Mania Grade: C-
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- Blu-ray: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
- Rating: PG-13
- Starring: Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Peter Stormare, Kurt Angle
- Written By: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer
- Directed By: Kevin Munroe
- Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2011
- Extras: None
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Blu-Ray Review
Brandon Routh is out of his element as a tough detective
By Tim Janson
August 07, 2011
I’m a big fan of crime noir films of the 1940s and 50s…those films with tough, hardboiled detectives, beautiful femme fatales, dangerous villains, and seedy locales. At its core, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (based on a popular Italian comic book) is a crime noir film with all the elements that make for a good movie…except one, which we’ll get to shortly. Some have compared the film to popular urban fantasy characters like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden or Simon Green’s John Taylor. Perhaps the film might have drawn some inspiration from those series but the fact is that Tiziano Sclavi created the comic series in 1986. The first Dresden book did not come out until 2000.
Brandon Routh plays the title character. A New Orleans private investigator, he spends most of his time taking on cases involving cheating spouses but it wasn’t always the case. Routh provides narration throughout the film, another standard film noir tactic, and we learn that we live in a world of monsters. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, and ghouls all exist and have made New Orleans their haven. Dylan Dog formerly had been the spokesman for the creatures, keeping their existence hidden from humanity and helping keep the peace between the various monster factions. But tragedy years ago led him to give up that position and refuse to have anything to do with the monsters.
When a wealthy importer is murdered, the man’s daughter Elizabeth (Anita Briem) hires Dog to find out what happened. He refuses at first but then takes the case when his assistant Marcus (played by fellow Superman Returns alum Sam Huntington) is also murdered. Dylan soon is buried deep in a plot involving a powerful stolen artifact that all the monsters are after. Dylan has to find the artifact before the monsters do and prevent a bloody war from engulfing New Orleans.
I mentioned the film having all the elements of a good crime noir film except one and that one is Routh himself. He is woefully out of his element as a tough, grizzled hardboiled detective. Hardboiled? He’s more like sunny side up. You can’t buy him has tough or grizzled. Sorry Brandon, but you’re 31 and you look 21. You’d be more at home in a frat party film comedy than as a tough-talking detective. You were more believable as Superman.
Oh it’s not for lack of trying…Routh rattles off snappy tough-guy one-liners with rapid-fire delivery but in trying to sound hardnosed he rather comes off as stilted. His monotone narration throughout the film only adds to the aggravation. It’s too bad, too. Because there’s some fun things in Dylan Dog. Huntington is a scream as his assistant who comes back to life as a perplexed zombie. He learns about washing with Wisk and brushing his teeth with bleach, and living on a diet of worms and maggots. When he has difficulty coping with his condition, he even joins a support group for zombies. Peter Stromare who is always suitably creepy, is on hand as Gabriel, the patriarch of one of the werewolf clans and has some nice scenes. Pro wrestler Kurt Angle plays Gabriel’s son Wolfgang.
Despite these few positives, Dylan Dog simply has too much working against it. From Routh’s fish-out-of-water performance to the forced and unbelievable romance between Dylan and Elizabeth, to some of the worst make-up and creature F/X seen in a long time. Small wonder why the film was a box-office dud. Grade C-