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Film / Mutant Chronicles

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Mutant Chronicles is a 2008 film inspired by the game of the same name starring Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Sean Pertwee, and Devon Aoki. In the distant future, Earth and its off-world colonies are ruled by four major corporations that wage perpetual war over resources and markets. In the midst of a pitched battle between the forces of Capitol and Bauhaus Corporations in Central Europe, an ancient evil from the long-forgotten past (still in our far future) re-emerges, slaughtering both sides and replenishing its own ranks from their casualties.

As the mutant threat spreads, the corporations agree to set aside their differences for the sake of the survival of humanity, but are barely able to slow the advancing juggernaut. Enter The Brotherhood an ancient and reclusive Catholic monastic order that fought the mutants before, and have preserved the knowledge necessary to defeat them again. A small team is formed of the best soldiers from each corporation's army, led by a monk and a nun from the Brotherhood. If they can find the mutants’ headquarters in the ruins of a buried city, they can destroy the machine that creates and controls them.

This film exhibits the following tropes

  • Action Girl: Mishima soldier Valerie Duvall (Devon Aoki, no surprise) and Brotherhood nun Severian.
  • Adapted Out: Cybertronic and Whitestar Corporations are absent. Justified as the former it would have been out of place from the Dieselpunk setting of the movie and the latter because it didn't existed in the game by that time the said movie was released.
    • The Tribes of Dark Eden (factions composed of the descendants of those who were left behind when the Megacorporations left Earth) are similarly adapted out, as the film is set on Earth.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: There are a couple:
    • Movie!Valerie Duval is a young mother of two children and a soldier of Mishima. Game!Valerie Duval is an assassin for the Bauhaus Megacorporation, and is in fact unable to bear children — which is the major reason why she is a member of the Etoiles Mortant organisation.
    • Movie!Maximilian von Steiner is an an officer of Bauhaus and an aristocrat, whereas Game!Max Steiner is very much the Black Sheep of his noble family, who was given the choice of joining the Bauhaus army or being disowned.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Mitch Hunter, Max Steiner and Valerie Duval have been renamed John Mitchell Hunter (although he is still referred to as 'Mitch'), Maximilian von Steiner and Valerie ChinoisNote  Duval in the movie.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
    • Movie!Mitch Hunter is depicted as a Knight in Sour Armor with "an extremely nasty case of 'I don't give a fuck.'" Game!Mitch Hunter, however, is practically the Capitol Megacorporation's answer to Captain America.
    • Movie!Maximilian von Steiner is depicted as a selfish, callous but otherwise honourable Officer and a Gentleman who doesn't work well with the rest of the team. Game!Max Steiner is a Boisterous Bruiser who is gregarious, exuberant and, by Bauhaus standards, completely scandalous.
    • Movie!Valerie Duval makes it a point to try and get to know her teammates better as she believes that dying together is an intimate thing. Game!Valerie Duval is a Consummate Professional who cares for nothing and no one except for her career and the Bauhaus Megacorporation.
  • Advertised Extra: Despite appearing together with the other characters on the DVD and Blu-Ray cover, John Malkovich as Constantine appears in just three scenes and gets Killed Offscreen by the mutants. However, he's the one who gives the tickets to Brother Samuel.
  • And I Must Scream: Mutant soldiers are essentially trapped in their own bodies, powerless to do anything but whisper. After Mitch escapes from the machine mid-conversion, Duvall threatens him with a sword. He convinces her that he's still himself by snarling, "Get that fuckin' pigsticker outta my face!"
  • Anti-Hero: Major Mitch Hunter of Capitol. He’s a loner who doesn’t get along well with others (except Nathan Rooker), but he has a moral compass.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The characters themselves note that it's been weeks since the Mutants started dragging people to the Machine, yet somehow Nathan Rooker is still alive even though he was captured 6 weeks prior and couldn't have been fed anything during this time.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The machine is said to have landed on Earth 10,000 years ago, yet the ancient order dedicated to battling it somehow has Catholic trappings even though the Abrahamic religions didn't even exist yet in the 7,300s BCE. Even if we assume that Christianity is inspired by the landing of the Machine in this universe, the Brotherhood's denomination of Christianity should be completely unrecognizable to any modern Christian church since they predated the formation of both the Nicene and the Catholic Church.
  • Asshole Victim: Mitch kills one of the Imperial soldiers guarding a ship while they're shaking down civilians desperate to get off the planet.
  • Badass Boast: "We don’t get paid to believe. We get paid to fuck shit up!"
  • BFG: El Jesus uses a "phosphorous rifle" that can blow holes in tanks and one shot mutants instead of the more conventional (but also extremely heavy) semi-automatic rifles used by most soldiers. The rifle is noted to be extremely unstable, and Jesus ends up killing a good chunk of the party when it finally goes off.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The first member of the party to die is Captain John McGuire.
  • Body Horror: Mutant soldiers are converted from living humans. They still possess a limited awareness of who they are, but are unable to control their own actions.
  • Canon Foreigner: Every single character in the movie with the exception of Mitch Hunter, Maximilian von Steiner and Valerie Duval are all original characters created for the movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The bundle of dog tags from fallen Capitol soldiers, which Hunter later uses as an improvised knuckleduster.
  • Christianity is Catholic: The Brotherhood is a Catholic monastic order. How they are Catholic when their order predates the religion by almost 8,000 years is never explained. Maybe they all converted.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Everyone is quite fond of the word "fuck," with some scenes having hardly a single line spoken without it.
  • Contrived Coincidence: As it turns out, the key to activate the machine's launch sequence is one of the swords that the crew brings with them. Said sword is held by Severian, who dies falling to the chasm, but she manages to throw it back to the platform next to Hunter in her dying grasp, which also conveniently land on top of the Chronicle page that says it's the key. Keep in mind that Severian is illiterate and most definitely doesn't know that the sword is the key, so how convenient it is that her dying thought is to throw this random sword back to Hunter and it turns out to be just the thing they need to completely defeat the villain.
  • Crapsack World: The Corporations have fought each other constantly for centuries and only stop when a greater foe threatens to wipe them all out. Most of Earth is either war zones or overbuilt industrial districts. The opening scene shows combat between the forces of Bauhaus and Capitol, with trench warfare and massed infantry assaults being the order of the day. It’s World War I on steroids.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Steiner's fate is very much sealed the moment a white phosphorous explosion disfigures his face.
  • Diesel Punk: The technology we see throughout the film, both human and alien, runs on this visual style. Case in point, the dropships are coal-powered flying steamers (complete with stokers shoveling coal into the boiler), and the alien machine that creates the mutants looks, appropriately enough, like a mechanized slaughterhouse.
  • Dwindling Party: The team starts taking casualties before they even reach the buried city, and continue dropping like flies.
  • Dying as Yourself: Mutants seem to revert back to their original personalities just as they're about to expire. The captive mutant the crew uses as a training dummy asks for help and God once they mortally wound him, and Legion reverts back to Samuel and tells Hunter to save himself.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Despite knowing that he's screwed beyond reproach inside a falling elevator car, Wu spends his last moment spectacularly defeating a Mutant in melee combat and priming a grenade to kill anything next to his body once the car reaches its destination.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Mitch Hunter is the only member of the team left at the end.
  • Fantastic Racism: Very minor, but present. Bauhaus soldiers are referred to as "Cogs"Note  as a derogative, and the mutants themselves are referred to once as "Mutes."
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Corporations, in culture, geographic origin, and the parts of the world they control.
    • Capitol: America with a pinch of post-imperial Britain
    • Imperial: The Victorian/Edwardian British Empire (though interestingly Great Britain is not a part of Imperial's territory, rather it belongs to Capitol)
    • Bauhaus: Imperial Germany
    • Mishima: Japan with a bit of China mixed in.
  • Foreshadowing: Steiner warns El Jesus before the mission not to be anywhere near him when his grenade launcher inevitably explodes from overuse. Guess what happens later in the movie.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The movie mentions the Machine was sent by aliens but we never see or learn much of anything about them. A mutated Samuel mentions "Legion", implying the Machine was sent by the Dark Legion from the game.
  • Guns Akimbo: Steiner's weapons of choice are a pair of Uzi-like machine pistols. Justified as he explains in one scene that it would take a lot of automatic small-arms fire just to kill one mutant.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Valerie Duvall gets sliced half by the giant fan under the Machine. Also, Severin cuts in half a mutant with her sword.
  • Here We Go Again!: The final sequence shows the Machine heading for Mars.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Several, including some by minor characters like the crew of the Imperial transport ship. Brother Samuel invokes this in the narration as he describes each of the team members and their response to the offer of a ticket off of Earth in exchange for their services.
    • Corporal Jesús Barrera of Capitol asked that his mother and sisters be evacuated. And asked Brother Samuel to promise him that his sacrifice would ensure they go to Heaven.
    • Captain John Patrick McGuire of Imperial refuses his ticket, declaring it his duty to protect those who can’t protect themselves. Samuel notes that McGuire is "the kind of man we should be saving."
    • Major Mitchell doesn’t tell anyone what he did with his ticket, but it’s later revealed that he gave it to Captain Rooker’s daughters.
    • Maximilian von Steiner also doesn't tell anyone what he did with his ticket, although it is later revealed that he kept it but went on the dangerous suicide mission anyway. Later, he sacrifices himself to prevent the mutants from following Hunter, Samuel, Duval and Severian while they enter the machine.
  • Important Haircut: Severin cuts her hair before travelling with the fellowship to stop the Machine.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Invoked by Corporal Valerie Duvall of Mishima, who thinks that dying together is the ultimate intimacy. Corporal Barrera of Capitol snarks, "You make it sound like we're gonna fuck."
    Valerie Duval: You can fuck any time you want. You can only die once.
    Jesus Barrera: (nodding as if to say she has a point) That's fucked up.
  • Irony: As noted by Samuel, the prophesized savior of mankind turns out to be an atheist in the end.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Mitch Hunter is a cynical asshole who nevertheless cares about people and will willingly sacrifice himself. As Rooker explains to El Jesus, he simply woke up one morning with "an extremely nasty case of 'I don't give a fuck.'"
    Mitch Hunter: A fuck about what? Every yard we take; every Cog we kill...some fat fuck's stock goes up two points.
    Nathan Rooker: Yeah, but it's not about the money, is it?
    Mitch Hunter: Then it gets to the point where they give cash bonuses to officers based on body count.
    Nathan Rooker: Sometimes I don't think you believe in the righteous cause of our mighty corporation, Sergeant.
    Mitch Hunter: They don't pay me to believe, sir.
    Nathan Rooker: You're absolutely right: they pay you to fuck shit up.
  • Last Words: Invoked and defied when the main characters are cornered by mutants.
    Maximilian von Steiner: Any last words?
    Mitch Hunter: Shut the fuck up!
  • Made of Iron: Mutants aren’t quite Immune to Bullets, but they do soak up an awful lot of them before going down, and possess Super-Strength. Von Steiner explains that the mutant captured by Bauhaus troops had to be pinned under a tank.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • After being mortally wounded in the crash, Captain McGuire asks Mitch Hunter for "the borrow of a grenade" to go out on his own terms without slowing the team down. Mitch obliges.
    • Mitch does this to an agonizing Nathan, who is already half-converted would rather die than become a mutant.
    • Mitch delivers one to a now-fully-converted Brother Samuel at the end.
  • The Millstone: El Jesus. That guy holds his own, but he nearly ends the entire mission when his unstable phosphorous gun explodes and stuns the whole team in the middle of a close fight against the mutants, leading to a near Total Party Kill. It should be noted that the unreliability of this type of gun is known, as proven by Steiner telling him not to stand near him while using that gun, yet he brings it into the mission anyway and nearly dooming everyone.
  • Money Is Not Power: Or rather, "connections have no power". After crash-landing, the team encounter a couple of Imperial soldiers who are extorting money or sex from people desperate to board an off-world transport. On top of that, if someone gets outbid, they keep the money already paid by the person being kicked off. When a man doesn’t have enough money to buy seats for all of his family, they laugh and suggest he abandon his youngest daughter. The man growls out a "do you know who I am?" to the soldiers, and the leader just puts a bullet between the man's eyes, replying "THAT'S who I think you are!" before spitting on the corpse. Disgusted, Hunter shoots the senior Imperial grunt dead, then orders the other one (at gunpoint) to offload any luggage to free up space and weight for everyone.
  • Never Learned to Read: Severian, who devoutly believes in the Brotherhood's creed without being able to read any of its writings. Hunter calls her out on this blind faith.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: When Steiner falls into a lower level with a horde of mutants, the rest of the crew jumps in after him despite Samuel's protest to fight off the mutants together. They are rather successful at it too, but then Jesus' phosphorous gun explodes and allows the mutants to overrun them.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The Machine is still working perfectly after being buried in the dirt for 10,000 years, even blasting off into space in the end.
  • Rule of Cool: Probably the only reason why everyone has gone back to using World War 1 tactics, right down to using bulky semi-automatic rifles again instead of the much more cost-effective assault rifles.
  • Schizo Tech: Humanity has an interplanetary civilization but has regressed so far that the soldiers are forced to fight with scaled up World War I level equipment, even using what appear to be steam powered tanks. Even their spaceships seem to run on coal.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Hunter and Rooker.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Why exactly Steiner has to suicide bomb the mutants even though he's using a grenade and could just throw it at them is never explained. As a result of this stupid sacrifice, Hunter is forced to support the rope lowering two other members down the machine on his own, which pulls him close to the pit and makes him fall directly onto the conversion belt by the shockwave once Steiner detonates.
  • Worthy Opponent: Captain McGuire and Corporal Wu both express such sentiments towards the other team members, with McGuire especially saying that deeply respects his former enemies and is honored to fight alongside them.
  • You Monster!: Steiner wrongfully accuses Hunter and the Capitol soldiers of being these when the mutants are unleashed, having witnessed the savagery and sheer carnage left behind in their wake.
    Maximilian von Steiner: (holding Hunter at gunpoint) Murderer! [...] Has war driven you mad?!