VideoVista logo
MONTHLY WEB-ZINE OF  
DVD & BLU-RAY REVIEWS
 
action | adventure | art | cartoon | comedy | cult | disaster | docu | drama | fantasy | horror | kung fu | monster | musical | parody | romance | satire | sequel | SF | sport | spy | surreal | 3D | thriller | TV | war | western
VideoVista covers rental and retail titles in all genres and movie or TV categories, with filmmaker interviews, auteur profiles, top 10 lists, plus regular prize draws.

HOME PAGE
INDEX OF ALL REVIEWS
SEARCH THIS SITE
COMPETITIONS
FORTHCOMING REVIEWS
TOP 10 LISTS
INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
RETRO REVIEWS SECTION
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTORS
READERS' COMMENTS
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
SITE MAP
LINKS


SUPPORT THIS SITE -
SHOP USING THESE LINKS

In Association with Amazon.com


visit other Pigasus Press sites...
The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies

April 2010

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

cast: John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Salma Hayek, Ken Watanabe, and Willem Dafoe

director: Paul Weitz

105 minutes (12) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Universal DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by James A. Stewart

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

It says it all about a film when the most memorable part of the whole experience is the opening credits, but alas, that much is true about Paul Weitz's adaptation of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, based rather loosely on the book by Darren Shan, the Irish author who curiously shares his name with film's main character and supposed hero.

Yes, the opening is quite excellent with brilliant art complimented by a wonderful soundtrack which has the heart racing and the audience thinking they are about to see something significant. As it is, the Americanisation of the opening stories in Shan's 12-part Cirque du Freak series leaves the film floundering in a sea of mediocrity.

The wooden acting of the two teen leads, Chris Massoglia as Darren, and Josh Hutcherson as Steve, is painful to bear at times. The two kids are best buddies, but are poles apart in terms of home-life and attitude. Mr Tiny, a quite awful bad guy who comes across more as a sleazy pervert than a fate shaping evildoer, influences Steve and Darren to visit the Cirque du Freak - an underground freak-show playing in a back alley theatre.

When there, Steve recognises Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) as a vampire and Darren becomes obsessed by the vampire's spider, and it is while he is in the act of stealing the arachnid he overhears Steve asking to be turned into a vampire by Crepsley. The scene which follows as a 16-year-old boy threatens revenge on a powerful vampire is ludicrous.

Things happen, most of them quite pointless and boring, and Darren is initiated as a half-vampire to save Steve's life. When his now former friend finds out about Darren's change he is indignant. It sets in motion a chain of events which result in Steve joining Mr Tiny's entourage to become a part of plans to bring the more human vampires to war with the bad-guy 'vampaneze', who kill for thrills. The resulting actions end a 200 year long truce.

Truth be known, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is a massive disappointment. The author declared himself happy with the outcome but it is hard to see how the touch of Hollywood has benefited what is a quite brilliant series of books. In the age of cynical exploitation of popular genres, it feels like the studio involved has decided to make a quick profit by fusing magical and vampiric elements, hamming up the love interest and throwing in a bit of action. As the story wears on it starts to feel rushed and the pace stutters like a Norman Collier stand-up show.

What makes all of this more annoying is that Weitz has done remarkably well with Crepsley's character and John C. Reilly really takes centre-stage, outshining the guys who are supposed to be leading this movie. Willem Dafoe is in the film for five minutes and you really wish it was longer, albeit it is clear the whole thing is setup for a few sequels as the film spends quite a bit of time foreshadowing upcoming action which will only happen if the sequels are made.

Salma Hayek as the Bearded Lady is rubbish at acting as usual but uses her favourite diversionary tactic of showing her ample cleavage in every scene she appears quite well. Another highlight is Ken Watanabe as the Tall Man, he is excellent and strikes fear, demands respect and is likable all at once. No mean feat.

Yep, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is pretty bland fare. Apart from a few notable performances it is all pretty forgettable, except the opening credits.



Premonitions in paperback - click to order

VideoVista copyright © 2001 - is published by PIGASUS Press