Friday, May 13, 2011

Words Raised By Wolves

Not A Regular Movie Review
“Dylan Dog: Dead of Night”

by Martin Mundt

Director: Kevin Munroe
Writers: Thomas Dean Donnelly &
Joshua Oppenheimer
and Tiziano Sclavi (comic book series)
107 minutes
Brandon Routh: Dylan Dog
Sam Huntington: Marcus
Peter Stormare: Gabriel
Taye Diggs: Vargas
Anita Briem: Elizabeth
Kurt Angle: Wolfgang

I hadn’t really planned on writing a review, but when I started thinking about this movie, I guess my thoughts turned into one, so here it is, for everybody who has been desperately waiting to hear what I thought about “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night”.

The movie lies somewhere between “Hellboy” and the actual, made-for-cable poop that the Syfy Channel pumps out as original programming, but way closer to “Hellboy”. And I really enjoyed “Hellboy”. And I’m referring to the first “Hellboy”, not the second one.

So, let’s start with a spectrum.
“Hellboy I” (a really good movie)
“Dylan Dog: Dead of Night” (not such a bad movie)
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (not such a good movie)
Syfy Channel Original Movies (almost actual physical poop movies)

Brandon Routh played Dylan Dog in a low-key and deadpan manner, with kind of a noirish sensibility, I thought. Or maybe he can’t act. I couldn’t tell, but I’m going to go with a noirish sensibility, since I’ve never seen him in anything else, and he looked like a nice enough guy, and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I figure he picked a low-energy acting choice, rather than an affect-less, non-acting inability. (And aren’t I a real open-minded mensch?) Yay, Brandon Routh! I praise you for your successful acting choices!

Actually, he eerily reminded me of Chris Noth facially, except he doesn’t have that same just-beneath-the-surface psycho-menace that Chris Noth always projects so effortlessly for me. In other words, Chris Noth scares me; Brandon Routh doesn’t. I kept thinking through the whole movie that he looked like Chris Noth’s little brother, and so I kind of felt a little bad for him, like maybe he had to go through life making excuses for Chris’ bad behavior all the time to everybody, but, you know what? Enough about Brandon Routh already. Low-key. Deadpan. Noirish. He was funny. He was heroic. He was anti-heroic. I really had no problem with him. If I ever get to make a movie, I’d put him in it. Of course, if he ever reads this review, he probably wouldn’t want to be in one of my movies, but that’s a problem I guess I’ll deal with later.

Peter Stormare played Gabriel the werewolf. I like him; he scares me. But, as usual, he’s not in the movie enough. He needs to be used more up front in movies; and yes, I realize he’s not a lead actor. I don’t care. I’m just sayin’, is all. (Go see my story “How I Saved A Famous Movie Star’s Life …”, below, for a fuller idea of how I feel about character actors.) At any rate, Peter Stormare was good, if under-utilized. He does stuff with his face and voice that other parts of the movie have to do with CGI, except he does it better, and without CGI.

Anita Briem played Elizabeth, who was playing both ends against the middle. I can’t credit myself with any special psychic movie-powers; it just seemed pretty obvious to me that her character wasn’t what she said she was. Why everybody else in the movie didn’t realize this is beyond me. If I could see it, then I figure a lemur with both eyes carved out by a spoon should’ve been able to see it. Fair warning: I was surprised by the reveals at the ends of both “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”. So if I saw her con-game for what it was, then what does that tell you about Elizabeth the Character’s powers of conmanship?

But, to be fair, Elizabeth the Character seemed to be concerned mostly with the Plot, which had something to do with the End of the World, or Ultimate Power, or Surpassing Evil, or Some Such Thing. I find myself unable to remember which specific Surpassing Ultimate anymore, although there was this Cross—Thingy—Artifact—Stabby—Thingy involved. And Elizabeth the Character got killed by Kurt Angle’s character Wolfgang, who was a werewolf. (I think; I don’t remember exactly anymore, but that’s what I’m going with. If I’m wrong, you’ll be surprised when you see the movie. Surprise!) Oh, and the Plot gets resolved without the Surpassing Ultimate mucking everything up. So there. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

But the Plot wasn’t really the point of the movie, I don’t think. The characters were. And unfortunately, I think, for me at least, Anita Briem’s character got too entangled with the Plot and not entangled enough with the other characters for her to be particularly interesting, and now, a week after I saw the movie, I can’t remember much about Elizabeth the Character. And I feel bad about that.

(Just as a commercial aside for myself – the piss-ant, little-shit writer who can’t keep his nose out of other’s people’s business, where it doesn’t belong – I could have written a better part for Elizabeth the Character, but probably also anything I wrote would’ve cost too much money. You see, I’m thinking she’s really twins, and one of her is good, and the other is evil, but they’re both subject to unpredictable, random blackouts, and they’re also psychically connected to each other, and Dylan never knows if he’s with the evil one – who has evil plans – or if he’s with the good one – who has good plans – and … no, wait, wait … even better, they’re triplets, but even they don’t know they’re triplets, and that way Anita Briem gets to play three parts in one movie; and so it’s a win-win-win-win situation.)

Taye Diggs played the most evil of the evil vampires. What can I say about him? He does a good evil vampire. I don’t think they gave him a particularly evil evil vampire to work with, but, given the sheer, leering, evil tonnage of evil vampires galumphing around the googleplexes these days, how many really interesting ones are there going to be? He looked good. He got screwed in the end, and then he got killed. Big surprise.

Actually, he could’ve been the biggest evil-douche vampire in the entire movie-world, and people would probably still have liked him, because, y’know, he’s really good-looking. In fact, I’d bet he could probably have been in charge of the vampires even if he weren’t a vampire himself, because, really, let’s face it, he’s just that good-looking. If you’re going to send somebody to do something really shitty for you, hey, why not send Taye Diggs?

But anyway, like I said, despite his really huge good looks, he gets killed in the end, because he’s the head evil-douche vampire, and he kind of has to.

And Sam Huntington played Marcus, Dylan’s zombie-sidekick, who was the best zombie-sidekick I’ve ever seen. Okay, that sounds like I’m damning him with faint praise, when he really was a really good zombie-sidekick. I particularly liked him in the body-shop scene.

The whole movie took place in New Orleans, although for the most part it looked like Anyplace, USA, to me. According to what I’ve read about the comic books, the story is supposed to be set in London. If a setting is supposed to be like another character in a story, then I’d say that using this New Orleans instead of London is kind of like exchanging Kate Bush for Courtney Love on a heroin binge. Mostly warehouses and apartments, and part of a cemetery, that honestly, if I hadn’t known was supposed to be in New Orleans, wouldn’t have jumped out at me and screamed “New Orleans!”. Enough said.

I originally thought that the movie was a bit top-heavy with flashbacks, but that was before I saw “Thor”. Now, post-“Thor”, not so much. (More on “Thor” in a later post.) At any rate, the flashbacks kind of bothered me at the time, but not any more. What can I say? I’ve matured.

Now for my pet-peeve: fight scenes. Most of you can probably skip this section. It’s the equivalent of an old man screaming, “Get off my lawn!” Except I’m yelling, “Do the fight scenes better!”

Like most CGI fight scenes, the POV seems to shift constantly, and the whole fight focuses on movement, not coherence. At least to me. Where exactly do we see any CGI fight scene from? The floor? The ceiling? The tip of someone’s fist? All of the above in sequential one-sixteenth second bursts? Who the fuck knows? Maybe somebody clamped the camera to an oblate spheroid that rotates randomly around the fight as the whole circus floats through space on a non-continuous helix. Oh, and they’re poorly lit. I usually give up on fight scenes in movies these days and spend the time re-creating Mamie Van Doren’s scenes in “The Navy vs. the Night Monsters” in my head instead. Nobody is going to win until the end of the movie anyway, and the odds are not really then either, if there is even a whiff of a chance of a franchise to be sniffed. I went home and watched Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone swordfight in “The Mark of Zorro”. Go, watch it, and tell me if it doesn’t look like Basil Rathbone actually gets run through. Then I watched John Wayne and Victor McLaglen fistfight in “The Quiet Man”. That made me feel better.


Did I actually enjoy this movie?

Yes, I did. It was funny. It was entertaining. You could spend $7 on something worse, no problem, like a meal at McDonalds, or half a Justin Bieber CD, or anything by Stephenie Meyer.

Expectations played a role, because I’d never read the comics, so, frankly, I didn’t have any expectations. But if they make a sequel, I’d go see it. And if they let me write the sequel, even better – that I’d go see three or four times.

- The End -

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