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In 1996, Well before he wowed us with the visually splendid and diverse worlds of HELLBOY and PAN'S LABYRINTH, Guillermo del Toro was attempting to break into the bug-eat-bug world of Hollywood with MIMIC, a movie he was making for Dimension Films and Miramax - run by the notoriously interference-prone Weinstein brothers. Initially packing an arty, atmospheric vision for what was more or less a B-movie, del Toro found himself constantly at odds with his producers, a fact that ultimately weakened the final product.
This knowledge isn't necessary when watching MIMIC, but that information - and more - is quite prevalent on the MIMIC: Director's Cut Blu-ray. In fact, del Toro is so frank and upfront about his issues while making the movie on the Blu-ray's supplemental features that it's hard not to consider the behind-the-scenes turmoil while watching the movie. Indeed, there are hints of awesomeness in MIMIC, but just as many roll-your-eyes moments of silliness and predictability.
The set-up is very much the stuff of monster movies: Scientists find themselves matched up against the very monsters they created. In this case, roaches introduced into the New York City sewer system in order to knock out a vicious child-killing disease being spread by common cockroaches. These little buggers, dubbed the Judas Breed, are supposed to die off after a few months, but - as we learned in JURASSIC PARK - life finds a way, and things don't go as planned. Now the Judas bugs are growing up fast and evolving, even going so far as to mimic their prey: man.
MIMIC is initially a very fun, creepy flick. Dark, rainy and filled with icky foreboding, the film builds tension in very simple ways: Characters consistently reach their hands into shadowy places where you know something is lurking; people peer into dark rooms and windows, just asking to be startled by something on the other side, and the dank, ominous subways of NYC are the perfect settings for nightmarish run-ins with the crawly villains. Del Toro makes New York look like one big outdoor haunted house.
But somewhere along the line the movie loses its way and becomes rather routine. The creepiness that pervaded the first half is replaced by dodgy special effects and unexciting action. A few supporting characters feel unnecessary, like a young autistic boy named Chuy who is - for some reason - kidnapped by the giant bugs, and a tough beat cop named Leonard (Charles S, Dutton) who seems included just so he can swear humorously and scoff at the smarty-pants scientists. The third act's set-piece is your standard issue "trapped inside a (fill in the blank)" sequence, in this case an old train car - something we've seen in a hundred other horror movies. Even without knowing the production's backstory, there's no doubt that, the longer MIMIC goes on, the more predictable it becomes.
VIDEO: Widescreen and 1080p HD; MIMIC is gorgeous on Blu-ray. Del Toro's intricate design and Dan Laustsen's gloriously gloomy cinematography really shine.
AUDIO: The 7.1 DTS Surround Sound provides a horror movie fan with an aural feast.
Video prologue: A brief intro by director Guillermo del Toro giving you an idea that the director's cut is his preferred version of the film.
"Reclaiming Mimic": A featurette with del Toro further explaining his original intentions on MIMIC, the compromises he had to make on it, and the reason why this cut is as close as we'll get to his dream version.
Audio commentary with del Toro: As Guillermo is a funny, insightful, brutally honest guy, this commentary is a gem for fans of the director. In fact, the commentary is more intriguing than the movie itself.
"A Leap in Evolution" - A featurette about designing and crafting the creatures of MIMIC.
"Back into the Tunnels" - A featurette about shooting MIMIC from 1997.
Deleted Scenes: Just three scenes, including an alternate ending. (That is basically the same last scene, just set in a different location.)
Storyboard animatics: A few sequences get the storyboard treatment.
Gag reel: The usual flubbed lines and laughs.