prepared and not expecting to find the horrors they will eventually face. This ensemble cast is one of the best things about this movie. All the actors turn in solid performances and keep an eye out for small, but memorable roles played by Charles S. Dutton, Josh Brolin, and F. Murray Abraham. Also, as a del Toro film, it looks just amazing, even when the majority of the action takes place in the dark, dank sewers and subway tunnels underneath New York.
I am reluctant to say too much more about this film. I mean, it is about 14 years old now, so chances are you’ve seen it, but just in case you haven’t, I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises. So here’s the Cliffs Notes version: people go into the tunnels to look for bugs, end up finding huge killer bugs they never expected, get trapped down below, and have to find a way to survive and escape some very unique creatures. Essentially a B-grade monster movie, it is well-acted, looks amazing and is a fun monster romp that has a few effective twists and turns along the way. There. Short, sweet, and spoiler free.
The new Blu-ray of Mimic from Lionsgate not only looks good but is chock full of extras including a video introduction by Guillermo where he basically says this version of the movie was the best he could do with what he had … ouch. To further illustrate this point, there’s a very revealing featurette called “Reclaiming Mimic” and a director’s commentary track that both go into great and surprisingly honest detail on how the original theatrical cut of this movie was taken out of his hands and how he wasn’t all that happy with it. These two extras are the highlight of the show here, you just don’t get this kind of honest insider view in both the creative process and the movie making business about big budget films and I really enjoyed both the both the commentary and the featurette. In addition to those extras, there are specials highlighting the creation of the creatures and a general behind the scenes kind of documentary. Deleted scenes, storyboard animatics, trailers and a gag real round out the extras, complete with the now compulsory digital copy of the movie for your portable movie needs.
Whereas the original cut of Mimic was an ok big bug movie, this version flirts with being a downright good film in its own right. I think it is much improved, if just a little sad with the glimpses at what could have been. It looks impeccable in HD, the disc has a nice selection of interesting extras, a director’s commentary that’s one of the best ones I’ve ever heard, and is more enjoyable now than ever before. So consider this one a hearty recommendation for fright film fans everywhere.