The Flying Fortress

Daybreakers: Diesel Bloodsuckers

Posted in Aesthetics by seraphimish on February 14, 2010

While not the most revolutionary movie, Daybreakers spins the vampire craze on its head and creates a world where not only do vampires populate and rule almost the whole world, but it also brings a bona fide diesel feel to its world.

It’s 2017, and vampires have taken over the world.  Sure, there are a few cool technological advances like cars with “daytime mode” which blocks all sunlight from the cabin and gives you a 360-degree video feed of outside and really spartan apartments that even the characters all but loathe.  But what caught my eye in this spin on a futuristic world was the ostensible hearkening to what else but the sexy diesel look that we all know and love.

The movie opens up with our invisible-in-mirror protagonist Ethan Hawke in French cuffs, a sensible hat, and a kickin’ jacket.  Almost everyone in the movie is constantly smoking, as though to make sure that the clean surroundings are intentionally forced hazy.  The coffee kiosk in the subway was most certainly the biggest tip-off that this was going to be a visually appealing movie to me.  Unfortunately, the style didn’t survive the whole two hours, and by the halfway point I had all but forgotten that the movie had ever attempted a look beyond the expected (with the notable exception of Willem Dafoe’s character’s Mustang and Firebird).

The themes of the film were also equally disappointing.  Despite the prominent role that a suppressive military holds in the plot, there is almost no substantial philosophy in the plot.  And instead of perhaps a more introspective look at humanity, the societal tiers of humans as nothing more than food and the bat-like, deformed population known as subsiders are all but ignored.  The universe certainly had a great deal of substance that, I felt, was unfortunatley squandered for the sake of time.

Despite the surrender of its style, Daybreakers still gave me hope to see more of the diesel fashion in movies, be they past or future.  Also, Ethan Hawke must be inextricably drawn to these diesel-cum-biopunk roles.  This is the second time he has fought what his body has been burdened with, looking straight outta the prohibition era while doing so.

Did anyone else see the movie and quiver with excitement at the potential of a more nuanced diesel world only to be disappointed by not only the escape of diesel, but of the plot as a whole?  Who finds it interesting that the future and the occult still have this unexplainable ability to blend so well with dieselpunk?

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