A fun romp in the land of vampires, werewolves and zombies … oh my!
Dylan Dog has a long history, longer than most comics/graphic novels and his most recent iteration, from Dark Horse comics, made its way to theaters in 2011 in the form of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. This telling of the supernatural detective is easy for those unfamiliar with the franchise to jump in and enjoy but how is it for fans of the source material? Let’s take a look at both sides.
The Story – In New Orleans the dark things in the night have to be moderated, investigated from vampire to werewolves, ghouls and all things in between and there is only one man for the job, or was. Dylan Dog is a moderator, a paranormal investigator who has been appointed to oversee the crimes of the paranormal world. The loss of his loved one has caused him to give up this line of investigation and take up normal private eye work (husbands cheating on wives) until a stolen relic puts the potential for war front and center. Dylan dives back into his old world to find out about this relic, why it’s important to both humans and vampire and he must now come to terms with a precious life lost in the past and how this impact his present situation. With the help of his newly zombified assistant Marcus, Dylan must race the clock to not only avoid a vampire/werewolf war but also the revival of a much deeper, darker, more ancient evil.
First, this is not a direct transcription to screen of Tiziano Sclavi’s Italian comic. It takes place in New Orleans, not the UK and the character of Groucho is replaced by a comedic Marcus. Some of the back-story remains, Dog losing a past loved one, but the rest should be enjoyed as a side-story to fans of the franchise, not canon. Dylan is more a super hero type of character, like the detective fighting and solving crimes vs. the brooding, darker investigator fans know. Dylan is more a Dark Knight than Detective if using Batman as a comparison (no he’s not swinging around folks). The trailers and story told to viewers is not quite what’s delivered and while the back-story does fill in gaps as the story progresses it just feels like this would be a great pilot/premier for a longer running SyFy show (like Sanctuary).
The Acting – Brandon Routh (he is Superman folks) does a splendid job in his role as Dylan as he’s weighed down by past atrocities and losses but his reasoning for getting back into the detective business is a big … blah. Routh is not the Dylan Dog diehard fans of the comic may expect but he delivers Dylan as an almost emotionless detective. Anita Briem overacts at times and her role towards the end of the film is a bit ‘really’ but someone needed to be the love interest right? As for the rest of the cast, Sam Huntington as Marcus delivers over the top humor due to his … change and he is by far one of the most enjoyable aspects of Dylan Dog. Taye Diggs as Vargas, head vampire, feels likes Blades younger brother and his ambitions are well delivered even if the formula of young vampire vs. old regime vampire is a bit played out. Dylan Dog was not created to wins anyone an Academy Award but these actors do a solid overall job of bringing this would to life and making it enjoyable for viewers.
The Action – With such a sweet mixture of baddies the action never quite builds to the levels viewers would hope or expect. The pace moves along at a mid-level, not too fast, not too slow but it feels just a bit off, again knowing the source material and where the action could have gone. Even the final scene leaves the viewer wanting more, not more story but more in the sequence.
Miscellaneous – While Routh may not be game for doing a cable show, the possibility of Dylan Dog as a SyFy or other cable show is there. With tons of back-story, from the Italian comic, and the cheaper production cost associated with monster and paranormal based shows, this would be a great, an outstanding actually, show that would hook goth and monster fans from here to the UK and beyond (just set the show in the UK with a more original Dylan).
Overall Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is an enjoyable movie for non-fans of the franchise with decent action that never quite hits the pace it should. For fans of Dylan Dog, the offering is a bit off since there are departures from the source material that were made to fit the American audience (like Keanu Reeves as Constantine). A great rental for horror, paranormal, monster and SyFy produced movies but beyond that only the most die-hard comic fans should buy.