The story takes place in the 23rd century. Sort of. More on that in a bit.
Humans have exhausted most of the earth's resources and have been plunged
back to the technology level of the 1880-1915 era. Political boundaries have
disappeared, but they have been replaced by rigid economic boundaries which
serve the same purpose. The entire earth is now owned by four corporations
which are always at war. When I say "war," I do not mean that they battle with
competitive marketing or financial strategies, but that they possess armies
which engage one another in endless trench warfare in the manner of WW1.
Mitch (Tom Jane), a battle-hardened soldier, is fighting a
desperate battle against an enemy corporation when an errant shell destroys
an "ancient stone seal" which releases some hideous "necromutants." The mutants multiply
rapidly and destroy everything in their path. The officers of the
corporations are about to abandon the planet and leave the common people
to their fate when an alternate is proposed by Brother Samuel (Ron Perlman),
leader of the Brotherhood, an ancient monastic order. Samuel is the keeper
of the Chronicles, a mystical text which prophesies both the rise of the mutants,
and their fall to the 'Deliverer.' Big Sam believes that he personally is the
Deliverer who is destined to journey deep into the earth to destroy the
semi-ancient threat. He manages to recruit Mitch and a rag-tag team of
stock comic book characters: an honorable enemy officer, a woman who
wields a mystic sword, a street fighter named El Jesus, and so forth.
Ancient evil? In the 23rd century? Assuming that no such necromutants
exist today, possible excepting Dick Cheney, the stone seal could not be
more than about 200 years old, could it? Actually, the promotional
literature says the story takes place in the 23rd century, but the opening
captions specify the year 2707, so it is possible that future humans will
discover new advances in mathematics which will allow centuries to include
far more than a hundred years, possible as many as a zillion kajillion. Or
maybe somebody realized at the last minute that it would not be possible
to unearth "ancient" evil in the 23rd century if said evil does not
already exist in the 21st, so they produced a "2707" word slide.
The director spent a reported eight million dollars and hired some
recognizable stars like Ron Perlman and Thomas Jane (and even John Malkovich in a
small role) to perform in front of green screens which would later be
augmented with various steam-punk illustrations. The idea was to create an
alternate comics-inspired world, in the manner of
Sin City or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Unfortunately, he result
looks like what Sky Captain would have looked like if I had made it in my house with no money, no
CGI, no green screen, and a camcorder. If I had to do that, I would scan an actual page from a comic
book, blow it up, print it out in sections on my little laser printer,
re-assemble the image by taping the sections to a
wall, then have my friends perform by walking in front of the wall. I'm not
saying the director actually did that. It's just that many scenes look like
people standing in front of drawings. To make
matters worse, the vehicles and airships in motion look like the miniatures from
those supermarionation TV shows in the 60s. like Supercar and Captain Scarlet.
Except Supercar was more realistic.
And had a cool theme song.
And I managed to stay awake during Supercar.