Monday, October 22, 2007

Movie Review: 30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night must have hit the big screen in America already. Why else would there be a movie review about it on Wizard Universe?

On a completely unrelated note (ok, SOMEWHAT related), I still haven't even watched Stardust yet! And it's coming to the end of its Australian theatrical release already...must have been at least a month since its release. I haven't heard anything about it though, which might be an indication that, unfortunately, it might not be that great a movie or an adaptation that a lot of people originally would have thought.

Ah well. I'll wait for the DVD release to rent it then.

Director David Slade wisely riffs off Ben Templesmith’s art in the big-screen adaptation of IDW’s terrifying vampire tale

By Brian Warmoth

Posted October 19, 2007 9:05 AM

Even since “Sin City” set a mile-high bar on the potential for filmmakers to cut big fat slices of style straight out of comics and take art direction to a whole new level on the big screen, the task of translating great graphic novels to film and being true to their original looks has been daunting.

Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night presented the formidable challenge of taking place almost entirely without sunlight: “The Blair Witch Project” already milked that gimmick for all it was worth. Thankfully, David Slade, director of the big-screen version of “30 Days of Night,” opening today, poured in plenty of frigid ambient lighting and left the heavy lifting of Templesmith’s vision to his costume designers and makeup artists, who crafted a whole horde of vampires with nearly fluorescent red messes wrapped down their throats.

The head-thwackingly obvious yet original concept of the IDW graphic novel is still intact. A gang of fanged blood-drinkers descends on the northernmost town in Alaska during its annual 30 days in the dark, isolating it from civilization and making it prime fodder for the toothy ones. Many of the vampire gang’s members are replicated with actors so well made up that a cursory glance can identify a handful of the characters from the book before anything gruesome happens. The flipside of this visually stunning accomplishment is that the film glazes over most of the character development that took place in Niles’ original story—understandable given the time constraints of commercial film, but a loss for the story in terms of the diabolical plot that brings the vampires to Barrow, Alaska.

Templesmith’s signature style—often imitated, but rarely successfully—made the most of its dark setting, and breathed between realism and blood-curdling carnage like no other art in comics. Slade found the perfect median between the two extremes while exercising visually coy restraint in all the right places. The scariest scenes in this film are the ones you see taking place from an obscured angle or from outside of a shadowy corner.

Josh Hartnett proves yet again that he’s more than just a Hollywood prettyboy, though casting him seems to reduce the age of his character and his estranged wife significantly from the book. He makes an ideally sympathetic face leading into the story and convincingly makes the pupil-dilating transition into the story’s emotional ending.

“30 Days of Night” shares its biggest weakness with its source material, which is the month-long time period at a skipping pace. The film is helpful with its cues from scene to scene, which spell out how many days are being bypassed in a cut, but little evidence is given of what has taken place, if anything, between cuts, which sometimes puts the brakes on the movie’s momentum.

To Slade’s credit, however, the lulls in suspense during “30 Days of Night” are dependably answered by a surprise mini-climax and the expected loss of a character. For the horror fan, this film is a fresh take on an otherwise diluted genre, just in time for Halloween. And for the comic book reader, this is an adaptation to make fanboys proud.

No comments: