Mimic: 3-Film SetOverview -
Directed by Oscar® nominee Guillermo Del Toro (Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Pan's Labyrinth, 2006), this cut transforms 'Mimic' into a film that Del Toro fans and newcomers alike will embrace as the definitive version. The film stars Academy Award® winner* Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite) and Academy Award® nominee* Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) along with Jeremy Northam (Showtime's "The Tudors").
'Mimic 2' - Four years ago, a group of scientists successfully stopped a plague that threatened to overrun the population of New York City. Though all of the "Judas" bugs were thought to be dead, those that survived have undergone another terrible transformation and are once again threatening human life.
'Mimic 3: The Sentinel' - When residents of an apartment complex begin to disappear, the unthinkable happens - the mutant Judas bugs are again stalking their prey. Left nearly helpless, a man enclosed in a plastic bubble, his sister and their best friend have no choice but to exterminate their insect enemies.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
An epidemic threatening the lives of children is spread by the cockroaches beneath the city of Manhattan. Out of desperation, entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) is brought in by CDC employ Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) and genetically engineers another bug. Dubbed the Judas Breed, it soon eradicates the infected pests, incidentally doing away with them altogether. Rather than sell what could possibly be the best insect killer ever devised and make millions, the story jumps ahead three years, with the two now married living in a small one-bedroom apartment and working at making a family. This being a horror movie, their tranquil lives are interrupted when their bug killer unexpectedly resurfaces.
From Guillermo del Toro and inspired by a short story from Donald A. Wollheim, 'Mimic' harkens back to the days of B-quality pictures whose main attraction was science run amok, letting loose an uncontrollable creature upon an unsuspecting public. Lacking the campiness of its forebearers or a sense of ironic self-awareness, the ultimately silly nature of its premise — an overgrown bug that vaguely resembles a man in an overcoat wreaks havoc in the subway system — is presented in all seriousness with hardly any of the scares to make it worthwhile. Yet, it works on minor technical achievements and creativity thanks to del Toro and cinematographer Dan Lausten, managing some levels of entertainment.
Although the CG work of the insects tends to ruin much of the illusion (this was 1997 after all), the film's overall look and photography generates the perfect atmosphere for an amusing potboiler. The image is awash with cold, steely blues and warm amber yellows, which the filmmakers use to excellent effect with dark, penetrating shadows. Things intensify when Peter explores the subway tunnels with police officer Leonard (Charles S. Dutton) and discover Susan already there with the lost Chuy (Alexander Goodwin) and his worried father Manny (Giancarlo Giannini). F. Murray Abraham and a young Josh Brolin also make appearances while the group serves as the last line of defense against a worldwide infestation of mimicking bugs. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)
Mimic 2: Hardshell
Picking up a few years after del Toro's 'Mimic,' this direct-to-video sequel is a surprisingly entertaining movie that doesn't stray far from its predecessor. In fact, it expands on a few of the ideas in the former and moves the dark, claustrophobic setting above ground, where survivors must fend for their lives by knowing their predator. Since only a couple years means thousands of generations for the Judas Breed arthropods, the genetically-altered species has achieved near-humanoid proportions, down to wearing creepily lifelike masks by ripping the faces of their victims. Government spooks, led by Edward Albert, also participate in the fun of exterminating the gigantically ugly cockroaches via fumigation.
Alix Koromzay, who played a minor role as Mira Sorvino's coworker, returns as a science teacher at an inner-city high school where it is soon discovered the bugs have established a new hive. Overlooking the nonsensical convenience of the character's involvement, Koromzay provides a great performance as a single, lonely woman but described as incapable of loving anything with only two legs. After several murdered men are linked to the entomologist, Detective Klaski (Bruno Campos) is prompted to supply the love interest, though how exactly he makes a good match is flagrantly unclear. Still, writer Joel Soisson puts the subplot to excellent use with a shockingly twisted and suspenseful pay off.
Director Jean de Segonzac, who is better known as a cinematographer and for directing several TV crime dramas, makes the most of a limited budget, generating fast-moving thrills with only partial visibility of the monsters. He also allows for a couple laughs to bleed into the narrative at the oddest times, like Koromzay's student, Nicky (Will Estes), taking a moment to apply some deodorant. The same can't be said unfortunately for Gaven E. Lucas, another student trapped in the school while the oversized bug is on the rampage. Jon Polito also makes an appearance in this decent B-movie sequel which doesn't try to outdo del Toro's vision, but agreeably impresses as it tries to live up to it. (Movie Rating: 3/5)
Mimic 3: Sentinel
The 'Mimic' franchise takes the next step in its evolution with a drastically different shift in tone and mood. The second sequel to the series takes inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window,' but it comes nowhere close to offering the level of insight or suspense with regard to our voyeuristic nature when it comes to violence. Then again, in a low-budget DTV horror movie about giant cockroaches which mimic their human prey, it'd be foolish to expect anything near the cinematic genius of Hitchcock's highly-praised classic. Nevertheless, the film, written and directed by J.T. Petty ('S&Man,' 'The Burrowers'), works steadily at generating an atmospheric air of apprehension within the confines of a dark and dingy apartment complex.
Karl Greary stands in for James Stewart's wheelchair-bound busybody in a neighborhood that is far more dreary and miserable. Rather than waiting for a broken leg to heal, Greary's Marvin is stricken with the aftereffects of Strickland's Disease, the epidemic which made the Judas Breed a necessity in the first movie. Confined to his sterilized bedroom, he watches as neighbors slowly begin to disappear, and the silhouette of a man in a trench coat roams the streets. It's pitifully slow start since so much takes place inside Marvin's boring room. Subplots involving his sister's (Alexis Dziena) drug problems and his controlling mother's (Amanda Plummer) love affair with a detective (John Kapelos) are introduced but add nothing to the characters, let alone the movie in general.
After some time, the young man's sister and an attractive neighbor Carmen (Rebecca Mader) decide to assist in Marvin's suspicions by snooping around other people's homes. Unfortunately, neither lady is as spellbinding or capable at producing a sense of danger as the much more talented Grace Kelly. A great deal of the limitations are also due to Petty's disinterested yet competent direction, which shows only a couple moments of inspired filmmaking. The narrative does evolve rather nicely into a somewhat involving showdown with several of the bugs, starting in a mildly tense shootout on the streets and moving up to Marvin's apartment with Lance Henriksen at the center of it all. While 'Mimic 3' deserves credit for attempting a new angle within the series, it ultimately fails at delivering the same entertainment value and enjoyment as its two predecessors. (Movie Rating: 2/5)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings the 'Mimic' franchise to Blu-ray as a two-disc set inside a blue, eco-friendly keepcase. Sitting comfortably on opposing panels, each is a Region A locked, BD50 with only the first movie given a disc all to itself, which is actually identical to the previous release. After a series of skippable trailers, a main menu with music and full-motion clips appears on the screen. The second disc offers the option of choosing between the two movies before displaying the menu and can be switched to the other movie when selecting the play button.
Despite being an improvement to previous home video releases, this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode of 'Mimic' is still pretty ugly. Supposedly, del Toro had something to do with the color timing, tweaking things to place more emphasis on blues and ambers, which actually looks quite attractive and creates a good deal of warmth.
This would lead us to believe the movie might have been remastered in some way, but this transfer definitely doesn't show it with fairly weak colors and poor contrast throughout. The same goes for clarity and definition as the majority of the image is blurry and generally soft, looking only slightly better than an upconverted DVD. There are a few notable scenes exposing some nicely textured facial complexions, but it's not enough to really convince anyone they're watching a high-def presentation. A thin grain structure is clearly present though somewhat inconsistent while several sequences revealing a significant amount of noise. About the only attractive feature to be seen on this 1.85:1 picture frame are the black levels, which are very robust and penetrating, yet minor details within the shadows are completely consumed the darkness, ruining overall visibility. On the plus side, the transfer appears fairly accurate to the filmmaker's visual intentions. (Video Rating: 2.5/5)
Slithering its way unto Blu-ray, 'Mimic 2' slimes the screen with a slightly better AVC-encoded transfer than the first movie. Presented in a 1.85:1 window, fine object and textural details are often nicely defined with plenty of visible pores on the faces of actors. Blacks are generally deep and accurate with only a few shadows overwhelming background info. Sadly, the picture's best aspects are countered by average contrast levels and a color palette that appears overstated, especially in the nighttime scenes. Although the grain structure is somewhat consistent and even, there are instances of mosquito noise in poorly-lit sequences, overall resolution noticeably drops, and there are many moments of softness. (Video Rating: 3/5)
Of the three movies, this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode is significantly the best-looking of the bunch though still far from perfect. Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture displays strong definition of fine objects and lines inside Marvin's sterilized bedroom. Hair and facial complexions, particularly in close-ups, are quite revealing and distinct. Contrast is slightly above average, maintaining great visibility with clean, crisp whites throughout. Black levels are also solid with many deep, rich shadows, which on occasion tend to consume background info, but not as often as the previous two movies. There are a few instances of noise during nighttime sequences, along with some softness. Colors appear accurately rendered although don't offer much to the dark photography and skin tones often look sickly. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is identical to the standalone release of last year, and it's actually terrific with far more activity than initially expected. The rears employ plenty of discrete effects which not only enhance the soundfield but also generate a spine-chilling air with the creepy-crawly sounds of bugs walking about the room. Directionality during action sequences is pretty immersive with convincing pans and movement from the front speakers into the back. Imaging feels wide and spacious although dynamic range leaves much to be desired, especially in the upper-end with the insect creatures' high-pitched calls. Low bass adds some power and weight to certain scenes, but it also feels somewhat artificial and exaggerated, like it was tweaked to seem louder. Dialogue is intelligible and distinct for the most part, except for one or two moments when the decibels suddenly peak, delivering a very strong and enjoyable lossless mix. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
Despite missing two channels in the back, this DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack still manages to keep up with its predecessor rather nicely. Like the first movie, the filmmakers of this sequel employ the surrounds on numerous occasions to not only expand the soundfield but generate an amusing soundscape of creepy-crawlies. In these moments, directionality is excellent with very smooth panning effects and great discrete clarity. The front soundstage exhibits a well-balanced mid-range though not all that extensive, but the low-end comes with a good deal of weight and power. Vocals are intelligible and cleanly delivered in the center of the screen, making it a first-rate presentation for a DTV feature. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
Unlike its predecessors, the third entry in the 'Mimic' franchise doesn't quite pack the wallop and excitement in the audio department but is still good nonetheless. Taking place mostly in the confines of Marvin's bedroom, this is to be expected with well-prioritized vocals delivered in the center of the screen. Imaging isn't always impressive but on occasion, the heavy-breathing and panting with the surrounding silence is used to great effect. Dynamic range is also somewhat limited and feels pretty restrained, especially during the very few action sequences, yet clarity within the soundstage doesn't falter. Noticeably lacking is the same power in the low-end as the first two movies, which is not only terribly feeble but makes gunshots sound like pop-guns. Rear activity is silent for a good chunk of the time, but discrete effects are employed from time to time, enhancing the soundfield decently well and adding a bit of ambience. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
The same bonus features from their DVD counterparts are presented here.
- 5 Days of Mimic 2 (SD, 18 min) — Five sequences that can be watched sequentially, taking viewers behind-the-scenes of the production.
- Behind the Sound of Mimic 2 (SD, 6 min) — Interview with sound mixer Gary Rizzo while working at Skywalker Ranch.
- Deleted Scenes (SD) — Five scenes removed from the final cut.
- Trailers (HD) — A set of previews brings everything to a close.
- Audio Commentary — Writer and director J.T. Petty offers his thoughts on the writing, cast, special effects and the overall making of the movie. His enthusiasm comes through fairly clear with an honest talk about the shoot and production, and only fans will really be tempted to give this a listen.
- Behind the Scenes Featurette (SD, 15 min) — Interviews discussing Petty's involvement and the production as a whole with lots of BTS footage.
- Cast Auditions (SD) — Five videos of cast members auditioning for their respective roles.
- Trailers (HD) — Same set of previews seen on the other two movies rounds out the supplements.
Harkening back to old-school creature-features, Guillermo del Toro's 'Mimic' is a horror movie about well-intentioned science going monstrously wrong, letting loose a new insect species with a taste for human blood. The two sequels which soon followed try to expand the mythos with mildly interesting stories about the bugs infesting other areas of the city. This Blu-ray box set features all three movies with improved video and stronger audio presentations. Supplements are the same as previous releases. Devoted fans of the franchise should be quite happy with this high-def upgrade.
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