Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Triple D Action (But probably not the kind you're hoping for)

Look, SOMEONE had to see Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. Brandon Routh's mom can only buy so many tickets before the poor lug starts getting suspicious.
Quick Plot: Dylan Dog (Superman Returns’ Routh) is a private investigator stuck with goofy sidekick Marcus (Superman Returns’ Jimmy Olsen, because apparently there was some kind of sale), a token tragic past involving a dead love, and a really, really stupid name. Though he makes a decent living digging up dirt on cheating spouses, Dylan Dog’s real talent lies in monitoring New Orleans enormous population of vampire club kids, werewolf butchers, zombie bouncers and international antiques smugglers.

It’s the latter that starts Dead of Night (out of respect, I’ll refer to this naively self-believing franchise starter by its subtitle so clearly designed to be the first of many Dylan Dogs that will never be made). Dylan Dog reluctantly takes a job investigating the death of a relics trader whose daughter Elizabeth (or just call her The Girl) quickly velcros herself to Dylan Dog’s rigidly ripped chest. Before you can say true blood--and don’t worry, it’s said a lot--Dylan Dog is fighting werewolves, appendage shopping for the newly zombified Marcus, staring down evil club owning vampire Taye Diggs and sorta kinda bemoaning the loss of his past lady love who was--big surprise--brutally slaughtered some time ago.

You might have noticed the fact that I have only been referring to Routh's character by his full Dylan Dog name. When you have a character with such a title, it behooves a lowly blogger to use the words 'Dylan Dog' as often as possible in a review because really, has there ever been a better named protagonist in cinema history?
Dylan Dog!

Going into Dead of Night (teehee), my expectations were not high. In truth, they were lower than a limbo stick at an Attack of the Puppet People beach party. The fact that I don’t know a single living creature that has seen the film didn’t bode well, and the trailer made me think it was actually a CW mid-season replacement (in part because I don’t know the difference between Brandon Routh and Tom Welling). I’m still not entirely certain Mr. Routh is an actual human being. Part of me is convinced he was simply grown and harvested in a laboratory to play Superman and with that film’s rightful bombing, is now being leased out half price to smaller action films in a bid to recoup some of the genetic farming costs.

But hey, why beat a handsome hunk of wood when his film has already opened in 18th place with a low per screen average? Dead of Night is imperfect all around, but it’s also surprisingly fun. The film never tries to take itself remotely serious, keeping a popcorn light atmosphere throughout its hand-to-hand Buffy-esque battles, supernatural mythology slideshows (seriously), and awkward barely there love scene that feels crammed in merely to prove Routh still has his Superman physique. Don’t mind the fact that he can’t seem to bend or emote.

This is the kind of movie that trusts the holographic Brandon Routh to narrate about 45% of its running time in what I guess was an attempt at capturing its original source material comic frames or old school hard-boiled detective mood. That was the first of Dead of Night's many mistakes, though after a while, you kind of forgive it. Unlike a lot of slicker studio horror films, Dead of Night at least *tries* to entertain, pulling out every possible trick it can muster to give you a small smile. Most of its jokes have been done before and better, but there's a genuine charm about how much it wants to make you happy. 

Think of it as the cinematic equivalent of Clippy, that bright-eyed but useless icon that used to stalk your typing in Microsoft Word. It REALLY wants to please. It will most likely be deleted.

High Points
He doesn’t get nearly enough screentime, but Peter Stormare’s werewolf patriarch easily lends some juicy sparkle where it counts, particularly after a too-long intro focused squarely on the cardboard Routh. More teeth-clicking please.

Low Points
So that big buildup to the monster master happened. Then it ended. That was that eh?
Lessons Learned
Women who bang vampires are also the world’s heaviest sleepers
The go-to accessory for true blood addicts is a beanie
Before activating your apocalyptic vampire relic, you should really consider reading that owner’s manual

A lesson to the ladies: post-coital vampire-warding-off gifts are actually useless, though they do make that morning seem nice and important
New Orleans is filled with many monsters, lots of worms, and a ton of New Yawk accents
The Winning Line
“The human race is obsolete y’all”
This is gigglesome for various reasons, the most prominent being that Taye Diggs is a smooth as butter man with an eloquent speaking (and singing) voice. So tossing in ‘y’all’ is ridiculous in a near-offensive manner. But also hilarious.

See/Skip/Sneak In
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is like that quiet kid in your fourth grade class that everyone forgot existed. It’s not that he/she is mean or smelly or a Nazi or anything; just really forgettable. There’s a part of me that wants to encourage a matinee viewing just as penance to make up for all the years you didn’t invite Little Boring Classmate to your bowling alley birthday party. It’s a good-hearted film made by C-listers with lots of enthusiasm. There’s plenty of zombie humor (some quite inspired, a lot not at all) and some genuinely chucklesome monster gags that certainly make it an eventual lazy rental or instant watch. If you’re in a part of the world where the weather isn’t currently gorgeous and 65 degrees, then I suppose you could kill 100 minutes with a viewing. I'm not really advocating that you do, but I feel like no one else will and so, you a ticket if you're running from the cops and need a place to lay low for a while? That happens, right?


  1. I have a Dylan Dog comic book, but it's in French and I'm too lazy to do the hard work of reading it. I did read somewhere that Dylan Dog was physically based on Rupert Everett. Dylan Dog was then the basis for the main character of "Cemetery Man", a movie that is as awesome as it is incoherent (my favorite type of movie). Who played the main character in "Cemetery Man"? RUPERT EVERETT. It's a Mobius strip of Rupert Everett and Dylan Dog.

  2. So Brandon Routh's completely wooden acting wasn't exclusive to Superman Returns? I thought he was only wooden in that movie because he was trying to do his best Christopher Reeve impression.

  3. Apparently the Dylan Dog comics are some of the bestselling comics in the world. I don't think that means anything for the film though. And shameful to say, but I still haven't seen Cemetery Man! I have a ripped copy and one of these days, I swear--SWEAR!--I'll pop it in.

    And Chris, Brandon Routh can be entertaining in small doses--his scenes with Justin Long were the best thing in Zach and Miri--but much like Marc Blucas, he's also just kinda there. Good-looking and likable young man, but spark? Absent.

  4. Awesome, I've been waiting for this film for a long time.

  5. The Dylan Dog are REALLY bestselling. Famed writer and philosopher Umberto Eco has gone on record to call Dylan Dog one of his favourite works of fiction!

  6. Hope you enjoy it Bonjour!

    It's odd that SUCH a big comic book would end up getting such a cheap film treatment. Maybe they assumed the material would sell itself, at least to an international audience?

  7. I thought this looked like it could have been really fun. I'm sad it wasn't better done. Brandon Routh will be a terrific b movie star!

  8. I don't know, I think Routh could be just as useful moving camera equipment back and forth.

  9. I would enjoy this, huh?
    I think I would...

    Loved your post though! I think you're the perfect person to review this kind of film. <3