Sam Neill Update: Dad Edition

According to my spreadsheet, I’m about 82% done with this project! So far I have spent roughly 99 hours watching Sam Neill movies and TV. Which is insane. But I’ve been at this for more than 8 months now.

This week I watched three movies where Sam Neill is a father figure!! Dads might be tied with crazy people and mean businessmen for Sam Neill’s Most Acted Roles. And one of today’s characters might just be all three!

Daybreakers (2009)

Like the Matrix with vampires instead of machines

The Movie: Vampires are now the dominant species on the planet! Houses and cars have UV protection shields, everyone drinks blood in their coffee, and humans are captured and rounded up for use in blood farms. Except they’re running out of blood and as starvation sets in they begin to turn into creepy bat-monsters with none of the suave coolness we expect from our modern vampires. But don’t worry! Sam Neill’s company is on the case! His scientists are totally trying to find a blood substitute that doesn’t make the drinker… explode violently. Except then his most brilliant scientist/secret human sympathizer gets kidnapped by humans!

Doesn't matter how attractive you are; you'll always look stupid in fake vampire teeth

Also, his name’s Edward, but this was oddly never played for irony. At Secret Human Refugee Camp, Edward meets an ex-vampire hillbilly named Elvis, who somehow got turned human one day during a car accident that exposed him to the sun and then plunged him into a lake to stop the burning. Because that… makes sense…? Whatever, they pull the same stunt on Edward and he’s cured! Unfortunately, his vampire brother tracks him down and bites Elvis… and then he’s cured too? Apparently biting an ex-vampire is also a… because… WHATEVER TIME TO TAKE DOWN THE BIG BOSS. Ed basically tricks Sam Neill into biting him, thus curing him of his vampirism, and then leaves him tied up so that his sweet human blood will distract the guards, who then take part in a disturbing feeding/becoming human/getting eaten cycle of gore. The final shot is Elvis driving our heroes into the sunrise, setting off to cure the rest of vampire society.

And yet, the plot still makes more sense than any other movie about a vampire named Edward I can think of

Regardless of the questionable idea of a “vampire cure”, I still liked this movie. It was interesting to see a conception of what a vampire society would be like, and also a slightly different take on vampire mythology than I’ve seen before i.e. that they only become monster-like when deprived of human blood.

The Character: Sam Neill plays Charles Bromley, the vampire CEO of a company that supplies the vampire world with blood. Unlike other randomly ruthless businessmen he’s played, Charles actually has a sympathetic back story, in that he was about to die of cancer before becoming a vampire. Yay, more time to spend with his daughter! Except she thinks vampires are monsters and goes into hiding.

Whatever, Sam Neill is the CLASSIEST vampire

Sam Neill hires Edward’s brother to track her down and make her one of them, but then she goes crazy and willingly turns herself into a starved bat monster, and Sam Neill has no choice but to order her execution along with the others. So probably not getting anything great for Father’s Day this year.

What I Learned: Vampires are easy to spot because they have glow-in-the-dark yellow eyes.

You should watch this if you like: actually scary vampires; “science”

Bicentennial Man (1999)

171 excruciating minutes of Robin Williams

The Movie: Unlike a lot of the movies I’ve watched for this project, it’s possible you’ve seen this one. It’s based on an Asimov story and I remember it being kind of a big deal when it came out. Or at least, I remember people talking about it, which is more than I can say for most movies from this project. I don’t remember why I didn’t see it at the time, but my guess would be because it’s over two hours long but feels like five. Robin Williams is an android named Andrew acquired by Sam Neill for his family. His wife and older daughter are creeped out by it, but his younger daughter forms a nauseating attachment to it. Unlike other robots, Andrew can build and create because of some kind of mechanical anomaly. The robot eventually gains its freedom, travels the world to search for others of its kind, and comes back with a body upgrade to make it look like Robin Williams, because of course that’s what you would choose. Then it falls in love with Sam Neill’s great-granddaughter and petitions the world court for human rights, eventually installing its own mortality so that it and its marriage to a human woman can be considered real.

Yeah, Sam Neill died in the first third of this movie but I kept on watching. For you.

The Character: Sam Neill plays Richard Martin, the dad who originally purchases Andrew for his family. He’s the one most excited about the technology, and stands up for Andrew’s rights when the company tries to recall him and reprogram him to be a “normal” robot. He also decides to teach Andrew about life, but crankily refuses to let him buy his freedom, eventually banishing him from the house because of it, only to repent on his death bed. Still unclear on if he would sanction his descendant’s sketchy robot union.

Also he and his wife drink wine and play chess in the evening. Because they are enlightened future people.

I guess I just found it hard to suspend my disbelief. Like, if you are going to marry an aging robot, why one that looks like Robin Williams?

What I Learned: Robots are just as boring as people.

You should watch this if you like: long, drawn out stories about feelings

The Zookeeper (2001)

It's tough being a father figure to a kid with an AK-47 and a nicotine addiction

The Movie: Ludovic stays behind after everyone else evacuates the Eastern European city where he works as a zookeeper because someone has to look out for these animals! The soldiers are threatening and scary, and it’s possible that he and the animals both will starve to death or be killed in fiery explosions. Eventually a badass old-before-his-time street child and his mother seek refuge in the zoo, and Ludovic is gruff and annoyed, but tries to hide them from the soldiers. After a final night of heavy bombing during which most of the animals die, Ludovic finally agrees to leave the zoo and escape with the mother and son. Of course the mother is dramatically shot just when you think everyone is safe, but Ludovic, the boy, and a cute wolf puppy all make it to a UN camp.

Also, this happens, and suddenly EVERYTHING IS WORTH IT I LOVE YOU SAM

The Character: Sam Neill is Ludovic, who seems to have a lot of demons in his past. He really just wants to hide from the outside world inside the zoo, keeping to his quiet routine without being bothered. But the sad little boy with his chilling willingness to shoot a man for cigarettes eventually wins his pity, and he tries to help him realize that some things Aren’t His Fault, and it’s okay to cry or feel sad. Sam Neill’s Eastern European accent was a little weird, but I think that’s just because I’m so used to his regular one.

Also, at one point he bribes the mean soldier captain to go away with a baby lion

What I Learned: Sam Neill explains to his doomed veterinarian friend that even if a bottle seems empty, there’s always 13 drops left. Truly, hope springs eternal.

You should watch this if you like: grim war movies; children with PTSD, animals!!

Previously: Creepster Edition
Next: Prime Minister, Soviet Sub Captain, Master Criminal

4 responses to “Sam Neill Update: Dad Edition”

  1. Brian says:

    Do they actually show people putting blood in their coffee? Does blood come in little creamer packets? That’s such a fun idea. Well in reality it isn’t but in movie land it’s pretty awesome.

  2. […] Previously: Ruthless Businessman, Ex-Prison Guard, Sad Husband Next: Dad Edition […]

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