Twitter Plot Summary: Giant bugs go on the rampage throughout New York as the scientists responsible for their creation try to stop them.
Mira Sorvino. Remember her? She was in quite a few films in the 90s and was more than capable of holding her own in an action film context, despite being primarily known for that Romy and Michelle film. Here she plays Dr Susan Tyler, a scientist responsible, alongside husband Dr Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) for creating a genetically enhanced insect in order to destroy the cockroaches in New York. A few years later and it turns out that, despite efforts to eradicate their own breed of insect, the bugs have in fact survived and continued to mutate, growing into a fearsome, mutating enemy in the sewers of New York. Sadly (or thankfully depending on your perspective), these are not ninja turtles.
Guillermo del Toro applies his trademark style to the story across several areas. The insects are kept hidden for much of the film and you’d be hard pushed to see a scene taking place during daylight hours. As a result, almost everything is hidden in shadow, even the principle cast. This serves a double purpose in that it hides the fact the CGI isn’t the greatest by modern standards, and to increase the sense of menace and impending threat – because nothing bad ever happens during daylight.
Joining the two doctors in their quest to defeat the genetically modified bugs are Charles S Dutton and Josh Brolin as cops involved in the case, Giancarlo Giannini as a street shoe shiner (and who would later go on to play Mathis in Casino Royale) who is also responsible for a young boy who often replicates the clicking sound the bugs make and subsequently finds himself in trouble, and a special appearance from F Murray Abraham as the former mentor of Tyler and Mann.
When the bugs make their full appearance it’s well worth the wait. cheap the CGI may be by our modern standards, but they are an imposing presence and play into the fear most people have about creepy crawlies. If you think they’re unpleasant in the real world, how does a human sized Mimic sound? The fact they are able to prey on humans, including some literally bone crunching sequences, goes a long way towards playing up to our fears of such things. The film may have been subjected to behind the scenes strife, but despite this and the inconsistencies that result (a tacked on happy ending, certain sequences being directed by other members of the crew) it’s not all that bad. It might lack the same level of quality and imagination that del Toro gets to show off in productions where he has full creative control – in other words just about everything else he’s ever made – but Mimic is an example of a director defining his style despite producer interventions and you can only imagine what it would have been like had he been given carte blanche to do his own thing. And we never did solve the mystery of Mira Sorvino, did we? Perhaps that’s best saved for another time.