First things first - those of you who already own the recent director's cut Blu-ray release of Mimic? The first disc in this two disc set which compiles the three films in the series is identical to that release outside of the cover art. That's going to sting a little bit given that a lot of fans of the series probably jumped on that disc as soon as it came out and before this three film collection was released - the plus side being if you're one of the many who don't care about the two sequels, well, you have no need to double dip. If, however, you want to own all three films? This is the way to go...
Mimic (Director's Cut):
When the first film, directed by Guillermo del Toro in 1997, starts a nasty plague being spread by cockroaches is affecting the lives of infants in and around the island of Manhattan. Enter New York University entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) who, along with her husband, fellow scientist Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam), genetically engineers a new bug they dub the Judas Breed which they unleash into the tunnels under the city to eliminate the cockroach problem. The females of the species are designed to die out quickly and the males are designed to be infertile so once the roach problem is solved and our scientists are lauded as heroes, everything should be well, right? Of course, not - you just know something is going to go wrong, and go wrong it does when it turns out that a fertile male has been living and repopulating in the old abandoned subway tunnels that spiderweb around the city's underbelly.
When people start disappearing and bug related evidence starts showing up at the crime scene, a few cops lead by a detective named Josh (Josh Brolin) start to investigate but Susan and Peter make their own plans to head into the tunnels and find out what's happening. With the help of a shoeshine man named Manny (Giancarlo Giannini), his 'special' son Chuy (Alexander Goodwin) and a grouchy MTA cop named Leonard (Charles S. Dutton) they travel below ground in hopes of saving the day but soon find that their Judas Breed have evolved into something far more horrifying than the overgrown cockroaches they started out as.
Basically Alien in the subways instead of in space though distorted through del Toro's uniquely fantastic vision, Mimic isn't the most original film to ever hit the silver screen but it is icky and creepy enough to give horror fans a good time. Presented here reassembled by del Toro in what is as close to his original director's cut as it's ever going to get, the movie features some interesting touches that compliment some of his later films quite well. As those who are familiar with his filmography will quickly note, his movie's often focus around a child in a dangerous situation and we have that here in the form of Chuy, a young boy who is referred to by his father as 'special' when by Susan why he doesn't go to school. Chuy doesn't talk much, instead he repeats patterns he hears by using two spoons - be they the different patterns the certain shoes worn by his father's customers make on the tiles of the subway station where his shine station is set up or the clicks of a giant killer insect hiding in the sewers outside of the apartment they share. Likely meant to be an autistic character (though never specifically referred to as such) he makes for an interesting and, yes, definitely sympathetic character and adding him to the otherwise fairly straight forward take on the Frankenstein concept gives the film a bit more emotional pull than it would have otherwise.
The movie also does a good job by playing the action deep down in the abandoned portions of New York City's mammoth subway lines. Though anyone who has ever spent a lot of time in certain stations will note that the film isn't quite 'dirty enough' in this regard, they do a good job of playing up the mysteriousness of the dark tunnels through which millions of people travel each day without ever slowing down to notice what's around them. The performances are strong across the board, with Sorvino doing a very fine job in the lead and Josh Brolin making for a likeable smart-ass cop. Charles S. Dutton steals the show as the MTA cop who just wants to go home, while Giancarlo Giannini and Alexander Goodwin are both believable and sympathetic in their respective roles. Mimic may not be the best thing that del Toro has done but it holds up well as a good old fashioned monster movie romp that's smarter than you might expect and made with a fair amount of style too.
Five years after the first film hit theaters this straight to video sequel directed by Jean de Segonzac landed on video store shelves around the world to fairly consistent critical panning and audience indifference. In hindsight, as nothing more than disposable entertainment the movie could be a lot worse - it does offer up a few decent effects, some okay kill scenes and a few interesting ideas, but when inevitably compared to the far superior first movie, it doesn't really shape up so well.
The story follows Remi (Alix Koromzay returning from her small supporting role in the first movie) who works hard as a school teacher and who has trouble holding on to a decent man, despite having a solid friendship with Nicky (Will Estes). After teaching her class about bugs, she starts to develop a bond with a student named Sal (Gaven Lucas) who seems unusually keen on staying after school for any reason he can find. Soon enough, the Judas Breed insects not at all completely exterminated after the first movie start poking their beady little bug eyes out of the city's sewers once again and inexplicably start knocking off most of the men she dates. As the bodies start to pile up, a cop named Detective Klaski (Bruno Campos) starts to wonder what the connect to Remi is, while Remi gets pulled into things even further when the insects invade the school she works at.
Taking the bugs out of the sewers and into a school is an interesting idea but there's not much character development or emotion to this one. While we once again have a sympathetic child character in the form of Sal, he's not as interesting or as involving as Chuy is in the first film, and while Koromzay isn't a bad lead, she doesn't provide a performance as strong as the one given by Sorvino in the first film. The movie gets points for trying an interesting twist towards the finale, and it at least partially pulls it off, but most of this sequel feels like old hat. A few of the kill scenes are good and the effects crew have done some good work with the 'evolution' of the Judas Breed creatures but don't expect the originality, the atmosphere or the style that del Toro's initial dealings with the concept brought to the table.
The third and so far final film in the series was 2003's Mimic: Sentinal, directed by J.T. Petty, the man behind Soft For Digging and the more recent S&Man. Once again, those pesky Judas Breed bug creatures are back and hungry for blood - and this time they're out of the sewers, out of the schools even, and taking over an apartment complex.
The film takes place in a low income neighborhood in New York that has certainly seen better days. Here an asthmatic amateur photographer named Marvin Montrose (Karl Geary) lives his life inside his room where his asthma and allergies can be controlled. Marvin's no saint though, and in true Hitchcockian fashion he spies on his unwitting neighbors in the next building over using his telephoto lens to capture all their dirty secrets. Things pick up for Marvin when a young boy suddenly vanishes from the building - he's unsure what the deal is here but when a second victim goes missing shortly after, a drug dealer named Desmond (Keith Robinson), Marvin figures that the strange garbage man (Lance Henriksen) has to be behind it all. He convinces his sister Rosy (Alexis Dziena) and her friend Carmen (Rebecca Mader) to head to the building next door and see what they can find. Marvin soon realizes that he's sent them on the wrong track when he sees NYPC detective Gary Dumars (John Kapelos) taken out on the street by two Judas Breed creatures.
For what is essentially a remake of Rear Window with giant killer cockroaches made on a modest budget with Romania filling in for New York City, Mimic: Sentinel works far better than it has any right to. Again, we're treated to some decent monster effects, but the whole peeping tom premise fits in alongside the bug critters rather well thanks to some clever writing and more than competent direction. The performances aren't bad, Henriksen stands out amongst the pack and plays the creepy garbage man well, and the end result is a fun follow up with a few decent twists and turns along the way. The film is periodically hampered by a low budget and as such, some cracks show now and again, but overall this is fun. Not a classic, not a masterpiece, but a fun giant killer bug movie that offers up a few good scares, some interesting characters and a unique twist on a fairly played out movie formula.
Mimic looks very good in AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition on Blu-ray. Given that so much of the movie either takes place indoors at night or underground at night it's understandable that the image is as dark as it is but the transfer handles things really well for the most part. Yes, there is a fair bit of crush and shadow detail isn't always perfect but compared to the standard definition DVD presentation there's certainly a lot more detail here and color reproduction is considerably more natural looking. A healthy amount of grain is present, which adds to the texture of the movie, and there isn't any evidence of any nasty noise reduction or heavy filtering of the image but things can definitely look a little noisier than some might want at times. Overall though, fans should be quite pleased with the way that the movie looks in high definition - the transfer offers nice detail throughout and some really great moments, particularly when del Toro opts to let some light into the frame and play around with some interesting colors to nice effect.
The two sequels also look quite good on Blu-ray, and while they share the second disc, there aren't any problems with anything more than the most minor compression artifacts. Again, both transfers are AVC encoded and 1080p high definition, and offer fairly solid detail throughout. Neither film is quite as dark as its predecessor so sometimes the images in the two sequels will look a bit more bright and colorful than in the first film. Overall detail is fine, texture quite good, skin tones look natural and there are no obvious edge enhancement problems of note. The movies don't get reference quality transfers and can't offer the same amount of fine detail as the latest and greatest big budget Hollywood blockbuster but you'll certainly be well aware as you watch the movies that they're quite a step up from previous DVD releases.
The first film hits Blu-ray with a blisteringly good English language DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix that will definitely give your surround sound system a pretty serious workout. There was obviously a lot of attention and care put into creating the sound mix for this movie, and while we get a few jump scares here and there what's more impressive is the way which the bug noises has been handled. They come at you from a few different angles throughout the movie, clicking and clattering their way through the tunnels, complimented by the similar sounds made by Chuy and his spoons. Sound effects are strong and powerful, dialogue is crisp, clean and natural sounding and the score sounds excellent and makes full use of the entire soundstage to heighten tension and atmosphere. Subtitles are provided in English and Spanish with closed captioning also provided in English.
The two sequels also sound very good on Blu-ray courtesy of some nicely layered English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks. They're not quite as impressive as the first movie but they still offer up decent rear channel and surround activity, a strong low end, and natural sounding dialogue. Again, subtitles are provided in English and Spanish with closed captioning also provided in English.
Extras on disc one kick off with a quick two minute HD video introduction from del Toro who discusses how this cut of the film is the closest version available to his preferred cut of the movie. From there, delve deeper into his thoughts on the movie and what happened to it by checking out his audio commentary. Del Toro is always great on his commentary tracks and this one is no exception. He's quite thorough here in his talk about the genesis of the project, what happened to the film, how he reconstructed as much of the film to his liking as possible and much more. He talks about the effects works, the themes and ideas that run throughout the movie, casting, locations and sets and much more and he does it all in a very laid back and easy to listen to manner that makes this a fairly essential supplement.
From there we move on to a few featurettes, the first of which is the fourteen minute high definition documentary Reclaiming Mimic which again allows del Toro to talk about how he reconstructed the feature to get as close to his original vision of the film as possible. He also talks about how two producers insisted that he turn the film into a fairly standard monster movie, which resulted in the theatrical cut - a fairly different movie compared to this director's cut version. A Leap In Evolution is a ten minute featurette that shows us what went into creating the bug creatures that we see in the movie, large and small - it's quite interesting and shows how much work went into the pre-production side of the creature creation aspect of the film. Back Into The Tunnels spends five and a half minutes with the cast, crew and director discussing the making of the film complete with some behind the scenes bits, while the two minute Gag Reel and six minute Storyboard Animatics sections contain, as you'd guess, some blooper footage and some storyboard examples. A trio of Deleted Scenes running a combined five minutes and including some discussions between Sorvino and Northam and an alternate ending are also included. The first disc includes some nice animated menus as well as trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties but no trailer for the feature itself. All of the extras on the first disc are in standard definition except where noted.
Extras for the second film include everything that was on the initially DVD release including two featurettes, the first of which is 5 Days Of Mimic 2 that clocks in at about twenty minutes. This segment takes us behind the scenes of the feature, showing off the sets and doing a pretty interesting job of letting us peek at the effects and prosthetic work conjured up by the crew for the movie. The featurette is broken up into five parts, hence the title, and it's actually worth seeing as it's more than just a fluff piece, it actually has some substance to it. The second featurette is Behind The Sound Of Mimic 2, which delves into a bit of detail on the importance of sound design to the feature and shows us the engineers accomplished their tasks. Also included are six Deleted Scenes running a total of approximately five minutes. A few of these are worthless, a few of these are not and would have actually made for a better movie had they been left in.
The extras for Mimic 3: Sentinel also carry over everything that was on the previous DVD release and start off with an audio commentary from writer/director J.T. Petty. It's a fairly frank and honest talk that covers a lot of ground, including but not limited to producer interference (a recurring theme throughout this series!), effects work, casting, the script and certain aspects of it that had to be changed and the difficulties involved with working with Romanian cast and crew members. There's also a Behind The Scenes Featurette included here that again allows Petty to speak his mind and which also includes some decent on set footage. Rounding out the extra for the third film are a collection of five Cast Auditions clips for the principal performers. The second disc includes some basic static menus as well as the same trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties that are on the first disc, but once again no trailer for either one of the features. All of the extras on the second disc are in standard definition.
If you've already got the director's cut special edition release of the first film, than this is going to sting a bit and you'll have to gauge how much you want the sequels on Blu-ray. With that said, if you don't already own that disc, this set is a good one offering up the first film in great quality and in as close to its original cut as possible with a lot of interesting extras too. The sequels also get a nice high def upgrade with improved audio and video and carry over all of the extras from the DVD releases too. Monster movie fans can consider Lionsgate's Mimic 3 Film Set recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.