That’s why del Toro has long bad-mouthed his American debut, 1997’s “Mimic,” because the studio wanted — and got — some changes. Now that he’s been allowed to present his original cut, you’d think he’d quit griping. But no. In his video prologue, he’s still fuming, and it makes him look disrespectful of the once-in-a-million chance he was given by Hollywood, a town where you have to earn final cut.
Here’s the thing: I’ve always found “Mimic” to be a pretty decent, if disposable, film. But now, with a few extra minutes, I find “Mimic” to be a pretty decent, if disposable, film that’s a little bit longer.
In “Mimic,” Mira Sorvino (remember her?) battles giant cockroaches in the subway system below New York as Dr. Susan Tyler. Once heralded as a genius for ridding the city of diseased roaches, she finds herself in a heap o’ trouble as the genetically engineered roach she helped create to do away with the others started breeding itself. Hence, big, mean bugs that kill humans.
A couple of kids check into the bugs’ underground lair, but they don’t check out. Neither do a couple of other recognizable cast members whom I won’t name, so it’s not spoiled and all. For the final act, Dr. T and company are trapped in an abandoned train car as the winged bastards swarm around them.
While there’s plenty of atmosphere, “Mimic” is missing a few things that would make it better, like scares. The creature effects are nice and gory, but certainly not scary, as del Toro insists. The changes he has added back are minimal, to my memory, except for the ending. He finds his original vision frightening; I find it silly. The shot is similar in theme to that of Philip Kaufman’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” remake from 1978, but with none of the power.
It sounds like I’m being overly harsh, but in the battle of art vs. commerce, sometimes — not often, but sometimes — the suits know when leaner is meaner. —Rod Lott