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MIMIC (1997)

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro

Starring Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam

Mexican horror maestro Del Toro has said he hates this movie. Apparently it wasn't at all the film he intended to produce. The folks at Dimension Films demanded major changes to make it more mainstream, and Del Toro's first experience working in the Hollywood system (after scoring major points with the indie-vampire classic "Kronos") would be a miserable one.

But despite Del Toro's dislike of the movie, "Mimic" is a fun ride. No, it isn't really a Del Toro film. There are only a few moments in it to remind us that his hand was behind it, most notably a subplot involving a loving autistic child (Del Toro's most personal movies seem to revolve around children). But the non-Del Toro elements of the film deliver solid, slick, big-budget horror entertainment, and the climax that Dimension demanded Del Toro include delivers some decent monster-movie thrills.

Sorvino plays a New York scientist who develops a way to combat an epidemic of child illness in the city: Using genetic engineering a super cockroach that will wipe out all cockroaches, carriers of the dread illness. Naturally, however, the creation morphs into a monster. Years later, a strange figure is killing off folks in and around the city subway. The man-like monster is, in fact, a giant bug that can "mimic" the other creatures in its environment in this case man.

Sorvino, her scientist boyfriend (Northam), and a city cop (Charles Dutton) find themselves under siege from the creatures when they become trapped in a remote and abandoned portion of the subway system. This last half of the movie -- presumably the part that Dimension demanded that Del Toro tack on -- boasts the best stuff in the film, mainly killer CGI monster effects. The scenes with the man-like, upright cockroaches are also quite creepy. Sorvino isn't too impressive in her tough-gal role, even though she had just won an Oscar the year this was made (Best Supporting Actress for "Mighty Aphrodidte). F. Murray Abraham also has a small part as a scientist to lend further respectability to the proceedings.

This is Del Toro's worst movie, but it's still a great flick, which says a lot for Del Toro. He would follow it up with "The Devil's Backbone" and another mainstream blockbuster, "Blade 2."

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