Tags: BD-Live, BD-Touch, Bonus View, Claudia Karvan, Damien Garvey, Digital Copy, Ethan Hawke, Harriet Minto-Day, Isabel Lucas, Jay Laga'aia, Lionsgate, Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe
has an average rating of 6.6 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
are very thorough and worthwhile!
– 98 minutes
This uses 21.8GB for the movie out of 42.5GB total.
Overall Verdict – At Least Worth A Rental
— Review written by: James Segars —
The Movie Itself is written and directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Undead).
When I originally saw the trailer for Daybreakers, I was ecstatic. The film’s trailer struck me, and not just because of the song choice (Running Up That Hill by Placebo — fan-fuckin-tastic) but because it looked like a very unique, and clever action-packed vampire film, with an excellent cast to boot. Vampires have assumed the dominant role in society, and are farming humans for blood? Awesome, sign me up! Wait, and the human blood supply is running out?! Even better! Oh shit, there’s an underground human resistance that has a CURE for Vampires? Wow, this is just getting too good to be true, I thought.
Well, I was right. The promise of a kick-ass vampire movie with that many layers was too good to be true. The reality of it all is that the all-too-short film collapses beneath the convoluted narrative and obscure actions of its countless — several throwaway — characters. This isn’t to say that the ideas behind the story aren’t great, because they are. Sadly though, everything is far too condensed and compressed to work properly. This was corroborated by the included “making-of” documentary found on this disc, that the brothers were under great financial/time constraints and ultimately had to re-think, re-shoot and altogether omit certain shots/sequences and scenes in order to finish the film on time and on budget. Unfortunately, I think that this time/money crunch really ended up adversely effecting the end product. To explain further, I found that everyone but Sam Neill’s, Ethan Hawke’s and Willem Dafoe’s characters were entirely flat and shallow, and altogether useless, which isn’t to say that everyone outside of them did a poor job acting, I simply didn’t care for them as people, or vampires. Their stories and respective backstories were irrelevant to the progression of the narrative. For instance, the human resistance we’re introduced to in the trailer is completely annihilated off camera only mere minutes after they’re introduced. Why should we care? Why bother introducing them at all? Just seems like a waste of screentime and money to me, or a poor attempt to expand the scope and reach of the film world. In similar fashion, we’re shown Isabel Lucas numerous times in the trailer (and she even gets her name on the disc art/poster) but her presence and significance in the story is questionable. She’s really more of a cameo, if anything, and perhaps some eye candy. Who cares if she’s the long-lost daughter of the corporate blood farmer mogul (Sam Neill), we’re being introduced to her more than halfway through the film, and then she’s promptly executed after her capture and infection. Cool looking sequences, yes. Significant, not a bit. At the same time though, I understand where the Spierig brothers are coming from. They were looking to flesh out, and add dimension to Sam Neill’s character, to show that he’s a conflicted person, one that was once human, but the truth is that they had already done that earlier in the film. This was just superfluous icing on the cake.
Aye, I could go on and on about where this film fell short, but I really don’t want to rag on it too much. I didn’t like it, but I still have immense respect for the Spierig brothers, and I think that they have a great deal of potential. Their concepts and ideas that are littered throughout the film are still unique and thought provoking, but I think that they simply tried to bite off a bit more than they could chew with this film. There’s far too much going on, and the resolution just doesn’t feel quite right. I wonder what this movie would have been like had they not been under immense pressure to finish on time. What would this film have been like, where would it have gone if it had had an AVATAR-sized budget? Probably to great heights, I imagine. But we’ll probably never know.
Daybreakers isn’t all bad of course, there more than a few redeeming parts throughout, and the great leads help carry the film when the going gets rough, but the sum total effect of the film for me was one of indifference. I loved the concepts, but didn’t care for the narrative as a whole. The cinematography was excellent. Production design (given what they had to work with) was extraordinary. Acting amongst the leads was very good. Makeup/effects, stellar. But even still, as the credits began to roll, my shoulders began to shrug. With more money, and more time, and some radical narrative revision, I think that there’s a great movie in here somewhere. I just wish that I could say they knocked it out of the park because the trailer painted an entirely different picture. Nonetheless, I’ll be keeping my eye on the Spierig brothers in the future. It’s easy to see that they’re extremely passionate and capable filmmakers, and I think it’s only a matter of time until they perfect the formula.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
Filmed almost exclusively on the Panavision Genesis HD Camera system, using Panavision Primo Lenses, with miscellaneous shots being filmed on standard 35mm Panavision Cameras, Daybreakers looks pretty darn good, but it is not without it’s flaws and shortcomings. But first the good: the film’s cinematographer has done an exceptional job with the look and feel of the film, maintaining/translating the tone of the film’s narrative in a unique visual manner. Strictly based on the cinematography alone, Daybreakers isn’t one of my favorite looking films of all time, but it looks really great stylistically speaking, and it’s hard to argue otherwise, I think. Everything just looks really cool — for lack of a better word. The color scheme is largely muted, especially in the vampire world, but the muted colors still pop extremely well. Once we’re introduced to the world of the humans, the palette warms up exponentially, to match the sun-laden world and the warm-blooded counterparts. It’s not one of the punchiest-looking films out there today, but the film is pretty vibrant in its own right. In line with the well-saturated, muted colors, the black levels throughout are pretty fantastic, which is essential when it comes to creating a horrific atmosphere. Lastly, fine object detail is good, but not great. Sometimes the focal marks are missed entirely, or just slightly off-mark and as a result the image isn’t entirely sharp, but this is hardly commonplace. Much of the film looks wonderful.
Sadly though, there is a great deal of compression artifacts that can be seen throughout. Look closer at some of the included screenshots below, and you will surely agree. Pay close attention to the compression artifacts that can be found obscuring the natural facial texture of many of the actors throughout the screenshots. At first glance you might not catch them — particularly unlikely when the film is in motion — but once you freeze-frame or pause the film, it becomes very obvious that something is going on here. As for the the cause, I’m guessing that it’s likely a combination of the compression that went into making the Blu-ray transfer, on top of the natural digital noise that came out of shooting on the Panavision Genesis system. This is just a guess, and it may be that only one of those possibilities are true, or perhaps neither. Regardless of the origins though, the fact remains that there is indeed some compression artifacting going on, and it effects the overall image quality greatly, in my opinion. Additionally, there was a substantial amount of horizontal/vertical shearing/stair-stepping present throughout the film. I’ve included two screenshots where it should be very easy to see what I’m talking about. (for Justin: screenshots # 10 and 11) Here with the extreme contrast between the light and dark edges, you can clearly see that something is afoot. Look to Ethan Hawke’s shoulder, his cheek, the roof of the car. And the other, look to the root of the tree against the sunny background, and you should be able to see how jagged, and edgy the image can be from shot-to-shot. Thankfully, this isn’t present throughout the film, but it cropped up more than a few times, and certainly enough to dock the score.
All things considered, I feel that a “3.5 Star Rating” is the best that I can give this presentation for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio.
I have much less to say about the audio presentation provided here, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t impress me. In fact, the opposite is true. It ended up impressing me far more than the video element. First, the use of the surround back channels while not ever-present, was exceptional, I thought. I’ve heard my fair share of 7.1 mixes, and in general I think that action/horror films benefit the most from the additional two channels, and Daybreakers certainly fits that bill pretty well. And while I didn’t care much for the film itself, the audio presentation kept me thoroughly entertained, delighted and engaged. The LFE track isn’t overbearing, but it does get used quite a bit throughout, and it never really goes entirely dormant, which is nice. On a side note, I think the LFE channel is too-often overlooked for creating atmosphere in films, whether through sound effects, ambiance or the film’s score. At any rate, Daybreakers is interspersed with exploding vampires, exploding cars, gunfire, explosive crossbow bolts, shotguns and a myriad of other delightful action sound effects that are all rendered quite well here throughout the lossless mix. Dialog is rendered perfectly too, at least for the most part, only sounding slightly distant or buried on occasion. All in all, this lossless audio presentation is perfectly capable, and it will be, I imagine, the high point for most casual viewers/renters of this film, assuming they don’t enjoy the film. As such, I think that a “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality is entirely fitting here.
Bonus Materials are all presented in HD, and include Digital Copy and a killer, feature-length making-of documentary!
- LG Live – Here we have the usual fare: Gadgets (Weather/News/Clock), Twitter/Facebook Integration, and Wallpapers (three in total). Sadly, no ringtones, although I’m not sure exactly what they would have selected for these if they had.
- Metamenu – I did not test this remote application (as it costs money, and I refuse to pay for a remote application) but it looks somewhat promising, so long as it is offered for free at some point. Judging from the site, it appears to work similarly to the BD Touch remote, but also adds Gracenote-like meta data in-sync with the film while you watch. Nice, but really, don’t you want to be looking at the screen and not at your iWhatever? I know I would, and in this way, MovieIQ (from Sony, which uses Gracenote) just makes a whole lot more sense. Doesn’t it?
- BD Touch – This was my first experience using the BD Touch app, and I have to say, it’s rather nice, especially because it is FREE (that one’s for you, Metamenu). But seriously, it’s nice. Currently, it only works with my PS3 because it is the only player with a wireless connection, but the responsiveness and functionality was quite good, I found. Also — and this depends on the disc — there were two exclusive video downloads that were available through the BD Touch explorer. The first was a trailer for Undead, and the second was the short film The Big Picture that is also included in HD as a special feature on this disc. Very nice.
- BonusView – Storyboards/Animatics – Using BonusView, we’re treated to real-time picture-in-picture storyboards and animatic sequences that correspond to the scenes on screen. A nice feature that too few films opt to use these days, I think.
- Commentary with The Spierig Brothers and Steve Boyle – A lively and highly informative commentary that helps round out the overall bonus material package, and one that acts as a great supplement to the “making-of” feature-length documentary that it is included here. Die-hard fans should most definitely check this out.
- “The Making of Daybreakers” (2:01:38) – A massive feature-length (a longer running time than the film itself, actually) making-of-documentary that is broken up into four stages, ranging from pre-production up until the completion of the film, and beyond. Fans of the film will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on this, and even folks like me who didn’t like the film that much, should be able to enjoy this documentary. It’s extremely well made, very thorough, and even entertaining, perhaps even inspiring. This feature comes highly recommended from me, and in fact it may just be worth the price of the disc itself. It’s fantastic.
- “‘The Big Picture’ – Spierig Brothers Short Film” (13:51) – An excellent short film concept that has a great finish. I know it’s a just a short film, but you can really see here that the Spierig Brothers have a lot of potential. Must see film, for sure.
- Poster Art Gallery – A small collection of poster art, eight posters in total.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:27)
- Lionsgate Previews
- Digital Copy
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.