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Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Blu-ray Review

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011) movie poster Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

US Theatrical Release: April 29, 2011 / Running Time: 108 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Kevin Munroe / Writers: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer (screenplay); Tiziano Sclavi (Dylan Dog comic series)

Cast: Brandon Routh (Dylan Dog), Sam Huntington (Marcus Adams), Anita Briem (Elizabeth Ryan), Taye Diggs (Vargas), Kurt Angle (Wolfgang), Peter Stormare (Gabriel), Kent Jude Bernard (Pale Teen/Slake), Mitchell Whitfield (Cecil), Michael Cotter (Phil), Laura Spencer (Zoe), James Hιbert (Lorca), Dan Braverman (Big Al), Marco St. John (Borelli), Brian Steele (Tattooed Zombie/Belial)

Buy Dylan Dog: Dead of Night from Amazon.com: Blu-ray • DVD • Instant Video

Loosely based on a 25-year-old line of Italian horror comics, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night tells the story of Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh, Superman Returns' Man of Steel).
Until recently, Dylan was the human liaison to monsters that secretly live among us: vampires, werewolves, zombies, and the like. Now, he's just an old-fashioned New Orleans private eye dabbling mostly in spousal infidelity investigations.

After a young woman (Journey to the Center of the Earth's Anita Briem) consults him to look into her father's apparent murder by werewolf, Dylan reluctantly gets pulled back into dealing with his old supernatural frienemies. Dylan's assistant Marcus (Sam Huntington, essentially reprising his turn as Routh's Jimmy Olsen) accompanies him, adjusting not only to the presence of heretofore unknown beasts but his own slow transformation into a zombie, as another victim of a fatal werewolf bite.

While acclimating his friend into undeath with an acquired replacement arm, Dylan tries to make sense of the something big going down, which involves a powerful vampire (Taye Diggs), a family of werewolves (headed by Peter Stormare), and an elusive and all-important blood-filled crucifix.

Paranormal private eye Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) blocks vampire-threatening sunlight with his body while his undead assistant Marcus (Sam Huntington) looks on.

That plot probably sounds like a bunch of malarkey to you. I had difficulty even synopsizing it. I'm pretty sure that screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, half of Sahara's credited scribes, struggled to make sense of it too. That much is apparent from all the shots that relay information without us seeing character's mouths moving. Some of it emerges in Dylan's voiceover narration, which feels much too clunky and random to have been executed as conceived. The design seems like a choice befitting noir aspirations (which any movie with a private eye protagonist must have), but Dylan Dog can't make up its mind as to what it wants to be.

Thematically, it seems to subscribe to the notion that vampires and werewolves are popular these days, a theory unsupported by anything outside The Twilight Saga. Rather than teen love triangles and contrasting torsos, though, Dylan Dog opts for the darkness its subtitle suggests. There is not enough darkness to the fang-baring jump scares, sun-singed vampires, and limb ripping to earn more than a hard PG-13 rating. Some of it is played for laughs, particularly Marcus coming to terms with eating worms and being fitted with a married black man's tattooed arm. But the movie wants to have things both ways; it wants to send up macabre lore and also take its nonsensical tale of vampire-werewolf-monster hunter relations utterly seriously, exploring the latter with uninvolving battles and a climax it's tough to even sort of care about.

A good amount of blame must be placed on Brandon Routh, who makes for a most uncompelling hero here. Dylan Dog is obviously supposed to be the straight man to Marcus and his nonchalant attitude is meant to amuse. But Routh plays it too straight, rendering the title character highly bland and its exploits flavorless. I don't think it's a matter of Routh not trying; on the contrary, he seems to be trying too hard to make Dylan comically unexcitable. The actor has good reason to give it his all; his post-Superman career has been stunningly lifeless and this could very well be his last high-profile shot to hang onto leading man status. Routh isn't alone at fault for Superman Returns being regrettably mediocre and, with the right material (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), he's proven effective. But I can't think of any actor for whom Dylan Dog's material would be considered right.

Of all the careers set back by this, I most lament Sam Huntington's, because he's fairly likable here and elsewhere but just can't seem to pick a hit. At least he has Syfy's "Being Human", which seems thematically comparable to this movie but with a much warmer reception.

Having journeyed to the center of the Earth and back, Anita Biem ain't 'fraid of no vampires and zombies. Undead assistant Marcus (Sam Huntington), a Groucho Marx double in the comic books, looks at his new replacement arm.

It'd be tough to get a much cooler reception than Dylan Dog did. The film earned just one positive review out of 32 logged at Rotten Tomatoes, scoring it a lowly 3% on the infamous Tomatometer. That might be okay if it wasn't followed by widespread public disinterest.
One can't fault Freestyle Releasing any more easily than they can identify them as the distributor. It's unclear what, if any, role the small, independent studio had, but considerable money was spent marketing the film and getting it into nearly 900 theaters.

And yet, Dylan Dog still became one of the year's biggest and most foreseeable flops, opening in 18th place with a measly $755 thousand (that breaks down to just $863 per theater), dropping an astounding 87% its second weekend, and finishing up with a pitiful $1.19 million domestic gross. While I don't think Routh's involvement greatly discouraged attendance (the unknown source and unappealing design needed no help there), the numbers do deflate any case for Routh being an audience draw. And should you think that the movie had a budget small enough for those returns to be passable, the accepted production estimate is a full $20 M. There are bigger films that lost more money this year (Mars Needs Moms, Green Lantern, Priest, Sucker Punch, Your Highness), but you'll have to look long and hard to find any movie in history that fared as poorly in terms of return on investment.

Freestyle's go-to video distributor, 20th Century Fox, released Dylan Dog to Blu-ray and DVD yesterday. We look at the former here.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $16.99 (reduced from $29.99)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.99 $14.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Dylan Dog looks pretty good in the Blu-ray's dark and stylized 2.35:1 transfer. The picture retains a small bit of grain and is otherwise clean and sharp. Visually, this isn't a film you'd leap to show off, but the Blu-ray cannot be blamed for that. A 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is the disc's only soundtrack. It too is more than adequate, doing a nice job of distributing atmosphere and effects.
The voiceover narration does sound a tad weird, nearly blending in with the dialogue at times and having a strange bassy sound to it at others. I'm willing to chalk that up as just another feature of a sloppy production and no fault of the Blu-ray's authoring.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The disc opens with trailers for Season of the Witch and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": "Season Eight", and a promo for digital copies. That is it for bonus features, making Dylan Dog the most barren home video of a new wide release movie in recent memory. For a film so heavily marketed, you'd at least think some promotional extras could have easily been scrounged up, like a trailer. Fox doesn't even extend its standard digital copy treatment to this, but at least the list price is kept down, with the Blu-ray carrying a standard DVD SRP and the DVD priced like a catalog title.

The menu and packaging are both standard issue, with the former running smoke atop routine clips and the slim blue case being ecologically cut and absent of inserts. The disc supports both bookmarks and resuming.

Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) has a talk with distraught werewolf patriarch Gabriel (Peter Stormare). Powerful vampire club owner Vargas (Taye Diggs) shows attitude as he chats with Dylan.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I remember parts of Dylan Dog working okay, but looking back at the whole, I'm at a loss to cite a single one. To receive the critical drubbing that this got and not connect strongly with anyone, a movie needs to do almost nothing right. And though it's tremendously forgettable, I will remember that Dylan Dog did achieve that. There will be worse films this year that elicit stronger condemnation from critics and moviegoers, but this is as good a bet as any for universal disapproval.

As if the icy reviews and disastrous box office performance weren't enough to keep audiences away, Fox adds a complete void of bonus features. To complain about that is to recall the punchline of one of Woody Allen's most memorable Annie Hall jokes ("and such small portions"), but the absence of deleted scenes (of which there must be many) and background information on the Italian comic series obscure to American audiences should discourage repeat viewings and purchases. I can think of no reason to give this movie any of your time.

Buy Dylan Dog: Dead of Night from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New: The Reef • Red Riding Hood • The Big Bang • Kiss Me Deadly • Take Me Home Tonight
Brandon Routh: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World | Sam Huntington: Jungle 2 Jungle | Anita Briem: Journey to the Center of the Earth
Taye Diggs: Chicago | Peter Stormare: The Brothers Grimm | Directed by Kevin Munroe: TMNT
Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse • Ugly Americans: Volume One • Zombieland • 28 Weeks Later • Teen Wolf
Critically-Drubbed Flops Adapted from Comic Books: The Spirit

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Reviewed July 27, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Hyde Park Entertainment, Platinum Studios, Omnilab Media, Freestyle Releasing, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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