In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vampires on a way to save humankind.
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I really love the concept of this movie. The whole set up gave me chills. But the way the story panned out and ended, I was upset. I couldn't believe they took such a great idea and just tore it up. They had the feel, they had the cast, they had the look, they had the action; but a horrible planned out story. You see a lot of movies about vampires. All the movies are about people being turned and how blood is running out, so vampires are dying and humans are becoming extinct. One group though finds a way to save the human race though. I will not say because that is a big spoiler of the movie. When it got to this part, I thought the film might be saved and get really interesting again, but it didn't. Ethan Hawke is the main character and he was really good. Then you had Willem Dafoe who was strange, but ok. Claudia Karvan was decent in the film. My favorite vampire though was Sam Neill. I wasn't sure if he could pull it off, but he was great. Some of the side characters made no sense because the story was so much in pieces. An example would be Isabel Lucas. I understood her role, but the way they showed it in the movie was too quick and uneventful. I really wish this film could of been better because it would of made an excellent vampire movie. My mind through the one hour and thirty eight minutes kept saying, "love it, hated it, love it, hate it" and so on.
I blame Pattinson and Stewart, but I pretty much can’t stand anything vampire related these days, with the notable exceptions of Let The Right One In and Interview With The Vampire, which are the only two vampire related films released in the past twenty years that really have/had anything original to say on the subject.
When Daybreakers was released, however, there was the promise of something original. An alternative and altogether less appealing vision of vampire and human co-existence. The Spierig Brothers have taken a phenomenally simple premise and then ran with it, seemingly just happy to see where it goes, but still following set mythical parameters. So when faced with the question, ‘what happened when vampires ruled the earth but then ran out of blood to feed on?’ is posed, you can expect an unusual take on the genre, not overly concerned with vast, lonely lifetimes and aching, unfulfilled, misunderstood passion that can only be truly felt by those that can live to be hundreds of years old. Daybreakers dispenses with the romance and the physical drama of being a vampire almost as much as it ignores the benefits of extended life, concentrating on the potential end of two wildly different races with a seemingly common goal instead. The film does away with the glamour of an eternity with fangs and great dress sense, choosing instead to wallow in the mire of two desperate needs to survive.
The films attempts to approach some difficult moral questions and even some theological ones and whilst it should be applauded for doing so, it really fails to drive home the messages that the answers to those questions provide, still having to deal with the sometimes inconvenient truth that not only do the vampires want blood, but so does the audience. This demand for action and adventure could easily be accused of taking away something from the film as an interesting philosophical argument is trying to push itself forward, but then has to contend with hackneyed dialogue and now predictable, all too familiar, lapses into bloodletting of one form or another.
Comparisons have been drawn, not least by the marketing, to the Matrix and it is easy to see why. The human race at the very near end of its existence, defeated and cowed by an opposing and occupying force smarter, quicker and generally superior in almost every department, but one. That being humanity, of course. The fight for survival against a massive opposing force is uppermost in both films, but Daybreakers lacks a believability due to its ancient subject matter, often the butt of schlock television mini-series and ‘Classic’ wielding Goths the world over. Essentially, in order for this film to engage on a moral and mentally visceral level, it requires a narrative dependent upon a realistic outcome to a believable, or even possible, threat. In short, Vampires will never rule the planet. Machines could easily manage it in time. And here the difference really lies.
To take nothing away from it, Daybreakers provides both some insight and the confirmation of some inalienable truths. With all pro’s, you will invariably find some cons lurking in the background, and while it may be great to live forever, you still can’t walk about in daylight and you are probably going to go hungry, and often. Unfortunately, Daybreakers does go the way of most films and a perspective that was initially blurred showing a non-human society doing quite well for itself does away with a morally ambivalent standpoint and ends up chest thumping for the small band of humans that are doing the decent thing and fighting for their survival. No great shocker, but what started out as an admirable attempt at philosophical argument slowly descends into something far more formulaic.
The acting is all well and good, but never borders on what we would call ‘highs’, but is still acceptable enough for the demands of the plot and character development. The films’ mood and lighting are suitably toned down to represent a world without any real humanity, except on occasion where the sun is called into play as saviour to the human race. In all, an entertaining hour and a half that could easily have provided more questions and answers about what it means to be human, but settled in the end for just being entertaining, instead of provoking and confrontational which it threatened to do in the early part of the film.
"life's a bitch.. and then you don't die! (Daybreakers film review)"
"Daybreakers" is a pleasant surprise for such an unpleasant movie, and the word "unpleasant" is used here in the most flattering way. It's never pleasant when humans are nearly erased, nor when a charisma-less Ethan Hawke (in a role equally suited for Keanu Reeves) is the only hope for the future. Despite it's bleakness, "Daybreakers" manages to be a captivating and somewhat original take on the old lores. This could just as well have been an aliens-take-over-the-world-plot, or zombies, or that matter, but it works a little better with vampires.
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Building on the genre-clash crossover theme that was solidly established the first night of TIFF's Midnight Madness with the slasher flick cum teen girl comedy Jennifer's Body, programmer Colin Geddes has delivered another interesting hybrid: the futuristic, sci-fi-vampire film Daybreakers.
Set 10 years into the future and after the bat-spawned vampire plague converted the vast majority of humans into blood-sucking chain-smoking nocturnal regular joes who have to shave by watching themselves in a video feed, Daybreakers is directed by the twin Spierig brothers. They're MM vets, these dudes, as their last film (2003's Undead) famously closed out the beloved Uptown theatre here in Toronto, the still-mourned theatre that was home to the midnight TIFF screenings before they moved to the cavernous, impersonal and enormous Ryerson hall.
Ethan Hawke plays vampire Edward, the reticent, kind-hearted Chief Hematologist of the giant multi-national corporation tasked with farming the remaining few humans for their blood and developing a substitute to feed the billions of vampires teetering on the edge of starvation as resources dwindle. The film is a neat enough allegory any number of take-your-pick conservation issues, food, water, oil; one of the things that makes the film work is that it's sci-fi of the best kind, true speculative fiction that talks about what's happening now, or could happen soon, through a lens that both abstracts it slightly and makes it easier (if at times much too much and too obvious) to see. The Spierig bros' film is entertaining from the start, it takes an immediate heart-warming leap into territory any genre film-lover will like. The film says "ok, this is a vampire movie, it's in the future, the humans lost, the vampires have their own society now" and instead of just telling that story, the story of the battle, Daybreakers takes that as pat and asks "ok, now that you've accepted that in the prologue, what happens to vampire society when it runs out of blood?".
It's joyous just in its premise, so reminiscent and redolent of true movie-monster-nerd basement fantasy conversations about who would win between Dracula and Predator or what would happen if the Nazis had werewolf soldiers that any number of technical shortcomings, like a jumbled, poorly paced and overlong second act or a handful of not-very-good performances can be overlooked easily and gladly. While much of the film feels (and not just due to the presence of Ethan Hawke, who oddly spends the last half an hour of the film looking exactly like Han Solo) like vampire Gattaca as the machinations of the rebel-underground-vs-evil-corporate-overlords-and-there's-also-a-family-betrayal-subplot revolve, there are a handful of truly scary, truly sublime scenes of the best kind of vampire carnage, gory and stylish and terrifying. For lovers like me of genre freakouts, Daybreakers offers a flawed but thoroughly enjoyable, happy-making trip, one foot firmly in vampire flick tradition and the other in entertaining, creative and original speculative territory. I was sold the moment I didn't see Ethan Hawke's reflection in the rear view mirror of a sleek, futured-up Chevy cruising through the best Blade Runner future two Australian indie filmmaker brothers could create. 8.1/10.