Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dylan Dog - Theatrical Review


Release Date: April 29, 2011

Whenever your trailer has a narrator sounds like he is from the mid 90's spouting out dialog with a deep smoker riddled voice such as "In a city that loves to party...", it is never a good thing. However I gotta admit that the film did exceed my expectations but in this case that is not a good thing considering that it exceeded them by being even more godawful than I ever imagined.

Review Vital Stats:
Theater: AMC 30 at the Block in Orange
Time: 12:01 am April 29, 2011
Projector Type: Digital 2D

Loves: Trashy monster movies
Likes: Film noir
Neutral: Brandon Routh
Hates: Being bored to death
Based: Loosely on an Italian comic book of the same name

I must have a deep seeded need for self inflicted punishment. Nobody forces me to seek out bad films and watch them but I do anyway. I guess I do it in an attempt to find that hidden gem, that film that blurs those oh so thin lines between good and bad. Just like an archaeologist searching for that one artifact that makes it all worthwhile I to force myself to sit through some of the worst uses of celluloid of all time in order to find such rare items of worth. When I first saw the trailer for Dylan Dog it immediately seemed like the worst idea for a movie ever and thus I was hooked. Could the finished product ever truly live up to how bad that trailer made it look? Was I in store for some truly great/horrible cinema? Because how can a movie starring Brandon Routh as an "Investigator for the Undead" where he befriends vampires, werewolves and zombies not be so bad its good? Well, somehow it managed to do the impossible, it is nowhere near as bad as you would think but in the process of trying to take itself seriously it commits an even greater sin by becoming a dreadful bore.

Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) is your average everyday private investigator. While he isn't busy taking photos of some guy cheating on his wife he is usually busy dealing with his young and very whiny protege Marcus (Sam Huntington) who is tired of being the errand boy and wants to become a full partner. Dylan has a secret though, he hasn't always been an investigator of matters dealing with the living. He once was the single mortal that was entrusted with keeping the peace between the vampires (or as the film calls them, True Bloods), werewolves and zombies. After a certain incident a few years back involving his now deceased wife he retired from the ghoulish life as the undead nanny. However, after a recent visit to his new client Elizabeth (Anita Briem) which leads to the untimely death and resurrection of his buddy Marcus he finds himself back in the world he thought he left behind.

Hmmm...could this clue lead to us finding out how the film got funded?

OK, the few positive things I have to say about the film I will get out of the way first (trust me this won't take long). I have to imagine that the style and ideas came from the comic book it was based off of because they were far to imaginative for a film that lacks any shred of originality anywhere else (the spare parts store for zombies was a new one for sure). The entire film is done like one of those classic noir detective stories with Dylan giving endless amounts of narration for every single little thing he does, "I thought about this guy so I went there" or my personal favorite "Yep, she was responsible for the murder alright" which he promptly tells us while he is driving up to the place where he has yet to discover what he just told us. Then there is the methodical nature of how Dylan works, I like myself a good detective story and all but the underlying mystery has to be interesting for it to work and the notion of vampires trying to take over the world is beyond cliche. While the idea of a noir style detective story filled with mythical creatures sounds promising it never once uses any of that juicy material for anything even resembling interesting or fun.

So yeah, the basic framework of the film was interesting but everything else was miss or not even try. Let's start with probably one of the biggest glaring issues of the entire film with who they decided to cast in the role of Dylan Dog. Now Brandon Routh made a decent Superman but even then he seemed to lack any sort of a personality. I had always assumed it was due to him trying to appear focused or something. But other than his few comedic attempts in films such as Zack & Miri or Scott Pilgrim he has consistently displayed the personality of a tree stump. He attempts to play Dylan Dog as this been-there-done-that type of guy who doesn't ever react to anything. I suppose that approach makes sense given the character's history but the way Routh plays it he seems more disinterested as opposed to being tired of it all. I would normally give the actor the benefit of the doubt and claim that there may have been a decision on the director's part for this but I think Routh just either didn't know how to properly play the part or he really was just not interested in anything he was doing.

Marcus wakes up to realize it isn't a dream,  he really is in a horrible movie.

That disinterest of course carries over to all his narration as well. Whenever his voice over came on it constantly reminded me of that kid in a High School English class that was forced to read something out loud for the entire class and you got that feeling the kid was just going through the motions to get it over with. And like I already mentioned, the narration all felt completely arbitrary and unnecessary but when you add the limp delivery from Routh to the mix it made it sound even worse. If Brandon Routh is to ever become a true leading man (at this rate I don't think that is possible unless he hits the independent circle real fast) he not only has to do the obvious and pick better films but he also has to find some sort of spark. Because as of right now watching the man act is the equivalent to watching paint dry.

What about the other actors? Well they all ranged from mildly amusing to godawful. Probably the only person in the film to appear as though they had a pulse was the guy playing the damn zombie. Sam Huntington by no means is anything special here, he is given the completely cliche task of being the comedy relief as the guy who has to deal with being a zombie the rest of his life. While many of his scenes involved him constantly yelling or overreacting to something new he realized that he had to do as a zombie he at least seemed to be trying and I can't knock the guy for that. If anything his character made it even more evident to me that this movie should have been a straight up comedy because it is filled with so much potential to have been a great mockery of horror/detective films.

Dylan tries to explain why the movie is so bad.

The lead actress that plays Elizabeth was a complete bore. Even when we find out her secret she was still as wooden as a pencil with everything she did or said. But the one guy in all this that deserves no mercy for how bad he was is Taye Diggs as the head vampire Vargas. Diggs can usually pull off the self confident pretty boy fairly well but when he tries to add dangerous into the mix he just comes off as being total douche bag. He is without a doubt one of the worst vampires I have ever seen and is given some of the worst dialog imaginable with lines such as "The human race is over Y'all!".  Peter Stormare is the complete opposite of Diggs pussy vampire as the head werewolf Gabriel. Unfortunately though he isn't on screen nearly as much as Diggs is so anything he adds to the movie is fleeting at best.

Ultimately though I was expecting all that, I never once thought that Brandon Routh was going to be anything resembling a real actor, I knew that the "story" would be complete horseshit and most of all I knew it was going to be a bad film. The thing I wasn't expecting was how horribly boring everything was, nothing happens in the movie! We follow Dylan around New Orleans as he tries to track down whomever and attempts to solve a mystery that we don't give two shits about while visiting all these different locales (at least the film varied its locations often). But whenever anything of interest started to happen it usually ended with an awkward cut to the next scene.

Look at that intensity...or is that boredom?

Take for instance the first encounter Dylan has with a werewolf played by Kurt Angle (Yeah, you read that right). In the ONLY instance where we see a werewolf wolfout in the entire film it ends immediately after Dylan punches him with a silver set of brass knuckles. And I don't mean it ends like the fight ends, the werewolf returns to human form, Dylan says something and just like that we cut to the next place Dylan is visiting. Then you have Dylan's first very random encounter with the movies main baddie, the gigantic zombie that has been rampaging around town and killing everyone in sight (come to think of it I don't think anyone in the city was human other than Dylan...strange). While Dylan interrogates a suspect in an alleyway the zombie comes out of nowhere, kills the person he was talking to, knocks Dylan out of the alley and just like that he is gone and we cut to the next place Dylan is visiting. Those are the exciting parts of the movie! Everything else is just Dylan going around talking to people, most of the time he even revisits the same people numerous times and still nothing happens.

Once again, I don't want to sound as though I was expecting anything resembling a good film here. I however was half expecting to find some ridiculously over the top situations at least. If you have a movie filled with all these different types of monsters you would think we would at least see a vampire fight the huge zombie, a werewolf fight a vampire or even all three fighting each other. Nope, whenever they die it is usually isn't anything special and even the "bombastic" finale didn't register anything resembling excitement. This all comes back to how serious the movie takes itself, I couldn't help but think if they had just loosened their belt a little and had some fun with the material that there could have been some fun to be had here. I don't want to see Dylan emote about his dead wife and have him get all touchy-feely, I want him to go out and fight some crazy ass creatures of the night damn it!

Mega zombie guy isn't nearly as crazy stupid as you would hope for.

This is one of those films where you wonder to yourself (as you watch it) how on Earth anyone ever thought this movie was a good idea. I would love to meet the person that put up the money to make it and ask them what the hell they were thinking...and then slap them. I got the sneaking suspicion that everyone involved here knew they were making a bad movie. I tend to think of a quote from an interview I saw with Bruce Willis once where he commented on some of the poor films he was a part of. He said, "No one ever truly sets out to make a bad movie" and most of the time I agree with that but in the case of Dylan Dog I cannot imagine that someone on the set never once thought to themselves "Why am I working on this crap?". Dylan Dog can't even be classified as a misfire, as it was dead on arrival with only a couple of redeeming ideas that were never used to even their half potential. This is one dog that should have been put down at birth.




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