David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

quick review: DAYBREAKERS

There are two movies currently playing that try to create a real and believable alien world. One of them succeeds remarkably well, not only providing a physical but a cultural deviation from the world we know wherein the movie's scenario consists of an intriguing story told incorporating believable extrapolation from a fantastic premise, with the result that the story and the main characters, while removed from our everyday experience, are believable and grounded.

And then there's AVATAR.

The flick I'm hyping is DAYBREAKERS. Which is not a perfect movie; I don't want to oversell it, and it certainly has its flaws. But in terms of serious world-building, its modest, simple, perfectly reasonable extrapolations of what happens when pretty much the entire human race is now vampires leaves AVATAR in the dust. AVATAR created a beautiful, immersive, all-encompassing alien world, and used it to make another tired retread of A MAN CALLED HORSE. DAYBREAKERS creates a dark, recognizable but alarmingly different alien world right here on earth, and uses it to tell a story that could take place only in that setting. Its little details reinforce that setting in a thousand little ways, and in so doing shed light on the film's characters, on their humanity (or lack thereof). And while DAYBREAKERS is, like seemingly every other damn flick in the multiplex these days, an implicitly ideological movie -- look for some lefty grievances about the pharmaceutical industry, in particular, not-so-artfully disguised -- it incorporates its ideological thrust much more subtly, effectively, and above all *intelligently* than the subtle-as-the-weight-of-James-Cameron's-moneybags AVATAR. By which I mean, when DAYBREAKERS makes the unfortunate decision to make its political analogy relatively explicit, it does so quickly and in passing and with about ten thousand times more grace than AVATAR does.

This is what raises DAYBREAKERS head-and-shoulders above AVATAR, in world-building: the filmmakers think about implications of what they raise. James Cameron does not think about implications, which is damned odd because if you look at his earlier work the man is about nothing but, but I don't think there is a single person who saw ALIENS who *didn't* watch the humans getting herded off Pandora and into their spaceships without thinking, "Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." But though DAYBREAKERS wobbles (they set up a glorious ending, then make it much less effective, and anybody who's watched CNN will immediately think up a simple and effective tactic that the vampires for some strange reason fail to use), there are little things all through the movie that make you realize, "Okay, they didn't think of *everything,* but at least they thought about *some* things." Which is better than AVATAR, wherein the only reason everyone and everything exists is to be profound and evocative for Jake Sully. I'll give you a simple thing: the vampires smoke. They smoke at home. They smoke in their cars. They smoke in meetings. I mean, they *all* smoke. Because they're immortal. Why shouldn't they? But it's not what we're used to these days, so it's a little surprising at first, before you realize. It's nothing fancy at all and no one remarks on it, but it's a simple bit of texture that explains the world. As opposed to AVATAR's ton o' money and color, which says remarkably and unfortunately little.

Anyway, not a perfect flick by any means, but it's got good performances and great staging and it's absolutely great at making you buy its world for the duration of the movie. Check it out.
Tags: movies

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