Director: Kevin Munrow
Writer: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Tiziano Sclavi
Stars: Brandon Routh, Anta Briem, Sam Huntington, Peter Stormare, Taye Diggs, Kurt Angle
RANT: Dilemmas abound for me this weekend. Do I back peddle and go see the kid friendly Rio or the flailing Water for Elephants? Instead, I went out of my way to go see the comic book movie Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. To do so, I needed to drive 22 minutes to a multiplex farther out on Long Island. The National Amusement Commack Multiplex is a throwback to a forgotten era when simply adding more theaters was enough. No stadium seating existed, although the seating was kept in good condition. The aisle way rode down the center instead on on the side, making me wonder again why the best seats in the house would be given up for patron access. This theater's setup is a reminder of moviegoers expectation of the creature comforts of stadium seating and cup holders.
SYNOPSIS: In Louisiana, the mecca for the undead creature of the night, Dylan Dog was appointed the sole human investigator for vampire, zombie and werewolf affairs. After the death of his girlfriend and his massacre of the vampire elders, Dylan retires - branded a monster hunter. Now, with the death of a client's father and the death of his partner, Dylan decides to take on one more case.
Kevin Munroe, really only known for directing four kung fu reptiles in the 2007 CG adaptation of TMNT, comes at us with the adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi's DC comic book series, Dylan Dog. Tiziano Sclavi also wrote the novel Cemetery Man which became an Italian underground cult classic movie entitled Dellamorte Dellamore.
Set in modern-day New Orleans, Louisiana, Dylan Dog feels like a crime noir film with the addition of the undead. In this case, the title of "Undead" covers all manner of ghouls, zombies, vampires, and even werewolves - an obvious slight to the furry community if I ever heard it.
In the case of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Kevin Munroe's noir interpretation of the source material, Dylan Dog is similar to Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Dylan Dog is a hard-boiled private investigator, cynical and brooding. With over-used voiceover narrative by Routh's Dylan, we are spoon fed the majority of the plot when needed. And when we need more explanation, Dylan provides us with more narrative onscreen. But with Brandon Routh, Dylan Dog is also more comedic and light, in spite of the heart-breaking losses from his past. Routh is too good looking to be miserable for very long.
With too much forced narrative, Routh's Dylan doesn't have much chemistry with the client, Elizabeth (Anita Briem), who loses her father to a werewolf, even though it is her case that brings him out of retirement. Actually, though, it is the death of his PI assistant, Marcus (Sam Huntington), who coaxes him out of self-pity. And herein lies the redemption of the film.
Whether it is the previous relationship and screen work that Routh and Huntington shared in Superman Returns or something else, the chemistry works between them. And Huntington makes what is a mediocre comic version of Constantine into something enjoyable. Once he is killed and returns as a zombie, Huntington takes a Chas Kramer rip-off to an entirely new comedic level, filled with exclamation and a journey through the hidden world of zombie diet, beauty regiments, and storage room zombie support groups.
And speaking of Constantine, Peter Stormare stars as the head of one of the wolf clans - growling and fun to watch, although somewhat pale compared to his portrayal of Satan in Constantine. Taye Diggs stars as Vargus, the head of the opposing vampire nation and peddler of a new drug consisting of vampire blood. All the while, Routh's Dylan, Huntington's Marcus and Anita Briem's Elizabeth look to solve the mystery of a stolen artifact that may contain the power to undo the undead nations.
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is fairly forgettable aside from Sam Huntington. A seven foot tattooed zombie looks like it came from Resident Evil: Apocalypse. The demon that emerges in the third act as a result of the artifact reminds me of Tom Cruise's Legend, but darker in color. The noir works to a degree, but I think that a 1940s era would have worked better.