(On DVD, October 2017) Even at a time when we think we’ve seen it all with vampire movies, there’s a curious energy at play in The Lost Boys, which improbably blends comic tropes with a theme taken from Peter Pan in order to deliver a rather good horror-comedy. The idea of an idyllic Californian-coast town being home to a small group of vampires and becoming “the murder capital of the world” is amusing enough. But then there’s the protagonist falling in with bad influences, his brother getting acquainted with wannabe vampire killers who do end up being right, the mom hooking up with a suspiciously menacing shop owner … there are a lot of spinning plates here, and they all seem to belong to a slightly different genre. Surprisingly, it works—although there’s some freedom in clarifying that the film is not meant to be scrutinized too closely. Under Joel Shumacher’s direction, The Lost Boys is fast-paced, stylistically moody, generally enjoyable and, at times, an intriguing time capsule of mid-eighties conventions. The opening act is great, the middle act is good, but the third act does get a bit conventional, although still enjoyable in its own way. Jamie Gertz plays a convincing love interest, while Corey Haim and Jason Patric each have their own movie as brothers. Still, the highlight is a very young-looking Keifer Sutherland as the leader of the vampire pack. The themes are slight, but at least there’s something there that goes beyond the usual conventions of vampire movies until then. For the rest, The Lost Boys is a movie that has, through sheer daring and genre-blending, aged very well. It’s still worth a look, long after the vampire boom has come, gone and come back again.
(In theatres, April 2010) Ensemble action movies are making a minor comeback in 2010, but sneaking in before The A-Team and The Expendables is this cheap, fast and grandly entertaining comic book adaptation. The Losers isn’t that good a movie: The limited budget sometimes shows (especially for those who remember the source material’s hyperactive globe-trotting), coincidences abound and the action set pieces seldom make sense. But those flaws are arguably what enables this film to be a fun throwback to the unapologetic Bruckheimeresque action movies of the late nineties. The set-pieces make up in eye-popping originality what they lack in coherence, while the quips fly fast and sarcastic. Thankfully for an ensemble picture, it’s the characters that bring The Losers above its B-grade material: Each one has a few things to do, and while Chris Evans and Zoe Saldana generally steal the focus away from Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s role as the leader of the bunch, Jason Patric has a surprisingly odd turn as the overwritten villain of the picture. Sylvain White’s direction is hit-and-miss, but there are a few new tricks here and while the picture moves quickly, it doesn’t lose viewers in a flurry of incoherent cuts –which is another thing that The Losers does better than the rest of its recent action movie brethren. Fans of the original comic book series will be disappointed to see that Andy Diggle’s geopolitical set-pieces have been toned down, pleased to note that the evil plot is completely different and generally amused to see dialogue bits, action moments and characterization details moved around: Most of what’s in this film follows the first two of the series’ five volumes, while the ending sets up at least another film in the series. Box-office results may not guarantee that (it’s the kind of picture that generally appeals to a very specific audience), but I would certainly welcome a bit more time with the characters and their globe-trotting vengeance.