Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Antiquities, alchemy, immortality.  All are present in Cronos, Written and directed by Guillermo de Toro, the film begins with a brief history of a strange device that looks somewhat like a golden scarab – created by an alchemist and allegedly able to extend the owner's life. After living 300 years, the owner dies in a freak accident and his belongings are auctioned off.

Elderly antique shop owner Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) and his granddaughter (Tamara Shanath) are minding the store one day when several cucarachas crawl out of a wooden angel statuette.  Prying open the statue, Gris finds a strange golden device.  As he attempts to figure out how it works, the mechanism springs open and pierces his hand with its metal legs.  Startled, he disengages it…but takes it home with him.

Meanwhile, one of the shop's customers that day was looking for the same angel statue.  Irritable Angel de la Guardia (Ron Perlman) thinks he's been on a wild goose chase seeking similar statues for his terminally ill uncle (Claudio Brook).  However, his uncle also has a piece of the alchemist's estate in a detailed journal and is completely certain they have found the right angel.  They are more than displeased to find it empty of the real treasure, but Gris will not give it up – even though the elder de la Guardia suggests there will be trouble if Gris uses it without understanding 'the instructions' on how to use it.

In the meantime, Gris finds himself drawn to the device again, and allows it to clamp onto his hand once more.  In addition to the metal legs clamping to his hand, there is a 'stinger' that also pierces the skin and activates another interesting mechanism inside the machine.  He begins to change as well, feeling and looking younger.  His granddaughter notices the change and mistrusts the device, attempting to hide it from Gris. However, he finds it again and continues to use it.

Things become even stranger on New Year's Eve.  Gris, his wife and granddaughter go to a dance, and he is suddenly struck with a strange craving.  Angel de la Guardia has also tracked Gris down and intends to get revenge for continuing to keep the device from his uncle.  He gets his revenge by pushing Gris' car off a cliff – with Gris in it.  Will that keep him down?  Of course not!  However, immortality does come at a price…

I quite enjoyed this movie – the pacing was excellent, the plot was just weird enough you could suspend your disbelief *just enough*, and the acting was good.  I initially had misgivings about the film because I was worried it would be like Pan's Labyrinth (which I really did not like), but it was completely different. The movie has parts in both Spanish and English, so some reading is required unless you speak both of these languages.

If you:

  • Like a mysterious and somewhat magical tale
  • Like the idea of hidden treasure
  • Believe there's always a trade-off

Put it in the queue!

If you:

  • Don't think you would find an artistically-inclined mortician named Tito amusing
  • Don't like Ron Perlman
  • Have no imagination

Don't put it in the queue!

Written by Jennifer Venson