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Daybreakers

tn_daybreakersMan, DAYBREAKERS was not what I expected. I heard some good things (all of it from commenters here) and I had high hopes for a dumb-but-fun B movie. But I’d also seen pictures of Willem Dafoe with a crossbow so I thought maybe it had a pretty cool concept of a world populated by civilized vampires, but that it would then go into a familiar vampire hunting drill that hopefully wouldn’t pale too bad in comparison to BLADE and VAMPIRES.

But it’s not that type of movie at all. The crossbow is strictly for self defense. I was even wrong about who the main character in the movie would be.

mp_daybreakersThe story takes place in something like the world Deacon Frost was trying to create in BLADE. Vampires openly run the world. Society is nocturnal, cars are equipped with UV-blocking windows and video mirrors (since vampires have no reflections). The models on billboards and the anchors on TV have fangs and glimmering eyes. Coffee comes with blood mixed in. Humans are a rare sight – they’ve either gotten turned or been captured to be farmed for blood.

Of course, you see the problem there: dwindling supply. These vampires can live pretty normal (but immortal) lives when they’re drinking blood, but if they don’t get enough (or especially if they drink blood from another vampire) they start to mutate into bat monsters. Ethan Hawke plays a corporate hematologist desperate to find a substitute for blood before the world supply runs dry in about a month. Unfortunately the stuff they’re testing is disastrous. It’s not looking good for the vampires, and therefore the human race, since vampires are about all that’s left of it.

Then one day he literally runs into some fugitive humans and, being a liberal, helps them elude authorities out of the kindness of his no longer beating heart. Next thing you know he’s pulled into a plan to save the human race, not by creating a product to sell to them but by curing vampirism.

I guess in the advertising they had a hard time expressing how smart and unique this was, because you see a bat monster or whatever you’re gonna make assumptions. But what I really like is that this is not at all like the other vampire movies. The vampires are not evil. The humans are not hunting vampires. The main character is not a warrior. He questions the ethics of the vampire establishment, but he lives as upper class with a sleek car and a fancy home and discomfort with his brother who’s in the military and brings him a bottle of pure human blood for his birthday. He’s technically a monster but he reacts to violence the way most people would. When the humans shoot an arrow into his arm he doesn’t hiss at them, he begs for them to please not to shoot at him again.

Probly my favorite scene is when one of the bat monsters storms his house and attacks. Him and his brother fight it, decapitate it, like a regular horror movie. But then the police come and file a report, call it a “home invasion,” and his co-workers ask if he’s doing all right and everything. He finds out who the monster was and feels bad about what happened. In this world they live in it’s the equivalent of if some homeless man broke into their house or something. It’s not supernatural, it’s just sad.

There’s some pretty good action and suspense here and there, but it’s really not an action movie. It’s more of a thriller within this world of vampires. There are many details to this world (for example you see kids smoking or drinking coffee, because they’re actually old) but the movie’s real good about showing us this stuff more than telling. There are some news reports that explain things but mostly the movie is content to be quiet and even subtle. It had won me over already before anything really happened, it was just showing him going to work on the subway and visually establishing what this world is like and what the rules of the vampires are (sun will kill them, they drink blood, they don’t have reflections, etc. No word on garlic or crosses, though).

This movie made me realize that you know what man, I kind of like Ethan Hawke. I mean, in movies. I don’t know the guy, and I wouldn’t have crossed Beatrix Kiddo the way he did according to the gossipologists. But I think he’s kind of an underappreciated actor. I always thought he didn’t get enough credit for being put-upon by Denzel in TRAINING DAY, and he was real good in a more showy role in BROOKLYN’S FINEST. In this one he’s good too, and kind of hilarious in the way he looks going to work wearing a spooky black hat and suit. He looks exactly at the halfway mark between businessman-who-doesn’t-get-enough-sleep and fucking-Nosferatu. You can’t really tell which one is him. Or maybe it’s both.

A buddy of mine who didn’t like DAYBREAKERS called it “dry,” which I’d say is pretty accurate and the last thing I would’ve expected. It’s that rare modern genre movie that’s not constantly trying to poke and prod you to be excited. And although it does have a sense of humor it’s not jokey or smart alecky, it maintains total seriousness. And it ignores what is expected of a vampire movie, it’s not interested in that.

My friend complained about the vampires not having increased strength or hearing or anything, they were too much just like people. But I think he’s missing the point on that because that’s the beauty of it. This is that thing I love so much, the genre movie full of cool shit that also says something about the real world. Obviously there’s a metaphor about our society being stupidly based on resources that aren’t gonna last forever. And there’s the whole deal of this corporation that he works for wanting what’s most profitable instead of what’s best for humanity.

But I think there’s so much more in here. There’s the class tension, the haves turning their backs on the have-nots, with the added convenience of them being literally dehumanized. That could be me getting cattle-prodded by the cops, but it’s not me so I’ll try not to think about that it could be me and enjoy my blood-coffee. There’s the political tension between the brothers, the way they have this family bond but have disagreements about how the world needs to work, and they end up on different sides and it pushes them apart. And it shows how sad and pointless that is.

Hawke’s character gets into some shit for just not believing in something. I guess he could be like a vegetarian in a family of cattle ranchers. His brother tries to pressure him to drink blood, but it’s against his ethics.

Of all the truths this reflects about the world we live in (which is ironic because vampires have no reflections) I think the biggest point is about the way we adjust to the most horrible shit, and it becomes normal. Here is a world where everybody has turned into bloodsuckers, and if you don’t drink enough human blood your ears will grow, and there are monsters fighting in the sewers that might’ve been your neighbors, and everybody’s used to this. If society agrees that it’s okay to be monsters then I guess it’s okay to be monsters. They just don’t think about it, they’re completely oblivious.

So, I don’t know if the world is ready for this movie yet, but I was. It’s just my speed. I’m sure everybody else will catch up eventually.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 at 1:46 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

84 Responses to “Daybreakers”

  1. Ethan Hawke is still suffering from the fallout of the star wars prequels, but personally I never saw him as much more than a better then average pretty boy actor. He’s been in good movies but is never the reason to see those movies.

  2. I liked this one too. They set a relatively realistic world up with a few broad strokes, and all the details revealed over the course of the story seemed fitting. All the thematic class parable stuff really worked for me as well. If the movie stumbles a bit in my opinion it’s the specifics of the “cure”, and then the second cure, which didn’t feel quite as thought out and logical as some of the other stuff in the movie. By no means a deal breaker though. And the second cure made for a cool set piece at the climax so I won’t complain. Anyway it’s hard for me to insist the vampire genre is played out when they keep making good ones like this.

    Ethan Hawke is underrated for sure. I literally just did a BEFORE SUNSET/BEFORE SUNRISE double feature, by myself, like a sad sack. Great movies though, if you’re a sensitive little bitch like me. I feel like calling my ex but I think I’ll just go to bed. Shit, change the subject, you know what else Hawke is good in? GATTACA.

  3. Yeah, Ethan Hawke was terrible in the STAR WARS prequels as… wait, what?

  4. This sounds like the sort of social-commentary-within-a-monster-type movie George Romero should be making. (I guess I should see Romero’s latest before I judge too harshly.)

    Also, I thought Vern and the others here might be interested in this tribute to the late Frank Frazetta’s movie poster art:
    http://somecamerunning.typepad.com/some_came_running/2010/05/frazetta.html

  5. Shit I need to not post so early in the morning, I was thinking of Ewan McGregor for some reason and Ethan deserves better then that. Still doesn’t change my opinion of Ethan as above average which is better then most but he gets upstaged the moment you put a really good actor next to him.

  6. A really cool film. I loved the techy bits, the bat-creatures, the sub-plot relationships between Ethan and his brother and that of Sam Neil and his daughter.
    Ehatn Hawk is believable as an “everyman” character forced to step up. Great ending too.

  7. I havent viewed this one yet so I only skimmed through your review in fear of ruining it for myself. From what I allowed myself to read though, the movie seems to have real depth. I’m not big on the whole Vampire sub-genre but Blade had me going and I’m hooked on True Blood. The show has a superb range of characters, is excellently written and of course with HBO, they don’t hold back.

    I enjoy Ethan Hawk and watched him on the Actors Studio with James Lipton. He came across well and he has had some excellent breaks in his carrer. I do agree Denzel stole the limelight in Training Day but when you aren’t dazzled by his oscar winning turn, watch Hawk pull off the perfect amount of niavity, vulnerability and plain dumbness only to get it all together for the climax. Without that performance,
    no oscar for Denzel.

    Special mention to “The Lost boys” actually. Love that movie.

  8. I enjoyed this, the little details of the world were fantastic, and I would have liked to spend more time just living with them in their vampire world. Maybe make it into a TV show, so we can just watch the vamps go about their daily lives somemore.

    Gotta agree with Gwai Lo though, it stumbles quite a bit with the introduction of the cure. It just seems really dumb and illogical and not as thought out as the rest of the film. Also the ending is pretty unsatisfying, I like that they don’t have them curing the whole world right there and then, but the way they do the “yes we have won the battle but not the war and will ride off into the sunset and try some more” thing felt awkward.

  9. I love this film, especially because of all the little details used to build a bigger world, like others have mentioned. One that wasn’t yet was the cool fireballs in the darkness as a vampire gets staked by arrows and bursts into flame in the attack on the human convoy, and what a great opening sequence as well.
    Also, a mate was an extra, and it was filmed locally in Brisbane, so I got play spotting games through it, but even without that extra fun, I still would’ve seen it twice. Which I did.

  10. DAYBREAKERS is the sort of movie John Carpenter used to make in the 1980s.

    Really it was quite a pleasant surprise, and because it was an actually good horror-ish movie…..it bombed.

    I mean you can almost pinpoint it seems these days if a horror flick is good or not if the horror nerds don’t flock to it in theatres.

    I guess they were disapointed that these vampires didn’t sparkle.

  11. I wanted to see this in theaters, but I never got around to it

    I’ll definitely check out the blu ray, hell maybe I’ll even buy

    also, Frank Frazetta just died? that sucks (get it? vampires, suck? )

  12. oh I forgot to mention that I think the premise is pretty fucking clever and this is coming from a guy who hated the Directors’ previous movie (Undead)

  13. man, there’s also a fair amount of awesome cinema in this movie, such as the “cure” at the end when you figure out that the cure is going to spread via a horrible massacre, almost like a reverse virus. the effect of the cure isn’t so much to transform vampires back into people, but to wipe out most of the population. the ferocity of the scene with the newly-transformed people being ripped apart by legions of starving vampires, with the implication of a global domino-effect was to me a great moment of astounding cinema.

  14. Great review of a good movie (cept only your irony line is silly). Agree with every part – I enjoyed the film a lot walking out saying 9, but the friend I went with said 5 meh. I wasn’t certain why, I had thought perhaps you have to have seen a lot of vampire films or be a horror fan to appreciate it the most, or mebbe your last line nails it. Good stuff.

  15. Yea, I liked this too.

  16. I found it kind of underwhelming. A brilliant premise and great ideas, which never turned into anything else than a by-the-numbers screenplay. Flat characters, no suspense and no real sense of their world. I did enjoy the old-school bloodbath in the end, though.

  17. dna – really? I mean you didn’t think that opening was killer though, a vampire doomed to be stuck at a kid’s age forever effectively committing suicide?

    Really?

  18. I definitely agree about the cure being the weakest part, a mild case of NEAR DARK syndrome I guess. It was kind of a clever idea but seemed a little convenient compared to everything else in the movie. As I guess any vampirism cure would have to be.

    But I also agree that the scene it sets up which has been described above was a classic and made it worth it.

  19. I enjoyed this too and thought there was some good performances in it, though if they got turned into vampires by a virus rather than a supernatural source, how come they don’t have reflections?

  20. The beginning was a cool scene, but since i read “interview with a vampire” , I`ve always had a thing with vampires commiting suicide by daylight. I have even used it in vampire-scripts several times. The best bit in Blade 2 (imo) is the end, where the vampire-girl burns to ashes while looking at the rising sun. Or Mae and Jesse holding hands and bursting into flames in their car at the end of Near Dark.

    The beginning of Daybreakers was a cool scene, but nothing I haven`t seen or before. I think Daybreakers had a lot of great ideas and concepts, but i didn`t care for the characters and the story was underdeveloped.

    Not that i need suspense and wellrounded characters to enjoy a movie, but it has to generate some sort of feeling in me to hold my attention. Daybreakers left me cold.

  21. RRA- I thought the same thing about this feeling like a John Carpenter movie. This is exactly the type of movie he would have made when he was at his best. I think that’s the main reason I liked this movie. It tries to be something slightly different while still giving you some of the gore you might expect. Very good movie imho.

  22. I also want to say that this movie came out at the worst possible time for a thinking mans horror/sci fi movie. When Twilight is making 300 million this movie didn’t stand a chance at the box office. I still don’t understand the appeal of Twilight with it’s sparkling vampires that don’t even feel like vampires at all. Of well, I guess I’ve got to deal with it until the audience grows up and realizes it was crap all along.

  23. I wasn’t really looking forward to this movie , but I think it’s better than the previous movie by the same team : Undead . In that movie they tried a different spin on the zombie apocalypse , but the movie was a little unfocused and the explanation of all the shit going on wasn’t all that clear . But I liked bits of it , like the three-way-shotgun and some of the humor.I always like good improvised weapons in my horror movies , like in Evil Dead and Phantasm. The same thing happened with Daybreakers , I like the different take on the vampire film , but they really loose it when it comes to explanation and sense of conclusion. But I can’t really complain since both this and the previous one are way more original than the average zombie/vampire movie . I hope these guys next movie is a hard scince fiction project , I want to see what they come up with .

  24. …and I like Ethan Hawke , too . He’s a good , reliable actor , I like seeing him in the movies .Just the fact that he wasn’t completely obscured by Washington in Training Days is proof that he’s a capable man. I also liked him in Gattaca and Assault on Precinct 13 . Man , that was some cast , and even if I prefer the original , I liked that Carpenter remake.

    Speaking of Carpenter , another actor that I consider always capable and I like seeing working is Sam Neil . Carpenter himself has some kind words for him in the extras of In the Mouth of Madness , and in Daybreakers he’s both creepy and really sad .

  25. CallMeKermiT – The Spierig brothers are on the DARK CRYSTAL remake. Sigh.

  26. It isn’t a remake. It’s that sequel set thousands of years in the future after the first one. Still disappointed they aren’t making originals.

  27. Oh OK. Well that’s different I guess.

  28. I’ve heard this movie is cool and I do want to see it.

    As an aside, I met Ethan Hawke’s brother once, back in the early 1990’s.

    The guy has amassed quite a resume in the years since.

    If anyone is interested, I wrote about it on my currently dormant blog.
    http://www.megacity8.blogspot.com/

  29. “I met Ethan Hawke’s brother once” would be a great pickup line.

    Mine used to be “My elbow brushed up against Natalie Portman on the sidewalk one time,” but I replaced it with “My roommate had to yell at Paul Rudd for changing the radio station too often.”

  30. Brendan and Gwai Lo : Ahh man , I really wanted these guys to do something original , since the 2 movies I’ve seen have both interesting ideas , even with some little problems here and there. At least this Dark Crystal thing is not a remake but an actual sequel , and since it’s in the future , maybe I will get to see some SF from them , but in the post before I was thinking more of a hard sf movie like Moon , but made with their personal touch . It seems that this is the way to go nowadays: pick a new director with good ideas and a personal style and pay him to remake , or work on , old properties ! Yeah , that makes sense !

    Oh , and R.I.P. Frank Frazetta . Man , he will be missed .

  31. Just saw IRON MAN 2 and was bored, bored, bored every minute the Black Widow was not on screen. A meandering, pointless, fan-wank, loud, shockingly stupid flick.

    DAYBREAKERS looked like a few million bucks went into it but suffers all the usual Coke commercial director traps: simply idea touted to be more clever than it ever is, characters showing up and/or knowing things without any rhyme or reason and, my personal favourite since THE DARK KNIGHT: characters suddenly showing up into the frame without anyone in the room having seen them coming just so they can hinder/save the protagonist. Utter shit.

    I feel so alone.

    I think I’ll go listen to some Mahler on the world’s tiniest violin…

  32. On Ethan Hawke:

    BEFORE SUNSET and SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS: the man’s got the creds – whether one *likes* his emo-nouveau style is another, unrelated matter.

  33. Glad you got a chance to see this one, Vern. It’s not quite perfect but I think its a great little film in its own way, filled with fun ideas and aethetics. I hope this gets the Carpenter treatment of becoming more respectable with time. Its got a great mix of classy and fun, even if it ends just a tad underwhelming.

    Also, the Sperig brothers previous film contains the only scene I am aware of where a man in a boat punches a zombie fish.

  34. I`m not exactly a Carpenter-fan, but you can`t seriuosly compare Daybreakers to Assault on Prescinct 13, Halloween or The Thing? Carpenter at least knew how to engage the audience, Daybreakers has nothing to offer besides some cool ideas and slick visuels. Carpenters movies might be hollow exercises in suspense and style, but he clearly tried to give his audience a scary rollercoaster-ride and a great experience. I can`t imagine that the Sperig brothers tried to do anything else than deliver the shots for a cool trailer.

  35. I missed this one in theaters and have been waiting for it to come out on DVD. I had heard good things about it and your review supports what I heard.

    I can’t say that I am a fan of Ethan Hawke, but I can’t think of a movie he is bad in. Also, didn’t he write that awesome article on Kris Kristofferson I believe you posted a link to in one of your reviews. However, I do have a hard time liking the guy considering he did Uma dirty.

  36. yeah but carpenter’s good movies all came in a time when carpenter’s good movies hadn’t been seen yet spoiling a generation of moviegoers with terrifying awesomeness. dude, nobody’s saying that Daybreakers is the new The Thing, just like nobody’s saying Sunshine is the new 2001 Space Odyssey, but in the age of Platinum Dunes and My Bloody Valentine 3d Daybreakers is a good thing because it tries to rely on a plot and atmosphere instead of jump-scares where it’s actually just a guy knocking on your car window to tell you you dropped your wallet. Spoooky.

    Also, dna, I get what you’re saying about suicide by daylight, we’ve all seen it done before, and I’ll add Godrik from True Blood and 30 Days of Night to your list, but where everywhere else it’s meant to be the tragic conclusion to the epic tale of redemption of a major character, here it’s the first scene and the little girl is nobody. This isn’t redemption, it’s just suicide, and it’s not a grand conclusive gesture, it’s just setting up a world where all the vampire shit we’re used to (including suicide by daylight) is taken for granted, it’s common-place, it’s almost throwaway. Cause Daybreakers isn’t going to waste your time with garlic, stakes in chests and daylight suicide, it gets the obvious stuff out in the first scene, and to me that’s an original way to start a movie. You just know the remake will have some goofy voiceover while the protagonist gets ready for work, prepares breakfast picks up the garlic and goes “nah, maybe not”.

  37. True story: Uma Thurman cannot cross the street on her own. She has a person in her entourage whose only job is to guide her from one side to the other. Like a vampire attempting to ford running water, Uma will stand motionless at the curb, unable to force herself to walk to the other side without this person (and no other) at her side.

    I would not have suspected this. If someone had asked me, “Hey Majestyk, can Uma Thurman cross the street on her own like a child older than seven?” I would have guessed that she probably could, unlike, say, Kim Basinger. I’m betting there are a whole bunch of things Kim Basinger can’t do without a staff member specifically hired to assist her with each individual task. I would have sworn that Uma was hardier than that, but I would have been wrong. I know this for a fact because my roommate recently worked on a commercial with her. The production company didn’t have room for Uma’s personal streetcrosser in the budget, so they made all the production vehicles park on the other side of the street (forcing the PA’s to carry heavy equipment across traffic) so that Uma’s vehicle could pull right up to the curb in front of the studio. My roommate swears that when the men on the crew found this out, you could hear the sound of a slide whistle as all of the boners in the room deflated.

    In conclusion, every Hollywood star is a neurotic alien organism that you or I could never relate to in a million years. They are dancing bears: fun to watch, but best not to get too close.

  38. I don’t think anyone is saying it’s as good as Carpenters best, but it’s at least in Vampires territory. The point is that at least they tried to do something different with it. The point that you have to think at all while you watch the movie is a good thing.

  39. Well, I enjoyed carpenters movies when i was young, but i never thought of them as terrifying awesomeness, when compared to Romero, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Polanski, Ridley Scott, Cronenberg, Argento etc. They delivered horror with originality and substance. Halloween kind of ruined all that (or maybe starwars, i dunno). Anyway, great ideas doesn`t substitute great (or even competent) directing. Daybreakers had great ideas, but didn`t use them to create any emotion, suspense or interest for me as a viewer. A vampire comitting suicide by sunrise is a great opening for a movie, but they didn`t use in the story at all. It`s just a cool idea. Having a cool idea isn`t the same as telling a good story. I`m not sure why i`m being so hard on daybreakers, I even enjoy crap like alien vs predators and Clone Wars, but I guess daybreakers seemed like a tv-movie to me. It didn`t give me a chance to “get into” the movies reality, or let me get to know the characters or fear for their lives. I call it tv-language, as opposed to cinematic language. The difference being that a movie, viewed in the comfort of a dark theater, works it it activates it`s audiences imagination. A tv-movie has to grap your attention non-stop in order to prevent you from changing the channel. It doesn`t try to engage the viewers imagination, it just entertains you. Carpenter did at least work with building up suspense, getting you interested in the characters by presenting them as mysteries, created a world as a place that not only excisted for the benefit of the plot and played with the audiences expectations. Maybe i had too high expectations regarding daybreakers because it sounded original compared to a lot of the lame stuff that dominates the box-offixes those years, but as directors and screenwriters, the Sperig brothers really dissapointed me.

    (english is not my first language, if you wonder why i sound like yoda on valium)

  40. Dna, your english seems perfectly fine so I wouldn’t worry about it. Maybe you were dissappointed because of all the hype this one was given by the geek elite, this seems like the kind of movie that I will have to revisit in a few years to see how it holds up.

  41. dna: Check out any IMDB message board and you’ll see how brutally most Americans mangle their native tongue. Your posts read like Oscar Wilde compared to them.

    It’s ironic. With that shit in Arizona all over the news, so many “real” Americans are standing up against immigrants, illegal or otherwise, who haven’t learned to speak English. Meanwhile, they’re holding protest signs that look like they were written by an Armenian third grader.

  42. dna you sound/read fine. it’s not my first language either but i reckon we can take on these other jokers anytime ;) (that’s a smiley face that means I’m winking so everybody understands that I’m only joking and that was not a threat)

  43. Sounds intriguing, but I could not stand “Undead.” Can anyone tell me if this movie operates by the same visual code (that is to say, every thing and every shot is a washed out blue)?

  44. dna – My John Carpenter comparison is apt because this isn’t high-end like AOP13 or THING or HALLOWEEN necessarily.

    No DAYBREAKERS is more an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK or THEY LIVE or PRINCE OF DARKNESS. All those are in narrative mechanics unashamed pure B-movies*, but in essence have a good decent premise behind them, which are executed good decently for the most part.

    Which I can’t say of many movies in Hollywood with bigger budgets, bigger stars, bigger campaigns, etc. Notice too that many of those Carpenter “classics” in the 80s flopped or were ignored in theatres but all became cult classics on video and cable. Especially BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Last I checked only THE FOG, EFNY, STARMAN, and CHRISTINE were bonafide strong box-office hits.

    Not saying DAYBREAKERS will necessarily do that, but that is my sneaking suspicion. At the least it deserves to be rediscovered. Of course I think the same of DOOMSDAY so whatever.

    *=Though I think of that bunch, PRINCE is weakest for relying way too much on the AOP13 formula at times. Still cool premise, cool mixing quantum physics with Catholic Theology, and oh yeah the ending.

  45. Ray Wise bid me good morning one time.

  46. I think there’s the “John Carpenter look” as well, which Dean Cundey also deserves a good share of credit for. Lots of no frills medium and wide shots, real classy-like. Lots of cold blues and crushed blacks. Qualitywise I still think we are floating somewhere between ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES here, which is quite a divide. But yeah I agree DAYBREAKERS is kinda Carpenteresque, and don’t feel that necessarily implies the quality of the Carpenter classics, as the man has had his share of junk. You know what this movie needs? A DVD cover that doesn’t suck.

  47. Mr. Majestyk, that is to bad about Uma, but I am not completely surprised. I always figured she had to be somewhat messed up, she was romantically involved with QT at one point. The guy is a great director but he seems like kind of a nut.

    Dna, as far a John Carpenter goes, I think he is one of the most underrated directors out there. I would put him in the category with the directors you mentioned. Sure he has his misses, but name a director that doesn’t and even many of his misses are fun (I’m looking at you Vampires). I seem to remember him talking about how most of his movies really are westerns at heart. AOP13, Escape From NY & LA, Big Trouble Little China, Vampires, Ghosts Of Mars are all re-imagined westerns. Just like you can see how the films of the 70’s influenced QT, if you watch enough John Ford westerns you can see how much they influenced Carpenter. He is a great visual story teller (and a bad ass musician for that matter). You could use the ice cream truck sequence from AOP13 to teach a class on effective film making.

  48. Gwai Lo, you bring up a good point about the lame DVD cover for this movie. For sometime now I have wanted to create a fan art site where you could upload and download custom fan art DVD and Blu Ray covers. I guess I just lack the Know how to get something like that up and running.

    Does anyone else like the idea or know if something like that already exists?

  49. Mr. Majestyk : That’s my opinion , too . Sometimes I just don’t understand movie stars and their behaviour . I mean most of the the time , when I listed to a Robert Downey Jr. interview I cannot understand half of the shit he’s talking about. Now think about hanging out with
    Nick Cage , cool guy for sure , but are you absolutely sure he’s not going to bite you in a minute ?

  50. Charles : Wow , I had the same idea a while back . I wanted to create a site with custom covers for VHS and DVD for movies recorded from TV . My idea was this : two separate sections , colored and black and white ( I figured , if you’re going to print it , it’s a good idea to offer a black and white alternative , so you don’t use all your ink.) , for every movie.I know I used to draw my covers when I was a child , like Predator 2 and Terminator . I also wanted to have a section with the unscaled , original images to use as posters . That’s a good idea , and it’s fitting that we’re talking about this in the same comments section with our R.I.P. messages for Frazetta . I think there’s a lot of artists out there with fantastic custom or anniversary movie posters , but I don’t think there’s a dedicated site. The only problem , in my case , is that I’m really only an amateur artist .

  51. Ethan Hawke kinda annoys me mostly because he keeps taking these cop roles. Hawke is nothing like a real cop. Guys like Mark Walhberg and Matt Dillon are good at playing cops like the glorified bouncers they usually are in real life. Hawke isn’t like a movie cop either. He doesn’t have that likeable charismatic machismo of a Bruce Willis or a Clint Eastwood. Yet he’s also not really offbeat enough to be interesting playing a cop like Nic Cage in Badder Lieutenant.

    He’s just a guy who shouldn’t play cops.

    Same kinda goes for Leo Dicaprio.

  52. Also, Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet should have got him a jail sentence.

    The image of Hamlet’s father’s ghost emerging from a Pepsi machine is still one of those things I try to wash out of my eyes.

  53. I think it needs to be said that Sam Neill owns this movie. He’s just great – a perfect mix of charisma and menace, with a very light sympathetic touch as well. Like all great B movies, this one gets a big part of its gravitas from a classic actor taking the role just seriously enough to be awesome.

  54. dna, my fellow foreigner, trust me, this crowd is made of fine american gentlemen, who make his country proud. They reflect the excelency of the webmaster himself, the Venerable Vern. This is not ass kissing, this is the truth.

    I’m portuguese myself, and thus, english is my second language. And never, ever, i was criticised by that. In fact, many have picked up quite quickly that i’m a foreigner, due to my english grammar mistakes. This is not AINT IT COOL NEWS, filled to the grills with the worst kind of “americans”, too quick to trash you if you make mistakes in english,a nd worst, you you declare yourself a foreigner, then they will bash you even futher down because you comited the sin of being born elsewhere and how dare you not to be letter perfect to the english language, even if it’s your second language and completly different for your native. While themselves write posts in very poor english.

    My friend, this is a good crowd. This guys are quality. This place is great. I hope you have as much fun here as I do.

  55. Asimov– flattery will get you everywhere, my dear. Glad to have you aboard from abroad.

  56. Mr. Subtlety, i knew it would do the trick. And thanks for the welcome.

  57. Man, and that’s coming from Asimov, one of the more hostile regulars. What’s next? AU informs us that he’s thought it over and decided that we’re all not gay, except the ones who are, and that’s okay with him?

    This place really is a lovefest. World peace starts here. Get in on the ground floor.

  58. (By the way, no offense intended, Asimov. It’s good to have as many different viewpoints as possible so we’re not just all sitting around in a big circle jerk. Sometimes somebody’s gotta be the angry guy.)

  59. Agreed, but may we all be wary of the all-angry guy circle jerk, a la AICN. Nothing wrong with peace and love.

  60. Yeah, AICN is just a big race to see who can hate something first. You’re the winner if you hated the early work of the writer whose comic book a new movie that isn’t even out yet was based on.

  61. which is weird, because Harry is such a big slobbery puppy dog of optimism and unabashed good feelings. Why does he draw such a rough crowd? Never figured that one out.

  62. I think some of it is a reaction to Harry’s optimism. They treat him like they treat George Lucas: He was once their hero, but now they despise everything he stands for, even though they continue to consume his work with a voracious appetite. I mean, Harry IS an atrocious writer whose opinion on a film can generally not be trusted, but who cares? Stop reading his shit if it pisses you off so much. But they keep coming back to complain some more. It’s very troubling.

  63. I mean, Vern himself has personally stocked the Interwebs with literally DOZENS of other articles to read. Why keep reading something you hate so much?

  64. Mr. M – Well I quit seriously reading AICN since 2006, after that whole X3 debacle. But enough of old history. Hell the only consistent reason I might go there is to read new Vern reviews.

    That’s it.

  65. “somebody’s gotta be the angry guy”

    That’s me alright.

  66. I do think Harry sets the tone for his website and the tone is ‘absurd hyberbole’ whether that be good or bad.

    The problem being with stuff like this recent Kick-Ass. I saw it and it was just an average movie. I even thought it was better than most superhero movies I see, although I don’t really like that genre much anyway. But at first I had this reaction in my gut of wanting to hate it because it had been inflated so big by these websites, but when I put that hype out of my mind I was able to give it its fair shake and realize I had just seen something somewhat amusing and that my initial feeling of outrage was not at the filmmakers but at the websites for overselling it.

  67. This is a film I wasn’t even considering considering. But now I am.

    I guess I quit reading AICN even before 2006, because I don’t know what the “X3 debacle” was. Do I want to?

  68. I just saw DAYBREAKERS, and Vern is right, damn good movie.

    If there was any justice in this world, this would be the movie that would had, and should had, the commercial sucess of that TWILIGTH bullshit.

    Dudes, trust Vern, this is good stuff.

  69. I liked KICK ASS. There was a line in the movie that made me and my pals laugh like hell: “With no powers, there’s no responsability”. We almost fell to the floor laughing. I had a good time with KICK ASS. I enjoyed it. I liked DAYBREAKERS better, though.

  70. Yeah I’m curious about what the “X3” debacle was myself. I know all about the Wolverine debacle(RIP Kurt Lockwood) but the X3 I’ve never heard of. And I’m aware of most debacles.

  71. One Guy From Andromeda

    May 13th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    sounds right down my alley, i’ll give it a whirl for sure!

  72. odo19, X-MEN 3 is the kind of movie that can be best described in this 3 words: PIECE OF SHIT.

  73. I really enjoyed this. Exciting, smart, stylish, very well directed and written. Excellent acting all around, and well staged action scenes.

    As for Carpenter comparison, I don’t really see any similarities except that this is an elevated B-movie, like Carpenter’s best work. It’s also better than anything Carpenter has made in over 25 years.

    There were some minor plot issues – For example when that young woman gets killed in a dramatic scene at the end of act 2, I was actually unsure whether it was actually her, or some other young woman who was getting killed to foreshadow what might happen for the more important young woman. It felt as if they skipped one scene with here, making me at least somewhat confused for a while.

    And there is the issue of 2nd cure… I think many audiences might miss the fact that the 2nd cure can only exist after the 1st cure is already in the game. You can receive the 2nd cure only from a person who has been changed by the 1st cure, or who is part of the 1st cure “lineage”.

    By the way, I think the 1st cure was very clever. Kinda obvious concept when you think about it afterwards, but I don’t think anyone has ever used it before. Made a lot of sense to me, and also felt logical why nobody had figured out the cure before in the world of the film. No vampire would ever want to try test particular cure willingly.

    I thought Undead was quite horrible, so this was a huge step up for Spierig brothers. Now I’m very interested to see what they will do with Dark Crystal.

  74. probly the most far-fetched thing in this movie is Chrysler still existing in 2019

  75. Anaru, i think the moie is set one or two decades after 2019. If i understood this correctly, 2019 was the year the plague went global, and is the Vampires World’s Year Zero.

  76. Jareth Cutestory

    May 16th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Frank & odo: From what I remember, the AICN guys really liked the second X-MEN movie, and they considered Singer jumping ship to make a SUPERMAN movie some sort of betrayal, which predisposed them to dislike the third X-MEN. Then Ratner was given X-MEN and they collectively flipped out. To this day they unleash a shitstorm of verbal fury whenever Ratner, X-MEN 1-3, Wolverine, Singer or SUPERMAN RETURNS are mentioned.

    Now I can see why people might be disappointed with the third X-MEN, but I pretty much agree with Vern’s review on that one, both in terms of the relative quality of the film and in terms of the whole geek blow-out over the director. The second and third paragraphs of Vern’s review are classic.

    I actually think X-MEN 3 is better than WATCHMEN and KICK ASS, and about as good as SPIDERMAN, but that’s not saying much because I’m not a big fan of any of these movies.

  77. Jareth Cutestory – The “debacle” I was refering to was Moriarty’s X3 review. Mini-rant time.

    Some background to explain that debacle: If you can ever dig up his review, he writes up a whole laundry list of criticisms (some legit, some nerd nitpicking)…then turns right around (without much explaination) and says it was still worth seeing. Weird, and not one of his better days.

    Around this same time, there was stories coming out that alot of those AICN guys like Harry and Mori were knocking on the door of Hollywood. I mean fine whatever, but one of the places Mori allegedly was “talking”* to was Fox. And X3 was a Fox release.

    And well, me as QTN at the time…I called him out at the Talkbacks. Mori banned me obviously, but also deleted my whole account, ranging back some 5-6 years. Which meant all those postings were erased from the records. And top of that, he wrote (if I remember right) a lengthy pissy-fueled fuck you diatribe at me personally.

    Now look me getting banned, maybe I deserved that. I was acting off hearsay and nothing substantial, plus those AICN guys’ notorious bragging of their “connections” and hanging out with directors and shit. Or in another words how a typical major news story is reported these days.

    But his sheer overreaction, I wonder if maybe I was hitting too close to home? I thought X3 was lame, Vern liked it, well OK but at least I trust Vern. Vern is honest, he doesn’t play these games. I don’t believe he likes them either.

    But that whole “debacle” (in my eyes) was when I quit visiting AICN on a regular basis, quit reading or taking most of the AICN crew’s opinions (almost Armando White-legitimate at this rate), I quit AICN. Oh sure I still read Foywonder and Vern, but they’re the exceptions.

    Perhaps I should have known better years earlier, like in 2003 as a joke me and a buddy wrote up a fake “advanced screening” review of MATRIX RELOADED, weeks before it came out. We bullshit as much as we could, clobber in the whispered content already reported elsewhere, and submitted it to AICN under “QTN.” And they published it! We were amazed, honored, and horrified.

    Now if that happened once, how many times has that happened before or since, maybe even on a regular basis? Or for that matter, a year afterwards my buddy also took weeks to “make” contact with Moriarty in the chat room, buttering him up about an exclusive scoop about the forever development-hell Superman picture. Bit by bit.

    Yeah M. Night Shymalan (pre-VILLAGE) is going to direct, and his pals Bruce Willis and Osment were playing sideparts of Pa Kent and Jimmy Olsen. But my pal’s biggest reveal came at the end of this prank. Shymalan planning a shocking, Earth shattering twist….SPOILER!!! SPOILER!!!…..Superman turns out, is an alien.

    Mori wasn’t exactly amused, BANNED. Of course my pal might be horeshitting me, but the whole idea makes me laugh not for the ridiculous premise, but in 2004….well, serious geeks (even self-stylized “journalists”) didn’t dismiss outright the idea of Shymalan tackling Superman. In fact CHUD reported a similar connection, which went nowhere. This back in the Brent Ratner/Superman Ninja days.

    *=Whatever that actually means, like Fox seriously were looking at a script pitch at his, or he called them and they told him to piss off. If they ever bothered to take his calls, I don’t know.

  78. Well, not to defend whatever Moriarty did there RRA, because I don’t know anything about it. But I do think that he is the guy who has turned all nerds against Tom Rothman and Fox. Without his many articles about it I know I personally would have no idea who that was. As you know I feel uncomfortable about all the buddy–buddy stuff between reviewers and filmatists and publicists and everything, but I do think that’s one case where Moriarty clearly buried any chance at professional work with Fox by relentlessly shitting all over their executives in detail and by name for years. I think he even had a story about Rothman or somebody saying some dickish thing about “fans” while taking a piss in a public restroom.

    But I know he has lost his cool with talkbackers some times and I can see why that would turn you off against them. I try not to do it myself although I did recently get into it with some guy who referred to my book as being by “some douche.”

  79. Vern – You’re right, I forgot about the Rothman situation so there you go. What was I thinking?

  80. Yeah I’m curious about what the “X3” debacle was myself. I know all about the Wolverine debacle(RIP Kurt Lockwood) but the X3 I’ve never heard of. And I’m aware of most debacles.

  81. The original Paul

    November 29th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    RRA – you were banned from AICN? Damn, dude, that takes some doing.

    And I gotta say, I don’t think anybody can be totally “objective” when it comes to criticism, not even Vern. Oddly the reviews he’s been accused of having an “axe to grind” in, I got no problems with – “Transformers” I certainly agreed with, it really was that bad. And as for “X3”, well, Vern and I disagree on that one, it ain’t a big deal.

    I did wonder, though, whether a little anti-talkbacker fervor might possibly have made Vern harder on “Kick-Ass” than it deserved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking Vern’s integrity AT ALL here, but I did wonder whether he was perhaps a little predisposed to see the negative aspects of films that had undergone a “love-in” session on AICN. (For the record I didn’t think “Kick-Ass” was particularly great, but neither did I think it was anything as bad as Vern’s review made it out to be.) Maybe “Hatchet” – which, again, I completely agree with Vern on – made him a little too cynical when it came to similarly-reviewed films on AICN.

    Then again, I’ve been reconsidering the amount of vitriol I threw at “Buried” recently, given how many good reviews it’s got (although if I had to choose a definition of temporary hell, spending two hours in a coffin with an unlikeable arsehole for no discernible reason would probably be way up there).

  82. Nah, getting banned from AICN is easy. Just disagree with Herc about anything. Got me five bannings within two weeks last years (and three bannings weren’t even in Coaxial talkbacks).
    And these days I hardly even read talkbacks anymore, but that’s the fault of the talkbackers. (Viva the zone, the one place at AICN, where you can have a reasonable conversation!)

  83. Finally caught this, and loved it. I agree the ending/solution is pretty underwhelming and not as well thought out as the rest of the movie, but there’s plenty to love – great acting, great cinematography, cool effects and action scenes. That ambush scene with the exploding soldiers in the field is brilliant.

    I must admit unlike alot of guys here I didn’t think of John Carpenter once while watching this. (There’s a superficial similarity to the social commentary in They Live, but that’s about it) I think one reason is that, let’s be honest – Carpenter would have made Willem Defoe’s character the lead. He would act badass, have a few cool lines, and Kurt Russell would play him. He’d be a fun character, and I wouldn’t be able to relate to him at all the way I could to a bleeding-heart liberal corporate drone.

    And that’s the the genius of the movie is that we CAN relate to all the characters – even Sam Neill’s “Big Bad” character is sympathetic. The real “villain” is the system – the apathy and nonchalance as society turns a blind eye to all this horrible shit around them, the selfish “me first” attitude, and the all-too-human greed that drives the corporations that put profit over helping humanity. I don’t care if it’s an obvious or heavy-handed parallel to our society- it’s powerful stuff and way more than you’d expect to get in a movie like this. (Sorry I sound like a shill but this movie did really affect me deeply somehow.)

    **Oh and also – I like how the poster/picture above has Isabel Lucas’ name above the credits when she’s a pretty minor part, while Claudia Karvan gets the shaft while she’s the female lead. I guess they thought Lucas might have some fanbase as the character you sorta forgot was in Transformers 2 or something?

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