Before I say anything else, I have not read the comic. I did research the comic a little before I went to the movie, and I’ve been informed that there are plenty of changes to the original story (including the setting and subsequent nationalities of pretty much every character, as well as a complete change of sidekick). I’m one of those people who believes staying faithful — at the very least in spirit — to the source material needs to be a factor in whether an adaptation is good or not. That being said, faithfulness to the source isn’t the only factor … I thought on its own, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night was actually decent.
Years ago, Dylan Dog was a private investigator for the undead creatures (werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc.) of New Orleans — because he was a mortal, the different sects trusted his unbiased judgment. After a personal tragedy (shrouded in mystery, of course), Dylan walked away from his supernatural profession. But when he is asked to come out of retirement to solve a mortal’s supernatural murder, Dylan realizes that the people he cares about might get hurt, whether he likes it or not.
Let’s face it, we’ve all seen this set up before. Thanks to fantasy romance fodder like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood, we’re used to seeing werewolves and vampires and other monsters living among us. Practically every aspect of the monster underworld felt like it was lifted from a monster show or movie I’ve seen before. For instance, one of the movie’s plot points is the vampire gang using their headquarters as a rave club to peddle their own blood as a recreation drug. Yep, that’s taken right out of True Blood‘s first season. Maybe it’s because I just finished reviewing the US version of Being Human, but I’m kind of sick of this monster-mash fad, and being sick of the monster-mashing made me like the movie less. To be fair, its take on zombies is fresher (forgive the pun) than the vampire and werewolf aspects, but I’m sure zombie enthusiasts won’t be happy with the pacifist undead featured in the movie.
What the movie does well is hearkening back to the classic film noir. That nostalgic style is the movie’s heartbeat. If you strip down the story, the basic set-up is right up that alley, including the breathless beauty in need of a mystery solved, the shady establishments that need investigating and the protagonist’s narration throughout the movie. It’s Dylan’s narration that I think I like most about this movie. It was fun and very reminiscent of that old style of filmmaking. Brandon Routh‘s voice works for narration, too. I’ve been wanting to see Routh in more roles since I saw his hilarious, albeit short, role last summer in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And I really liked him as Superman, even if the movie itself was not the best. Here, Routh is probably the more enjoyable actor in the movie. His action scenes were fun, his dialogue didn’t feel contrived and his confidence befitted a man who deals with fiery-tempered monsters on a daily basis. It doesn’t hurt that we get to seem him shirtless, and that man is sure easy on the eyes.
I have bias towards Sam Huntington — who plays Dylan’s newly-undead zombie friend and sidekick Marcus — because he’s also the werewolf Josh on Being Human. It has not escaped me that his characters seem to have the worst luck ever, and he tends to be adorable as the anxious modern monster. However, his nervousness does waver from funny over to annoying at times. One particular scene, I thought he went almost to Shia LeBeouf levels of hysterical jabbering. That being said, I liked Huntington and Routh together. The duo originally worked together on Superman Returns, so they seemed comfortable with one another. Taye Diggs also seemed comfortable in his role as the sinister vampire crime lord. He was a fun villain, especially since he felt like a real crime lord that just happened to have fangs.
Unfortunately, I absolutely hated the dame in distress, played by Anita Briem. She was just so dull for so much of the movie! They had her be Routh’s love interest, but the two characters had so little chemistry that I didn’t even realize she was the love interest until I saw it on the screen. Seriously, as they started kissing and Routh took off his shirt, I just thought, “Wait, where did this come from?” I might have thought it was an excuse to see some eye candy in Routh, but the love scene is over in seconds. Routh takes off his shirt, fadeout, then we see them in bed the next morning. What a jip! I was also confused by the very Swedish Peter Stromare trying to do something close to a New Orleans accent. It wasn’t Sean-Connery’s-Russian-accent bad, but it was still jarring.
The main mystery was interesting enough, but there’s a twist towards the end that I saw coming a mile away. Then there’s a twist within the twist, but the inner twist doesn’t actually make sense. It’s like the filmmakers said, “You know that super important plot point detail we told you about earlier? We changed our minds! Because we can do that! 9/10ths into the film!” It’s not a bad ending, it just felt run-of-the-mill. But that’s how I felt about the whole movie. It wasn’t a terrible movie by any means, but it wasn’t extraordinary. It was watchable, but not particularly noteworthy. For fans of the comic, Dylan Dog might be more disappointing than it was for me. For fans of film noir with a sci-fi twist, it’s worth a watch.