Movies – “Daybreakers” Is How To Do World-Building Right

I haven’t seen “Avatar” yet, not least because the descriptions of it make it increasingly sound less like a fun time at the movies and more, for me, a painful, unpleasant chore. Not least is the fact that apparently the movie has a fucking travelogue in it, which is really inexcusable. I don’t care how prettily the CGI is rendered: it’s still a cartoon. Not to denigrate the art of animation, but I’m getting tired of animation being passed off as real. Most filmmakers just do not have the capacity to make us get past that and care, at least when presenting something clearly fake as real.

Which is what makes “Daybreakers” such a breath of fresh air. It’s certainly a flawed movie, but in terms of creating a world, it’s absolutely impeccable.

Part of this is simply the choices made by the Spierig Brothers in terms of visual effects. While there’s quite a bit of CGI in this movie, the really important stuff is practical work. We are never asked to accept a cheap CGI bat-human monstrosity as real.

But another part is the consideration put into the movie about how vampires would actually live if they were the majority, living openly. Backdoors have a U-shaped hallway to prevent light from shining in. Cars have daylight running modes, complete with video cameras. And none of this is belabored or lingered over; the Spierigs give us enough to establish the movie and don’t go out of the way to emphasize how clever they are.

And there are great moments of performance here. Most of the movie’s action sequences are well-shot and well-performed, but the most suspenseful sequence takes place in a kitchen. I won’t ruin it, but it’s a wonderful moment of well-directed performance crossed with well-done effects work. And the lobby sequence in the finale…that’s just nasty.

This isn’t to say the movie’s perfect. There’s a moment involving the mutated vampires that is both cheesy and oddly impractical, and Sam Neill’s businessman, while Neill takes a delight in playing such a total bastard, is a bit obvious in his villainy. You kind of wonder, at the climax, why Ethan Hawke’s character didn’t realize the huge megacorporation was doing this all for the money.

But if the plot’s a little stale, it’s forgiveable because of the details. It can’t be said the Spierigs didn’t commit. If you enjoy this kind of thing, this is definitely the kind of thing you’ll enjoy.


One Response to “Movies – “Daybreakers” Is How To Do World-Building Right”

  1. Brentin Says:

    I have partial left eye blindness, so a lot of “3-D” effects are lost on me. So I will NOT be seeing Avatar…

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