Welcome to Double Feature, a weekly column where Scott Pierce pairs a recent release that is the butter to an older flick’s popcorn. Beware of spoilers.
Director is at the top of his game when the epically large Kaiju invade cities across the world in Pacific Rim. Seven years after an initial attack in San Francisco, humanity is on the brink of extinction. It cements his status as creature feature master. Sure, it may come across as Mega Python vs. Giant Octopus for a crowd far removed from the atomic fears that made the original Godzilla work so well, but he pulls it off because of his fanboy heart. It's something he's done again and again, which is why I decided to look at one of his older monster movie's for this week's Double Feature.
Del Toro has always been known for entertaining his monstrous sensibilities in great, thinking films like Pan's Labyrinth to the surprisingly clever Hellboy. But one often overlooked film shows his talents, even if he didn't personally like the the final cut: Mimic. If Pacific Rim arguably tackles our current knowledge and fear of rapid climate change, Del Toro's Mimic, the first after his highly successful Chronos, tackles the fear giving birth and losing control over what we've created.
After a horrible virus, known as Strickler's Disease, kills hundreds upon hundreds of children in New York City, Dr. Susan Tyler (the always wonderful ), a very crafty Entomologist somehow genetically engineers cockroaches to kill the disease in the wild. They're only meant to live for a short period. Technically, they aren't even able to reproduce. However, anyone who's seen Jurassic Park knows that nature finds a way. In this case, nature creates giant, human-sized cockroaches that like to eat people. Pacific Rim may have the terrifyingly large Kaiju, but the slasher elements that these bad bugs provide in the subway are what carefree nightmares are made of. It's not really that scary, but it never gets old seeing Sorvino run away from a human-like bug only to be carried away into the darkness.
Whereas a lot of the action in Pacific Rim takes place in huge cityscapes with giant robots, Mimic feels much smaller and personal in scale. It may not touch upon the larger ideas of the movie (Sorvino is trying to get pregnant in a world where a lot of children have died. Her real children are the insects, etc), but it provides enough personal drama shrouded in shadows for you to care when creepy ass cockroaches attack.
There's definitely cheesy lines that plague most of Dimension's slate of movie's from the late 1990s, but it's a solid effort from Del Toro, probably the only director working today that truly is able to create the sense of wonderment from a bygone era. Even if this movie is slight compared to his other efforts, it's a perfect film to watch back-to-back with his latest. If you're a fan of films like Aliens or Tremors, you should definitely give this a shot. Sure, the theatrical release was a little heavy on the jump scares, but you can get the director's cut here.
Watch the trailers for Mimic and Pacific Rim here:
Be sure to check out previous installments of Double Feature: