Published on January 5th, 2010 | by Greg0
Daybreakers Out in Theaters; Extract on Blu-ray
I’m starting off my article with a small spoiler, so if you’d like to be surprised on any and all plot developments of Daybreakers, the new vampire flick from the makers of Undead, please read no further. Willem Dafoe’s character doesn’t die. Dafoe plays a supporting role in Daybreakers as a human with an old-timey, story-telling way of speaking named “Lionel Cormac”, though his friends call him “Elvis”. He’s the kind of third wheel that plots will usually knock off with a heart-wrenching scene of self sacrifice, but somehow Elvis makes it through the movie without such a scene. It’s unfortunate, however, because about 5 minutes after his introduction, you’ll really wish he didn’t.
Following on the heels of a renewed interest in the subject and right in between Twilights 2 and 3, Daybreakers couldn’t have found a better time to be released. It’s part science fiction, part horror and in the vein of “I Am Legend” which makes vampirism a contagious disease. Unlike “I Am Legend”, the vampires have not only retained their cognitive ability, they’ve also taken over the world and are running it quite efficiently. Ethan Hawke plays the lead as a chain-smoking vampire scientist who is working on creating a substitute to human blood when he encounters a group of humans that say they’ve found the cure to vampirism.
The first third of the movie was excellent. They set up the mythology, the characters, the political climate. It starts with a vampire suicide and moves to a large corporate office with a suitable corporate villain. Macabre images — vampire children smoking, humans in a Geigeresque blood farm, bat-like vampires living under the subway — set a very dark tone. But then somehow the introduction of humans marks the downfall of the movie. Elvis shows up wielding a crossbow and spouting philosophical monologues with intense pep and suddenly I was left wondering who invited the homicidal Taylor Swift to the emo concert.
The rest of the movie starts to unravel, from unnecessary plots to unnecessary killings. I was hoping for a film along the lines of Equilibrium or Children of Men — small budgeted science fiction with both action and depth. Instead it was just popcorn.
This movie was brimming with unrealized potential. Given the complicated twist of having both a cure to vampirism and a substitute for blood, any number of difficult decisions and solutions could have popped up to underlie the gray morality of the situation. None of that happened, however, and we were instead left with an allegory of corporate evil destroying the human race and the writer killing off anyone who wasn’t morally pure enough to want to be human.
It was still fun to watch and even popcorn has its place, but the writers seemed to be under the misimpression that the audience was on the side of the protagonists and, say, might miss characters like Elvis if they suffered the same graphically gory deaths as most everyone in this movie seems to. Alas, Elvis lived.
Daybreakers will be released to movie theaters January 8, 2010. And to preface another disappointment, the extremely appropriate song in the trailer from Placebo did not appear to be in the movie.
Mike Judge’s latest film Extract is now out on Blu-ray. Set in a small town in a small extract plant, boss and owner Joel (played by Jason Bateman) is having difficulties with distant wife, his employees, his life, and the very future of his company. When an employee is accidentally injured on the job, a company-wrecking lawsuit is on the table and a sexy con artist played by Mila Kunis shows up on the scene. Hilarity promptly ensues and spirals out of control in typical Judge fashion, ending with a sweet and all-too-real struggle for happiness.
Previously we reviewed Extract on our site and now the Blu-ray version is out with bonus features. The Blu-ray version includes several extended scenes, one deleted scene and a making of labeled “Mike Judge’s Secret Recipes”. All three items were a little light on entertainment and didn’t offer much more insight into the movie or Mike Judge himself.
Extract’s low-budget production values don’t make it a wonderful candidate to take advantage of the Blu-ray format in either audio or video. But the film’s emphasis isn’t on the graphics or the sound effects. Its needs are simply a good format for the character-driven storyline and dialogue.
Extract retails for $39.99 and is available on Amazon for about $25.