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STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
A private dick that deals in matters of the supernatural.
Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Peter Stormare, Taye Diggs, Anita Briem
Based on the Italian comic created by Tiziano Sclavi, Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) is at the start of the film an ex-paranormal investigator who has been firmly out of the business for awhile. As with most guys who try to leave behind an old life filled with zombies, vampires, and werewolves, things are going to come back and bite you in the ass if you’re not careful. Literally. So when something happens to his friend and partner, Marcus, he decides to get back into action by helping a woman (Anita Briem) take down a vampire leader played by Taye Diggs, who seems bent on destroying everything. A warning: you may utter the phrase “What in the name of Miguel Ferrer is Kurt Angle doing in this movie?” several times.
In a channeling of John Constantine, Hellboy, and a little inspiration from Dellamorte Dellamore, the seeds of Dylan Dog are firmly planted. There’s even a little bit of The Frighteners in there tonally. The character was created in 1986 by Italian comic book author Tiziano Sclavi and predates all of those inspirations, but the film is a little less inspired and original than I’m sure the comic was when it was first released. Hellblazer had not already been a firmly established comic (and was 2 years or so away from inception when this Dog was created) and without knowing too much about the Dylan Dog comic, the similarities are right out in the open. A character who acts as a sort of mediator for the various warring supernatural factions in the underworld, chosen by those factions long ago to step in and keep the peace when things get a little out of hand. But also, like Dylan Dog, someone who dispatches those who are singularly wreaking havoc on innocent people. How old Dylan Dog is, exactly, is unknown, but he has apparently been doing this for awhile. We know that he wiped out an entire elder vampire clan, rivals to now-head vampire Vargas (Taye Diggs), and that it was implied to have happened a long time ago, but we don’t know exactly when. The film is a little light on the backstory and really just expects us to make it up as we see fit. But he’s basically here to tell us that yes, the monsters you’ve seen in movies do exist. Demons, zombies, werewolves….Angelina Jolie. All real.
The plot, with noir-ish narration by Routh, concerns Dylan getting back into the game after his friend Marcus is murdered. After first dismissing a case in which a woman’s father was murdered, he then decides to don his signature red shirt, black jacket, and blue jeans and help her, since helping her may in fact help him figure out who killed his friend. He goes to speak with the head of a werewolf clan (Peter Stormare) possibly being linked to the murder of the woman’s father and is eventually tangling with Vargas.
Brandon Routh, who I believe still deserves to be a major movie star, does his best with what he’s got. As does his partner, Marcus (Sam Huntington), who is comic relief by definition. Within minutes of the film beginning, he dies and then comes back to life. Throughout the film he’s coping with being a zombie, not exactly thrilled with the fact that he’ll never be able to eat real food again without getting sick. Worms and other disgusting stuff is what a zombie eats if that zombie doesn’t want to start craving human flesh. The rules for being a zombie in the world of Dylan Dog are a little different than I’m used to. Zombies will just rot, apparently, if they don’t eat. Interesting. I always thought brains and human flesh were the only parts of a balanced zombie diet. The zombie food pyramid needs a little more consulting by me, apparently. Taye Diggs does an alright job as Vargas even if his line delivery is a little weak at times, but really, Routh is the best reason to watch this film.
What this really is, is more of a B-movie than anything else. Everything feels ultimately very low budget, especially where creature designs are concerned. There’s an early scene in which a werewolf transforms and it’s a classic “one second the camera is on him, the next he’s wearing a mask” type of deal with a little bit of CG transforming thrown in. I don’t think it’d be a reach to find a better werewolf mask at your local Halloween store. There’s also a scene in a sort of chop shop for zombies looking for replacement limbs, and the set that was used is very bland and under-decorated. It’s supposed to look makeshift and low-key, but it just comes off as uninteresting in design. It’s supposed to be funny, of course, that Marcus becomes fitted with a black arm because that’s all that was available in this shop. But really it’s a testament to the often lame humor that this film displays.
It’s not a great film, and it’s not an outright bad film. It’s in that grey area in-between, in which it’s a film I can recommend if you want to watch something occasionally funny and goofy with a fairly neat final creature fight. Ultimately, it’s a shame more love was not bestowed upon what seems like truly excellent source material. In the end, it plays like a giant episode of Buffy or Supernatural or some other genre show. And not one of the best. But that being said, maybe someone ought to turn this into a TV series, where it might get to shine.
The only thing to comment on is the transfer, which is not the greatest Blu I’ve seen but still remains decent. Sadly, no special features. And I doubt that this is going to warrant a double-dip, so hardcore fans of the film may be out of luck.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars