THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Weak Crop Of New Releases As Vampire Flick ‘Daybreakers’ Invades ‘Twilight’ Territory & ‘Leap Year’ Lowers The Bar For Rom-Coms In 2010
Just when you thought it was safe to head back to the multiplex after The Twilight Saga: New Moon‘s $300M reign of terror, the supernatural thriller Daybreakers, in which a plague has transformed most humans into vampires, is poised to take its place. When it rains, it pours and in the case of the vampire craze that’s invaded pop culture, it’s safe to say it’s monsoon season. Even though it’s being released after the first two Twilight movies, Willem Dafoe, who stars in the movie along with Ethan Hawke, told MTV that the movie was in development even before the teen-themed blockbuster. He said:
This isn’t an apology, because obviously Lionsgate factored very big on when Daybreakers was going to be released, but this was in development far before Twilight. It’s true that Hollywood is very much susceptible to trends, usually built on underlying beliefs and fears in the public’s subconscious. Look no further than the disaster movies of the late-’90s or the post-9/11 string of safe, feel-good storytelling.
Dafoe also explained the reason he was attracted to the material was because of the filmmakers different take on the material, saying:
I thought the approach was really fresh. It’s such a well-established genre that usually people are doing takes on it. You could [go back to the roots.] It’s very flexible, the vampire mythology, you can use it to serve lots of things. God knows it’s a great metaphor for talking about everything from sex to romance to power to colonialism to … you name it.”
“The sibling writer-director team of Michael and Peter Spierig gather the promising elements of a socio-satirical horror movie. But when Edward joins a roving band of human renegades, led by Willem Dafoe as a guy named Elvis, Daybreakers turns into a ponderous apocalyptic chase film — it’s like Children of Men with exploding-plasma shock effects. The best thing you can say about the movie is that it pours some very old blood into a new plastic bottle.
For the Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert, the biggest disappointment about the movie was the ending. He writes:
“This intriguing premise, alas, ends as so many movies do these days, with fierce fights and bloodshed. Inevitably, the future of the planet will be settled among the handful of characters we’ve met, and a lot of extras with machineguns. I guess, but can’t be sure, that audiences will enjoy the way these vampires die. They don’t shrivel up into Mr. and Mrs. Havisham but explode, spraying blood all over everyone. Toward the end, their heads blow off like human champagne corks. Well, not human.”
Leap Year, starring Amy Adams, is the first major directing gig for filmmaker Anand Tucker since Shopgirl in 2005 and it’s his first stab at romantic comedy. Tucker told Variety, that the experience was no different than some of the low budget projects he’s worked on. He said:
In the end, no matter how big or small the budget of a project is, it still comes out that you have a camera, a couple of people and you have to make something happen.”
The Buzz: Bad. 2009 wasn’t a good year for the romantic comedy genre, with titles like The Ugly Truth, The Proposal battling for the lowest common denominator. It may be a new year, but the trend looks to continue with Leap Year. The main reason to see it seems to be the beautiful Irish settings, which serve as a back drop for an unnervingly airheaded comedy.
Variety’s Dennis Harvey, writes:
“Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont‘s script is initially reminiscent of the Powell-Pressburger classic I Know Where I’m Going!, whose upwardly mobile bride-to-be gets waylaid by weather and romance in a humble Scottish village , then channels It Happened One Night, as a snippy, snobby, demanding heroine is forced to go on a road trip (and at one point pose as part of a married couple) with a rakish man’s-man. But those movies were idiosyncratic and unpredictable, whereas you know throughout just where this one is headed. “
Elizabeth Weitzman, writing for the New York Daily News, suggests renting some Adams’ previous movies instead:
Adams’ frantic exertions feel especially disheartening. And since Hollywood loves to humiliate its heroines these days, she’s forced to teeter through cow pastures in high heels, fall face-first in mud and listen to sexist insults over and over. She deserves better, and so do we. Stay home and rent Junebug or Enchanted instead.”
Youth in Revolt is the latest comedy starring Michael Cera, who plays Nick Thwisp, a lonely teen dealing with his parents’ divorce, who conjurs up an alter ego, in order to get the attention of the girl of his dreams, played by actress Portia Doubleday. Cera told Red Eye‘s Matt Pais, that what he liked most about the script was the fact that the main characters were off the beaten path.
I like that theyre not typical teenagers. Its kind of obvious why they connect because they really dont fit in with anyone their own age and they really dont fit in with their families. So they have a lot in common, even though they really mess with each other.
Portio Doubleday echoes Cera’s thoughts with regards to her own character in an interview with LA Times. She said:
She’s really complex. In the book, she’s way more manipulative, and to be frank, bitchy,” she says. “When I read the book, I felt for Nick: ‘Whew. She’s a mean one!’ If my guy friend was dating her, I’d say, ‘Dump her!’
The Buzz: Good, but not great. The movie was actually filmed when the 22 year old Cera was 19, and while it’s never a good sign when a movie put on the shelf, in this case the reviews haven’t been bad.
The Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips, says:
“Youth in Revolt isn’t bad — the cast is too good for it to be bad — but archly comic coming-of-age fables are tricky things, and this adaptation of the first three C.D. Payne stories about an Oakland teenager’s improbable life, times, fantasies and picaresque sexual adventures does not precisely feel like This Year’s Stuff. Still, I laughed a fair bit. That’s no ringing endorsement, but it’s January.”
Salon‘s Stephan Zacharek, says:
“Youth in Revolt sometimes works too hard at being quirky: There are places where Arteta, whose previous features include The Good Girl (2002) and Chuck and Buck (2000), ramps up the story’s farcical qualities a bit too aggressively. (Gustin Nash adapted the screenplay.) But the picture strikes the right balance between being good-natured and sharp-edged.”