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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

MUTANTS -- movie review by porfle

Not a really awful movie, the low-budget sci-fi thriller MUTANTS (2008) is neither ridiculously funny nor jaw-droppingly stupid enough to be entertaining. It's just exceptionally mundane.

The main gist of the story is that an evil sugar manufacturer has found a way to make the stuff even more addictive than it already is--as addictive as, say, heroin--but the secret additive invented by the company's resident evil Russian scientist, Sergei (Armando Leduc in full "Boris Badanov" mode), has an unfortunate side effect. It turns people into slavering, homicidal mutants, and their condition is highly contagious. So naturally, the company's dastardly CEO orders his underlings to kidnap runaway junkies off the streets for Sergei to experiment on until they get the formula just right. Which is fine with Sergei since he loves to create mutants.

One of the people kidnapped is the son of a broken-down security guard named Griff (Louis Herthum) who is still suffering from the death of his wife. His daughter Erin (Sharon Landry) works for the sugar company and begins getting strange emails that clue her in to her boss' evil doings. When she discovers that her brother is being held, she enlists the aid of Griff and a company strong-arm named Sykes (Tony Senzamici), who's sweet on her. Together they break into Mutant Central and get themselves into a whole heap of trouble.

Much of MUTANTS consists of people sitting in rooms and saying a lot of uninteresting dialogue. This is punctuated by a few meager action scenes in which a runaway junkie gets chased down or a mutant pops out and is subdued. Mainly the title creatures are seen only in their cells until the final minutes, when the good guys are shooting their way out of the facility and mutants spring out of the shadows every few seconds and are cut down. The makeup on most of them consists of some boils and not much else.

Direction, cinematography, and other elements are bland. The lead actors, however, are fairly good. Herthum (Griff) and Senzamici (Sykes) are probably the best of the lot--Herthum even had a small role in THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON--and they resemble each other enough to have played father and son in CARNIVOROUS the same year. Sharon Landry is fairly appealing as Erin. The rest of the cast is unremarkable.

The producers do score some points right off the bat by managing to wrangle Michael Ironside (SCANNERS, STARSHIP TROOPERS) and Steven Bauer (SCARFACE, TRAFFIC) to come in and do some scenes so that their names can be featured prominently in the credits. Bauer, sporting a weirdly nerdish makeup job, almost literally phones his performance in since he's seen mostly via a computer screen as he checks in with Michael Ironside's "Colonel Gauge" character. Ironside plays some kind of special ops guy who's onto the big sugar conspiracy, and in the film's finale he actually gets out of his car and participates in a fight scene with one of the bad guys. If you're a fan of Ironside or Bauer and the sight of their names in the credits gets you all excited, you might want to lower your expectations a bit.

I watched a screener so I can't comment on the final release version from North American Motion Pictures. The picture is 16 x 9 full-screen with stereo audio. Special features should include behind-the-scenes, stills gallery, and closed captioning.

I can't recommend MUTANTS, but I wouldn't urge you to flee from it in mortal terror, either. It just doesn't make much of an impression one way or the other.

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