So I recently viewed both The Mutant Chronicles and Eden Log in fairly rapid succession. Actually, I saw a preview for Eden Log and Mutant Chronicles on the same DVD and decided to procure both as they seemed interesting. In addition to being filmed in essentially the same style (cyberpunk), they are both post-apocalyptic tales involving mutated human beings of some sort trying to bring down us normal humans. I decided I would try to take a stab at seeing how they stacked up against one another and see which I actually preferred. What better way to do that then in a public forum like my blog? Here are the trailers for the respective movies:
I watched them on back to back days and within a week of watching The Mist in black and white, thus fulfilling my quota for b&w movies for the year. As I said before, they are both about the end of man and the mutated enemies encountered there, but they attack the subject from two very different angles. The Mutant Chronicles chooses the epic, action packed side of the apocalypse, showing large scale warfare and huge, steam-powered space ships carting people off the planet. Eden Log, on the other hand, chooses to go the more cerebral route of showing a mud covered man waking up in a pool, climbing over a dead body, and slowly revealing clues to his identity. But do they actually achieve what they are going for?
The Mutant Chronicles definitely entertains you with action. There is a lot of brutality in the movie, sure to satisfy the violence seekers in all of us. The only color in the movie that isn't in grayscale is red, which you will see in geyser-like spurts most of the time. The onslaught of the mutants is a scene to behold as heads are run through like meat on a kebab. The movie sets its tone early and often, with just a bit of drama thrown in there for good measure (the trailer would have you believe there is more drama than the movie contains). Mutant definitely delivers on the action side.
Eden Log is at heart a mystery story and it keeps a lot of information from you from the very start. You have to start trying to figure out what is going on, especially when the first scene is 5 minutes of a muddy guy looking at a blinking spotlight and grunting. It's slow moving and atmospheric, definitely making for a very creepy feel throughout the film. As it trudges along, it has a tendency to slow down the action a lot, but never loses your attention (at least not mine). Eden Log is definitely not for everyone and it can be slow, but the tone of the film allows it to achieve the intelligence it is striving for.
Eden Log has its share of action as well. The scenes where the mutants start to swarm and take on some of the humans are very well done and downright terrifying in parts. However, Eden Log isn't trying to rely on the mutants for tension. In fact, the most intense parts of the movie are when the mutants aren't onscreen but merely implied to be in the shadows. The Mutant Chronicles dips its foot into the pool of deep thought on occasion, but never goes very long without a red fountain spraying across the screen. The Mutant Chronicles isn't trying to be an overly intelligent movie, but it's not trying to be a dumb movie either. The problem is that while Mutant succeeds in action but not really in thought, Eden Log seems to do pretty well with both.
As for casting, Eden Log has no one you have ever heard of in it. Or maybe you have heard of them if you watch a lot of French films, but from what I understand, they are fairly unknown over there too. The Mutant Chronicles features some great names: Tom Jane (The Mist), Ron Perlman (Hellboy himself!), John Malkovich (Con Air's Cyrus the Virus), Devon Aoki (Sin City's sword-wielding Miho), and Sean Pertwee (Dog Solders and Event Horizon). Eden Log throws a winding story at you and dares you keep up; The Mutant Chronicles shows you everything from the start like a college streaker. Eden Log will have you wincing to think about the plot whereas The Mutant Chronicles will have you wincing thinking about having a giant spike in your face. The movies look so very similar and yet play out so very differently.
In the end, I would recommend both movies, but choose which you are in the mood for: Eden Log for a serious thinking mood and The Mutant Chronicles for a fun action movie mood. I liked both films and need to watch them both again for different reasons. Both have their pratfalls: they both feature some less than stellar acting at parts, both have a few boring scenes, and both make you realize how some directors try too hard at times to achieve the look they are going for. But both movies are engaging enough to make you want to keep watching. The problems they present are fairly minor and not enough to make you want to stop the movie. In the end, I will buy both movies soon (Eden Log is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD while The Mutant Chronicles is available shortly), but I have to give the edge to The Mutant Chronicles on this one. It has more watchability, better action, and Sean fucking Pertwee. I love that guy. And yes, he dies in the movie as he does in every movie he is in.
Plus you get to see a lot of people stabbed in the face, something Eden Log severely lacks.