Daybreakers (2009) Review: Disappointing Sci-Fi
“In 2019, the most precious natural resource… is us.”
Synopsis: 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 vamps on a way to save humankind.
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Daybreakers is one of an upsetting club of movies that have an excellent premise, but lousy execution. The different elements of the plot are all fairly fresh (the undead apocalypse was made up of vampires, not zombies; vampire-related tech is now commonplace; a shortage of remaining humans has sparked pharmaceutical trials for synthetic blood). But once the excitement of the concept wears off, there isn’t much left to go on.
Ethan Hawke as hematologist Edward Dalton, one of the only sympathetic vampires, comes across as more constipated than conflicted. Several other vampire characters get an attempt at backstory (especially Sam Neill as Charles Bromley) but there’s very little development on any of these minor plot points, and they end up feeling fairly forced. I always enjoy Willem Dafoe showing up in movies, but his character here didn’t have very much to do except show up dramatically once or twice.
In the end, the elements that I enjoyed – the socioeconomic problems of a world full of vampires, for instance – never quite received the attention they deserved and were overshadowed by the often banal plot. I ended up feeling like most of the creative parts of the movie where thrown in to make things look futuristic rather than for any real purpose. And much as I liked the rising threat to the vampires themselves, I felt like that was downplayed from the significance level it deserved.
Daybreakers mostly ended up as a movie full of missed opportunities. If you’re into vampire movies, this one is worth a watch just for the interesting take on the mythos… but you’re probably going to come away disappointed.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C
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