Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Older movie spoiler review: Dylan Dog

First a preface.  When you have younger children, it is rare to be able to watch movies in the theater unless they are some cartoon extravaganza or 3D concoction.  Therefore, most of my movie watching comes from ever reliable Neflix (or soon to be Qwikster), and as such, my movie reviews will be for slightly older fare.  Thus, given the somewhat stale subject matter of my movie reviews, they will be peppered with spoilers, so be forewarned.  Anyhow, among my favorite genres are campy horror movies, of which Dylan Dog is a somewhat sub par example.

Dylan Dog - should have
skipped and saved room in
my queue.
Dylan Dog stars Brandon Routh of Superman Returns fame, the fantastically bad homage to the Christopher Reeve era Superman movies that basically resulted in a total reboot of the franchise, which is currently filming.  In Dylan Dog, Routh stars as the eponymous detective, who has a mysterious past.  OK, it is not so mysterious, just a little head scratching:  Dylan Dog used to be a human investigator/intermediary between the various factions of the undead in New Orleans.  Basically, in the universe of Dylan Dog, your vampires, werewolves, and zombies are all real, and to prevent an all out war between these different factions (more probably between vampires and werewolves, since the zombies are mostly pretty harmless in the movie), they have a human act as arbiter.

The movie opens with the murder of a man by a werewolf.  The werewolf escapes the house, leaving his grown daughter in distress.  Dylan, meanwhile, has retired from his previous post, and works as a PI, doing the traditional following-the-cheating-spouse routine.  After a quick encounter with one of said spouses, Dylan is hired by the woman, Elizabeth, played by relative newcomer Anita Briem, to investigate the murder.  When Dylan recognizes the supernatural nature of the job, he refuses, to her distress.  That very night, Dylan's partner, Marcus, played by Sam Huntington, is also murdered, but this time by a monstrously large zombie, losing a limb in the process.

This sets Dylan on his return path to the underbelly of New Orleans, running into werewolves who run meat packing companies, zombies that own "body parts" shops for their decaying fellows, and vampires who own nightclubs and deal in vampire blood (reminiscent of a Showtime show that shall be unnamed, but given the source material of the movie - an Italian comic book - I'm not sure which came first; suffice to say that the vampire clan is called the truebloods).  Our eyes into this world is Marcus, now raised as a newly-minted zombie, and gives Dylan the excuse to explain the basics of the undead world.

The movie, unfortunately, is fairly weak.  The special effects are sub par, most of the actors are unknowns, except for Routh and Taye Diggs, who plays the evil vampire, and the plot just seems to move from set piece to set piece, with a comically bad finale.  Moreover, Routh simply lacks the acting chops to carry this movie, which is heavily reliant on his presence, acting, and narration.  Following in the proud tradition of film noir, Dylan Dog's voice serves as a constant narrator to the movie, and unfortunately, Routh simply can't pull off the role of world-weary, I-have-seen-it-all detective with a tragic past.  Moreover, Dylan is supposed to be a mere mortal, but the amount of beating the man endures is simply phenomenal.  Most humans would be in a coma after the very first beating Dylan takes at the hands of a particularly big werewolf.  Later on the action becomes even more comic, and simply unbelievable when Dylan is punched so hard his flies for dozens of yards and is catapulted onto cars, up to balconies, etc.

This is particularly sad, given that the material is interesting, the universe as imagined is entertaining and somewhat original.  If the lead had been played by someone with better comic timing and a rougher exterior, maybe 5 to 10 years older, it could have been an interesting movie.  Routh has shown the ability to turn smaller roles into little gems, such as in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but here, he once again shows that he can't carry a movie solo.  So alas, Dylan Dog turned into a 6% fresh movie on the tomatometer.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night earns 1 star out of five.

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