Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
Director : Kevin Munroe
Screenplay : Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer (based on the comic book series Dylan Dog created by Tiziano Sclavi)
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 2011
Stars : Brandon Routh (Dylan Dog), Anita Briem (Elizabeth), Sam Huntington (Marcus), Peter Stormare (Gabriel), Taye Diggs (Vargas), Kurt Angle (Wolfgang), Brian Steele (Tatooed Zombie), Kimberly Whalen (Kelly), Courtney J. Clark (Ally), Ashlynn Ross (Werewolf), Courtney Shay Young (Trueblood Vampire), Randal Reeder (Bob the Mechanic), Ada Michelle Loridans (Zombie Mall Rat)
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is based on the cultish Italian comic book series that was created back in 1986 by artist and novelist Tiziano Sclavi. The comic has been published consistently for some 25 years now in multiple countries, although the vast majority of the mainstream American movie audience, even those whose tastes lean more toward The Evil Dead than The King’s Speech, will likely have at best a passing familiarity with the characters and concepts. Clearly, that is what screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (who also penned the upcoming Conan the Barbarian reboot) were banking on, as they enacted numerous changes that have apparently not gone down well with Italian audiences who are more familiar with the source material. If Dylan Dog were a better movie, those changes might be more forgivable, but as is it is a fairly mediocre action-horror-comedy that will likely not win any new admirers and will only incense long-time fans of the series.
The character of Dylan Dog, a paranormal gumshoe who now walks the dark streets of New Orleans instead of London, was initially modeled on actor Rupert Everett (who, interestingly enough, in Michele Soavi’s cult favorite Dellamorte Dellamore played Francesco Dellamorte, a character who first appeared in an early issue of Dylan Dog--but I digress). Thus, the casting of Brandon Routh, still best known for his role as the Man of Steel in Bryan Singer’s much maligned Superman Returns (2006), may strike some as a bit odd, although his performance actually works quite well in the film, even if he deviates substantially from the comic series’ emphasis on angst and ennui. Routh’s Dylan Dog is a seen-it-all, noir-ish outsider whose previous occupation involved maintaining the peace among all the vampires, werewolves, and zombies that live just under the noses of the human race, with the majority of them congregating in New Orleans.
After the death of his girlfriend, Dylan swore off all involvement with the supernatural and instead focused on the investigation of cheating spouses and insurance fraud. He is drawn back into his old line of work when he is hired by Elizabeth (Anita Briem), whose father, a wealthy importer, was apparently murdered by a werewolf. Dylan and his chatty assistant Marcus (Sam Huntington), who early in the film is killed and then arises as a rather unwilling member of the living dead, investigate the murder and discover that it all points back to the search for a long-missing artifact known as “The Heart of Belial,” which can unleash a powerful demon.
There’s a lot of plot to wade through, and while Dylan’s dry voice-over narration effectively moves us from scene to scene, the story never really takes hold. Rather, the film has the overriding sense of going through the motions, with only a few moments of genuinely effective humor (most of which involve Marcus, who strains mightily for much more) to jolt some life into it. Much of the casting is quite good, including Taye Diggs as a swarthy vampire leader who runs a nightclub that sells vampire blood to humans as a jacked-up drug, and the special effects are convincing enough, but Dylan Dog: Dead of Night never explodes with the sense of crackling, twisted fun for which it is clearly striving.
Copyright ©2011 James Kendrick
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