22 May 2011 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
Poor Brandon Routh. After snagging the iconic role as the Man of Steel, it's a little bit unfortunate that Bryan Singer's Superman Returns fell short of the studio's expectations, and he no longer plays a part in any future installments, starting with Zack Snyder's reboot. No matter, after all with that build and chiselled good looks, one can waltz into another superhero franchise, isn't it?
Unfortunately, Dylan Dog is an Americanized version of the Italian horror graphic novel character, and as far as adaptations of comics from another culture goes, this one hits the mark in expectations, where the source material got extremely dumbed down, its unique selling points dissolved into mediocrity and bastardized. Save for the trademarked coat and red shirt, director Kevin Munroe's vision of this character became somewhat of a generic monster hunter type of film, though a plus point would be its treatment and narrative style in full detective noir, with Routh's Dylan Dog being reluctantly pulled from retirement by his client Elizabeth (Anita Briem) to investigate the death of her father, as well as that of his assistant Marcus (Sam Huntington).
This investigative trip of course introduces the audience unfamiliar with the Dylan Dog mythos that the undead, from vampires to werewolves to zombies, all have hidden human identities and walk the Earth quite undetected, with a truce in place to keep the peace and Dylan being the only trusted human for the monsters to go to when someone crosses the line or breaks the peace. There's a little backstory here on Dylan's origins and the reasons behind his forced retirement, but nothing truly to wow or build upon any depth to the character, which is potential that's wasted in giving Dylan more meat in background, becoming instead just another human detective on his rounds.
The thrill factor of course is the make up and effects in having the monsters look their nasty part, although they aren't something that hasn't been seen before on screen. Action sequences are ho-hum, with the nagging feeling that the story by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer can't quite decide how to empower Dylan, making him become as powerful as Routh's previous comic book outing in at least the indestructibility factor, while equipped with some funky weapons that we should see more of. And the trailer while pretty tacky, actually summed up the entire plot, having reveal too much and letting out that the filmmakers aren't quite confident with their end product, and the marketers a little bit clueless on how to sell this film, hence its verbosity.
While Brandon Routh has a limited acting range, his physique actually suited him fine here and basically that was all that mattered, since you aren't going to remember much about his rather bland performance. Perhaps it's also because Sam Huntington, his co-star from Superman Returns as well as he played Jimmy Olsen then, scored much of the flak in this film being the very whiny assistant, whose wisecracks and constant shouting get onto your nerves, and you wonder when his character could shut up if at all for five minutes. The Marcus character doesn't exist in the books simply because of a potential copyright tussle if what was deemed as a Grucho Marx lookalike got interpreted, but this modern replacement was as unfunny as he was unnecessary in a lot of ways.
Don't expect this monster squad outing to be too cerebral. It's filled with corny one liners involving various body parts, and in essence is a poor man's cousin to Men in Black, replacing aliens in our midst with that of monsters roaming around. If only it had stuck more faithfully to its source, then it could have been something quite unique.