Daybreakers [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (26th May 2010).
The Film

Somewhere in between “camp” and “art” lies my favorite type of movie. These are the sort of movies that can make you think, but at the same time have monsters, aliens, etc. In the past, I have seen such movies with anticipation, knowing what I am going to get when I walk in the theater. However, I can’t think of the last time a film surprised me as much as "Daybreakers" did. I went in thinking I was going to see a (God forbid) original vampire film, but what I got was one of my favorite movies of the year thus far, and one that I imagine will be tough to beat.

"Daybreakers" tells the story of Edward (Ethan Hawke), the unfortunately named vampire who lives in a world run by the undead creatures. Instead of gothic castles and scary gargoyles, a world run by vampires looks very much like our own, only the night is now when everyone is more active. Over time, most of Earth’s population has “turned” and the last remaining humans are being sought after by human hunters. Edward works for a pharmaceutical company that is looking for a blood-substitute, as the national supply is dwindling. He works for Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), a sort of vampire CEO who owns most of the world’s blood supply through his banks. Through a series of events, the human-sympathetic Edward winds up with a group of humans led by Elvis (Willem Dafoe). These humans claim that vampires will no longer need a blood substitute because they have a cure for vampirism itself.

This is the sort of narrative-rich story I wish would have come out when I was still studying film in college, as I believe I could have written a 30 page paper on it. There is so much that this movie is portraying through horror and sci-fi, and I more than welcome a movie from either genre with brains. The film tackles people’s fear of death, over consumption, and even the evil behind pharmaceutical companies. Mixed in with awesome gore and sweet action pieces, you have to sort of movie that I pine to see.

The movie isn’t just smart, but extremely well directed as well. Written and directed by the Spierig Brothers (Michael and Peter), they show a level of competence in every facet that I haven’t seen in a horror movie in years. Re-watching the movie at home, I forgot how brilliant the opening minutes of the film are. There is no dialogue for the first bit, and we just follow Edward through the city, and all the while, the film masterfully creates a world run by vampires. Everyone smokes, mirrors have special cameras so they can work for those with no reflection, cars have “daytime” mode, skyscrapers have bridges between them, etc, etc. The Spierig Brothers must have sat down and double checked everything that would happen to a city if it were inhabited by vampires, and implanted it intelligently into the film.

The only problem with the film I have is a minor one. On blu-ray, the film’s $20 million budget is apparent at times. While the majority of the special effects in the film blend in well, there are a few instances where you can tell corners were cut, specifically whenever a child is seen smoking.

Effects aside, I honestly think "Daybreakers" is a perfect film, and one of the best I have seen in years. I’m not big into vampires, and you may even say I’m the first person to question anything with the blood suckers (The Gates…are you serious???), but as a fan of horror, sci-fi, and film in general, I cannot recommend "Daybreakers" highly enough.

Video

"Daybreakers" is presented in a widescreen 2.40:1 1080p 24/fps HD transfer mastered with AVC MPEG-4 compression, and sadly, at times, it doesn’t live up to the high standard I have for the movie. Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous points that just look beautifully transferred, but the picture quality was a little inconsistent. On numerous occasion throughout the movie, specifically when scenes take place in the day time, the orange and yellow hues are noisy and distracting. I was bummed that the film’s transfer wasn’t handled better.

Audio

"Daybreakers" is offered in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, and it more than made up for the inconsistency in the video. Maybe it was because I originally saw "Daybreakers" at the crappiest theater in town, but upon first viewing, I didn’t realize how much care went into the film’s sound design. While all the bigger things such as crashes, bangs, and explosions pop in the way you would imagine, it was in the ambient sound that I was truly impressed, with the subtle score by Christopher Gordon, I was able to enjoy the film as though it were my first time.
The disc also included a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track as well as subtitles in English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

"Daybreakers" offers up some pretty impressive extra content in the form of an audio commentary, a feature-length making-of documentary, a short film, and a "BonusView" picture-in-picture feature the is actually worth a damn. All are explored further below:

DISC ONE:

First up we have an audio commentary track from directors Michael and Peter Spierig, along with creature designer Steven Boyle. This is the sort of commentary I live for, in as much that it isn’t dull, but full of actual information. The three discuss why they did what they did in the film without ever having that aura of “oh, we are just GENIUSES” that some commentaries contain. Basically, these three guys are pretty modest, but at the same time, they really know their stuff.

Next up is the "BonusView" picture-in-picture content, which just puts up storyboards along with the film for comparison. This is one of the first times I have seen a "BonusView" feature that didn’t feel gimmicky, or didn’t try to overstep what it should be. If you are into the filmmaking process, this will be a neat feature for you.

Also included is one of my favorite extra features I have ever seen on a Blu-ray in the form of "Making of Daybreakers", which runs for an amazing 2 hours, 1 minute and 38 seconds documentary. I personally find the filmmaking process interesting enough that I feel as though EVERY movie should have a feature like this, but this making-of acts more as a documentary on the Speirig brothers as much as the movie. It starts with their beginnings, goes into pre-production through to post. From beginning to end, this is what a making-of should be.

Next up is "The Big Picture" which runs for 13 minutes and 51 seconds. This is an early short film by the Speirig brothers, and is pretty neat overall. Surprisingly, it isn’t a horror, but rather a charming little drama that works with one concept (a woman’s TV shows her the future), and runs with it. My only problem was that it had a terribly stupid ending that may as well have been the ending to every "Scary Movie" film (2000-2006).

Also included is a poster art gallery, featuring 7 posters in all. Some of the posters are really sweet, and actually made me want to go online to see if I could find any for purchase.

Lastly we have a theatrical trailer for the film running at 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

Bonus trailers are for:

- "From Paris With Love" which runs for 1 minute and 26 seconds.
- "Gamer" which runs for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
- "Blu-ray" promo which runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- "Lionsgate Blu-ray" promo runs for 1 minute and 1 second.

There are some other exclusive content as well such as BD Touch access, metamenu features, ticker/gadgets feature, a bookmarks feature and BD-Live access (profile 2.0 only) that takes you to Lionsgate's online portal.

DISC TWO:

This is a digital copy of the film.

Overall

The Film: A Video: B Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A-

 


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