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Three years ago, two young scientists teamed up to save New York City from an roach-borne epidemic that was killing thousands of children. Their miracle of genetic engineering was the Judas Breed, an insect whose enzimes proved deadly to the disease-carrying roaches. However, their creation has come back to haunt them, altering the balance of nature and tipping the scales in favor of the insects. The thing created in the lab has changed, and now, out there in the city it has begun to mimic the most dangerous predator of all---humans.
For more about Mimic and the Mimic Blu-ray release, see Mimic Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 23, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Giancarlo Giannini, Charles S. Dutton, Alexander Goodwin
» See full cast & crew
Mimic Blu-ray Review
Hollywood asks Guillermo del Toro to be a copy boy.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 23, 2011
Gothic horror has long postulated the thesis that Man attempting to play God doesn't ever bring good results. From literature to theater to opera to of course film, everyone from Faust to Dr. Frankenstein has discovered that when they meddle in things that no man has a business meddling in (to cop a phrase that must have been uttered by someone in some Gothic horror enterprise at some point), only wreck and ruin can come from it. Usually this situation is mitigated by having the human, whoever it is, who is doing the meddling be tragically flawed. That at least helps the rest of us achieve some virtual distance from the character as we collectively think, "Well, I'd never be that foolhardy." One of the interesting aspects of Mimic, an early Guillermo del Toro film now seeing the Blu-ray light of day, is that the supposedly foolhardy scientist is in fact a well meaning researcher who is attempting to stem the tide of a horrific disease which is proving to have an incredibly high mortality rate among the children of New York City. When entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) discovers that the disease is being spread by the city's ubiquitous cockroaches, she and her scientist husband Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) engineer a new insect species which they lovingly brand The Judas Breed. The Judas Breed secretes an enzyme which the cockroaches are attracted to like "bug-nip", which in turn speeds up their metabolisms, leading to their quick demise. Tyler's efforts quell the disease and she's greeted as a hero by New York's press and politicos. But of course this being a film about a Faustian bargain with elements beyond the control of Man, The Judas Breed ends up living up to its name and betraying its creator. After a rash of gruesome deaths and disappearances, Tyler and Mann slowly become aware that The Judas Breed, which they thought had been relegated to a species jar, has instead morphed into a vicious killer that lurks in the dank subway system below the teeming streets of New York City. Mimic may not be great del Toro, but the fact is even second string del Toro is usually heads and shoulders above most films which scurry about attempting to achieve a symbiotic relationship with an audience. Del Toro's unfailingly brilliant eye for detail and staging helps to lift Mimic above other Alien-esque "critter" flicks, and the film has several outstanding sequences which should leave all but the most stalwart squirming at least a little in their seats.
Mimic is nothing new from either a conceptual angle or indeed how it's realized in its most basic form, but del Toro brings his own fantastic sleights of hand to the evil insect genre (yes, there is such a genre) that few will begrudge the film its more cliché ridden aspects. What is it with del Toro and bugs, anyway? From Cronos through The Devil's Backbone and his international sensation Pan's Labyrinth, creepy crawlies are in evidence, and quite often at least up to no good. There is of course something so inherently alien about insects that they are obviously rife for exploitation of most people's subconscious fears of "the other." And Mimic plays on those fears brilliantly, positing a dark tunnel of unknowingness where the "rational" scientists must confront the metaphoric Id of their career-based Ego.
Del Toro one again exploits his special connection to kids in Mimic, giving the film one of its most effective sequences. Early in the film a young boy (perhaps autistic or with Asperger's Syndrome) clicks spoons together repetitively as outside his apartment window something horrible is happening to a hapless minister who runs a homeless shelter. The audience is of course aware that the boy's spoon clicks are frighteningly similar to the noises emitted by the beast—whatever it is—who seems to be dragging people to their deaths in the bowels below New York City, but the child is of course sanguine about it all. This is a perfectly Hitchcockian setup where the audience's expectation of what may ultimately happen is perhaps more unsettling than what ultimately does happen. Emphasis on may in this case, as del Toro presents the audience with a horrifying payoff to the setup.
It's in sequences like that one that this is truly a del Toro film, but in other ways this is distinctly a Hollywood property, and not in a good way, as del Toro talks about exhaustively in his commentary. The director hadn't yet become the hot property he is today when he made Mimic, and the studio (or "Producer A" or "Producer B," as del Toro jokes) demanded changes be made to satisfy their desires for a more traditional scare-fest. The spirit of del Toro shines through, though. The director has always been about languor and fantasy, and while this is a bit more amped up than the usual del Toro outing, there is the same strange lyrical grace in many sequences that del Toro brought to his more personal films. In a way it's rather ironic in that Mimic is about a hybrid insect run amok, for that's ultimately what Mimic the film became, at least in its initial theatrical release cut, which was wrested from del Toro's control. Though del Toro himself admits the film is still not all he imagined it might have been, it's been at least incrementally improved in this version which helps to return it to that weirdly magical frightening ambience that del Toro has proven himself so eminently capable of evoking.
Mimic Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mimic scurries onto Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. This is a film which is obviously intended to be very, very dark, and so finding fault with this Blu-ray's persistent crush seems gratuitous. This is a film which extracts a lot of its terror from not being to totally see what's going on. Things that make clicking noises in the dark are twice as scary when you can't quite make them out, and del Toro repeatedly utilizes shadows, dim lighting, and obstacles in the frame to keep the viewer guessing what's going on. Putting aside crush issues, though, this transfer is plagued by omnipresent noise courtesy of a fairly grainy transfer that is only emphasized by all the dimly lit scenes. Several of the darkest sequences are overrun by noise which only seems to add yet another pesky bug that Sorvino and Northam need to take care of. On the plus side, the better lit sequences offer really nicely saturated color and very good if not superb fine detail. Close-ups in well lit scenes fare best, as might be expected. Also looking great is del Toro's deliberately filtered color scheme, which casts a lot of the underground footage in bizarre blues and purples.
Mimic Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Mimic boasts one of the most aggressively robust sound designs in recent Blu-ray memory, and it's presented with oomph galore courtesy of a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. What repeatedly struck me during the film is how del Toro and his sound team don't go for the obvious scare tactics like jump cuts with ominous accompanying bursts of LFE. In fact, the bugs themselves make a slobbering clicking sound which is at least as frightening as any bombastic effect might have been. What really sets this sound mix apart, though, is its incredible immersion, especially in the subterranean sequences (which are the bulk of the film), where panning effects posit discrete effects careening through the soundfield, and LFE courtesy of such moments as subway trains roaring by is more than abundant. Dialogue is crisp and clear and the overall mix is very well balanced. But what a great thing to be able to say that a film like this doesn't just go for the literal cheap shots—this is a soundtrack full of nuance and surprising dynamic range, and it sounds incredible on this Blu-ray.
Mimic Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mimic Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If del Toro had made Mimic after Pan's Labyrinth it would have been, well, a different beast entirely. As it stands, it's a curio that attempts to blend del Toro's more poetic, intellectual approach with standard shock 'em fare, and it's a decidedly uneasy mix at times. The film is bolstered by surprisingly good performances from a game cast including Sorvino, Northam and Charles S. Dutton as a transit cop, and there is absolutely no denying the film's very real scares. But this never descends into the near hallucinatory depths that later del Toro would mine in some of his best films, and that's a shame. Still, del Toro has been able to at least partially recreate his original vision here. Despite some image quality issues, this release has a great supply of supplements and absolutely astounding audio, and it comes Recommended.
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Mimic Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mimic: Three-Film Blu-ray Set - February 16, 2012
In May, Lionsgate Home Entertainment will release the Mimic: Three-Film Set on Blu-ray. This bundle collects all three titles in the cult horror franchise, which details the terror unleashed when a group of scientists genetically engineer cockroaches for curative ...
• Mimic: The Director's Cut Blu-ray (Updated) - July 11, 2011
Lionsgate has announced that Guillermo del Toro's 1997 sci-fi horror film Mimic will make its U.S. Blu-ray debut this fall as an all new Director's Cut with 7 minutes of additional footage. The film, which stars Mira Sorvino and Josh Brolin will arrive on September ...
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