Daybreakers (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 15-Jun-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror/Sci-Fi Audio Commentary-Spierig Brothers, Steve Boyle
Featurette-Making Of-(120.38)
Storyboard Comparisons
Gallery-Poster
Theatrical Trailer-(2.21)
Short Film-The Big Picture (13.51)
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 97:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Spierig
Peter Spierig
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Harriet Minto-Day
Jay Laga'aia
Damien Garvey
Sahaj Dumpleton
Allan Todd
Gabriella Di Labio
Ben Siemer
Peter Welman
Ethan Hawke
Callum McLean
Jarrad Pon
Case ?
RPI ? Music Christopher Gordon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 (4608Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Films don't come much more high concept than Daybreakers. It is the near future. A plague has swept the Earth turning most of the population into vampires. These are old school vampires - stay out of sunlight, glowing eyes, cast no reflection, etc. The remaining human population were offered a choice - assimilate or become food. A few years on and a problem becomes apparent - there are too many vampires and not enough human subjects. Peak Blood has been reached! The answer is to be found in the quest for a blood substitute. Or so it seems.

     When we first meet Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) he is a haematologist working with Chris Caruso (Vince Collosimo) on a synthetic blood substitute. Edward’s brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) is a soldier tasked with rounding up humans to fill the blood coffers.

     The initial test is a bloody failure leaving vampiric corporation head Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) more than a little concerned. There are riots on the streets as the blood stocks dwindle and, what's worse, the blood deprived vampires are mutating into feral "subsiders". A solution must be found before society collapses.

     Enter humans Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) and Lionel "Elvis" Cormac (Willem Dafoe). A chance encounter with Edward leads to the possibility that there might just not only be a solution but an actual cure for vampirism. But in this complex new world there are forces that don't look forward to such radical change and Edward and the humans must fight against time to prove that the cure works and convince those in control to adopt it before the forces of darkness prevail.

     Daybreakers is the second feature of Australian writer/directors the Spierig Brothers (Michael and Peter) after their genre hit Undead. Financed with Australian money and featuring a mainly Aussie cast (albeit with A-may-ree-can accents) it is a remarkably assured second feature which almost throws off the genre shackles. There is a lot of blood about and a few scares but this is more a science fiction film than a horror movie. The Spierig Brothers are clearly genre fans but they are crafty filmmakers who had a clear sense of how their film should look, sound and feel. From the highly impressive credit sequence through the dystopian middle to the blood spilling conclusion Daybreakers is a real charmer and a movie that will become a cult flick in a few years. The actors attack the film in the right spirit and it coasts through its 90 plus minutes without a dull moment.

     Of course, there are weaknesses. The film is at times too bloody for its serious ideas and the "cure" for vampirism seems like a plot device wrought over too many beers. But for all this, go with the spirit and enjoy a fun, sometimes scary, experience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Daybreakerswas shot using a combination of 35mm film and HD video. It was printed on 35mm film stock for cinema projection and was shown at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this Blu-ray release.

     This is a stunning Blu-ray from beginning to end. The film cost about $20 million but looks like at least double that on the screen. There are two environments in the film - the vampire world and the human. One is forever shrouded in night, with steel greys, blacks and blues dominating. The transfer handles the blacks really well and everything else looks coolly crisp. There is a light grain throughout.

     The occasional splash of red brings colour to the proceedings. The human world is full of golden hues, greens and life colours. Flesh tones for the humans are accurate.

     There are no technical problems with the transfer despite the wealth of extra material on the dual layered 50GB Blu-ray.

     There are subtitles in English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Spanish. The English subs give a good account of the on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Daybreakers carries a rare DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. Most Blu-rays soundtracks are 5.1 so it presents the audiophile with a chance to test the range and separation of those other speakers. Unfortunately, at present that is not me. In a few months I will have a 7.1 set-up and can report further. At present I can only say how it sounds in a 5.1 set-up. The answer is, remarkably good.

     This is a punchy soundtrack. There are multiple surround effects used - gunfire, vampiric shrieks, gunning engines. It is a sonic feast that is well handled by the transfer. The sub-woofer booms on cue.

     There are no technical flaws with the track.

     The score for the film is by Christopher Gordon, composer of the music for Mao's Last Dancer and Master and Commander. On the commentary track one of the Spierig Brothers mentions how the score was intended to hark back to film noir and the effect is exactly as intended. This is a score which is lush at times and driving at others. It is a perfect accompaniment to the mood of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Daybreakers comes as a comprehensively featured Blu-ray release. Sony is to be commended for the wealth of extras and the commitment to interactive Blu-rays. Having an early model Blu-ray player without Profile 2.0 support means that I cannot take advantage of some of these features but they are appreciated nonetheless.

Commentary Track - The Spierig Brothers and Designer Steve Boyle

     An excellent commentary track from the team. These are young, lively guys so the track never bogs down. It is full of detail about the production and the themes of the film. The Brothers are open about their influences and their homages. One of the best commentary tracks in recent memory.

Making of Daybreakers

     This is a 2 hour Making of feature. The depth of material is stunning. The feature is divided into 4 sections : Early Development, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production, with each section broken down into sub-sections. There are interviews with the cast, crew and lots of input from the Spierig Brothers. Information sometimes doubles up from the commentary track but both can be enjoyed in combination without feeling short changed.

Short Film : The Big Picture

     This first film from the Spierig Brothers is a great effort with their trademark mordant wit running through. A woman blows off a date invitation from her neighbour. He gives her a flower which turns her TV set into a "future-scope", leading to a cheeky ending. Lots of fun.

Storyboard and Animatic Comparison

     This is a nifty feature for those with a filmmaking bent. The storyboards and CGI animatics play as a picture-in-picture during the film.

Theatrical Trailer

     Not surprisingly, the trailer for the film.

Metamenu

     This is a feature which allows you to sync your iPhone with the Blu-ray player and get reams of information about the film through an iPhone ap. I got the ap but had trouble getting it to work with my player. I was still able to access some of the information using the ap. Call it a work in progress.

Ticker/Gadgets

     Ever wanted to have a clock on your Blu-ray menu? Or a movie news ticker playing at the bottom of that menu? If your answer is "yes", then these options can be selected from the menu. In my view the utility of these options may not be great but they do point the way in the future for added benefits.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Daybreakers has been released in an identical format in Region A although the release does include a Digital Copy of the film.

Summary

    Daybreakers is a great little flick that is a step above similar genre efforts. I look forward to seeing the work of the talented writer/director brothers in the future. The Blu-ray is excellently presented both in sound and vision terms.

     The extras are comprehensive and ambitious and cannot be faulted. A three and a half star film gets and extra half for the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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