Lurking somewhere within the half-decent little B-movie that is Mimic there is a far better little B-movie. Its curious that this new Blu-Ray edition comes advertised as the Directors Cut, a designation which director Guillermo Del Toro seems to approve of. What he means, I suppose, is that this is his cut of the movie he made; its just, he planned on making another movie. Del Toro hit the genre movie scene with his debut Cronos (1993), a reinterpretation of the vampire myth made in his homeland of Mexico. This he followed in 1997 with Mimic, an adaptation of a short story about big killer insects lurking under Manhattan. Del Toro wanted to bring his personal quirks to the material, but the studio had other ideas and he ended up making a fairly standard Hollywood product, which he virtually disowned at one point. It taught him an important lesson, and he returned to making personal movies like The Devils Backbone (2001) and Pans Labyrinth (2006). The one word I learned on Mimic, he said, was the word no. This new edition restores 6 minutes of footage cut from the original but it is effectively still a decent Hollywood product; what he adds simply gives you a hint of some of the ideas he was trying to cram in. But there are no dramatic changes and some of the more typical contrivances are still in there. It ends on a note of typical Hollywood shlock. Anyone who remembers 90s action and disaster movies well will be able to figure out not only which characters will survive, but how most of them will die. And yet theres enough of Del Toro in there to make it worth watching. The set-up for the story involves Susan, a scientist played by Mira Sorvino, creating a mutant bug that kills off the disease-carrying cockroaches that are killing the children of Manhattan. They are designed to last only one generation then die off, but somehow the blighters survive and three years down the line they have evolved into human-size beasties (they even have lungs, which is presumably explained to satisfy any biologists in the audience). Susan, her husband Peter (also a scientist, played by Jeremy Northam) descend into the subways and tunnels beneath New York in an attempt to discover and destroy them. They are joined by cops Josh (Josh Brolin) and Leonard (Charles S. Dutton) and, in a typically Del Toro story thread, an old shoe-shiner (Giancarlo Giannini) and his grandson. This set-up is a variation on Frankenstein: man plays God with science, creation turns on Man, Man learns a not-very-applicable-in-the-real-world lesson. Frankenstein is clearly a key text for Del Toro (who at one stage planned his own adaptation of it), and indeed it is name-dropped at one point by a sage old professor (F. Murray Abraham) who warns of the danger of such things, while being grateful that the frankenbugs probably saved his grandchildrens lives. However this central set-up wasnt Del Toros initial idea; he wanted the mutant bugs not to have been created by us which is by now cliché but simply to mark another step in evolution, as the human race is knocked into second place. The studio, concerned at the prospect of originality in a bug movie, vetoed this idea. What we are left with, then, is a perfect example and rebuttal of Andrew Sarriss auteur theory; Del Toros style still shines through the cracks, highlighted by the tension between the studios picture and the one Del Toro had in his head. I say rebuttal because the theory in its original form gave particular credit to movies where such a tension could exist; where a directors personal style would emerge because of that very tension. But, of course, the great Del Toro movies are the ones that do represent his personal vision - the ones he wrote and made just as he wanted. In Mimic what we see is Del Toro leaving his personal stamp on the periphery while the central thrust of the story has to tick the usual tedious boxes. This is true even in this new cut; the tedious stuff has been left in, but perhaps a little more of Del Toro, and the movie he originally planned, can be detected in it. Del Toro has a fascination with insects, and some of the visuals in the film are unsettling and memorable. An early shot has Susan demonstrating the workings of an anthill, which is a great way of anticipating the descent beneath the city. An action sequence set in and around an abandoned subway carriage is tense and visually evocative. The colour schemes anticipate the colours of later, better Del Toro pictures. Its an interesting film, and one that Del Toro fans will certainly want to check out, though its still without doubt his weakest film (something I suspect he would agree on). Although it gets more visually stimulating as the story follows the characters through the citys depths, it also gets more conventional and less interesting on a narrative level. And theres no getting around the fact that the ending is just a standard insult to the audiences intelligence. Watching the film and the extras on this new edition, the film Del Toro wanted to make starts to come into focus a bit, which is both fascinating and a little depressing. Fascinating, because it allows us to start to piece together what that film might have been like; depressing, because the people with the money in Hollywood think that this is the story we would prefer. FILM: 3 out of 5 Still without doubt a flawed film, but well worth checking out both for its importance in Del Toros career trajectory and on its own terms. The movie that were left with isnt the one that Del Toro intended, but even purely as a big-bug movie, its better than most. QUALITY: 4 out of 5 The picture is a perfectly fine HD transfer without being anything too incredible; the metallic colour schemes look particularly good. The 7.1 DTS audio is excellent, which highlights how good the subtle sound editing of the movie is. EXTRAS: 4 out of 5 A short introduction and a longer (15 minute) interview with Del Toro give this cut some context and set the tone for his incredibly honest commentary track. This is one of those discs where the extras are more worthwhile than the movie, and watching the film with the commentary on provided an altogether more entertaining and illuminating experience. Theres a featurette about the design of the bugs, while another has fairly standard on-set interviews with the cast and a young Del Toro. Finally there are a couple of deleted scenes and a gag reel. PRESENTATION: 4 out of 5 As with the other Del Toro blu-rays, this features both nicely designed packaging and an appropriately mechanical-looking menu which is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. OVERALL: 3.5 out of 5 Despite the fact that few would argue the film is perfect, this is still pretty much a must-buy for any serious Del Toro fan. The extras give an insight into how he has developed as a filmmaker and the movie itself in this form helps suggest the movie he wanted to make. Mimic: Director's Cut is available on Blu-ray now.