Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
The Spierig Brothers
What's it about
Vampires have taken over the earth. Those remaining humans who did not want to be turned to vampires are being farmed for their blood, or they're on the run as fugitives. Unfortunately for the vampires, their supply of human blood is running out. There's a big pharmaceutical company though that is working on a 'blood substitute', and it doesn't seem to be working well- this loss of blood is causing vampires to go insane and become monstrous creatures before wasting away. Ethan Hawke plays your vampire-in-peril who is trying to figure out a solution to this mess, even if that means breaking company policy and working with runaway humans who may have an unlikely answer to the vampire problems.
Is it good movie?
I remember watching Daybreakers in theaters and thinking it was pretty okay, but upon a second viewing, I will concede to really enjoying it. Fun, well shot, imaginative, pensive and gory, this is my kind of take on vampire lore.
The look of this film is a sleek, silvery and futuristic one. Coming across in a very comic-book fashion, the vampire future is bleak, dark and streamlined. When things go wrong, this industrial setting is really creepy. The viewer gets to watch as vampires become ravenous hunters who refuse to accept this shortage of blood. The reason why this film works so well is because it becomes very relatable. Mirroring a healthcare crisis, it's easy to understand the mob-rule insanity mindset that the vampires go through when they find out their sustenance has been effectively watered down to 5% of the blood they need so badly.
I also enjoyed Ethan Hawke's character Edward Dalton, the sympathetic vampire who simply wants things to be fair and equal for everyone. When presented a bottle of smuggled blood by his overzealous younger brother, he refuses to accept. Dalton doesn't want more than his share and becomes involved with humans who have found a way to cure the vampire problem. This is the smarter part of the film, where the conflict is created- the big pharmaceutical company that Edward works for doesn't want him to find the cure this way because it won't make him any money. Add to this mix a delightfully greedy and evil performance by Sam Neill as Charles Bromley as the company head and a delightfully hammy Willem Dafoe as former vampire turned friend named Elvis, and you've got a good time on your hands.
To round out the solid story is a lot of blood and guts action from FX wizards the Sperig brothers. I won't go into too much detail, but you've got a lot of nasty explosions, punctures, slices, gunshots and fire going on in this flick. Daybreakers brings the gruesome stuff in a nice gory package and I appreciated it.
If i had a complaint, it would be that the story begins to slow down a little bit once Edward and the humans hunker down to test out the cure and this muddles the pace of the film a bit. The film can be a bit heavy-handed at times, requiring some pretty foolish judgment and 'oh, come on' moments but they aren't dealbreakers. Other than that, I will say that there are times when the various filters and things like that make the movie look a little hokey, like it is trying to overextend its budget- this isn't happening all the time, but it is noticeable in a few scenes.
Video / Audio
This flick lands on video in 2:40:1 widescreen and looks great, very sharp and vibrant which is good because this film has a very distinct visual style.
Audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 and sounds fantastic. This is mixed really well and provides a really rich listening experience.
First up, a commentary track with co-directors Peter and Michael Spierig, and creature designer Steve Boyle and its chock full of information with lots of neat little stories and enough technical stuff to keep us geeks satiated.
After this is a long, four part documentary imaginatively called the Making of Daybreakers. This is a comprehensive, interesting and well made piece that actually gets beyond the surface and lets you hear from the people who made it all happen.
Also included is a short called The Big Picture, directed by the Spierig brothers. Different, but cool although I somewhat question its inclusion as it isn't really related to the film.
There's also a trailer, and a poster
I know its against popular opinion, but I really liked Daybreakers. It was a blood-soaked good time that had a decent story and some good acting muscle behind it. Not all vampire movies these days have to suck, and you know in which direction I'm looking when I say that..