Writer: Hanna ZainalWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Harry Potter", "Twilight"
From the many book adaptations turned to movies, along comes another one in for the ride. This time, it's from the 12-book British series of vampire books, The Saga of Darren Shan. Coming hot on the heels of other popular vampire adaptations, the movie is sure to gain some comparison with that other
At first look, the movie looks decent enough. Two best friends get sucked into a war being waged by two rival vampire factions, the Vampires and the Vampaneze, when they stumble upon a travelling freak show, sort of like a circus performance. It all started when vampire obsessed fan, Steve (Josh Hutcherson) drags his hapless best friend Darren (newcomer Chris Massoglia) to the performance. Through a series of events, we see the consequences when Darren becomes a half-vampire (with 'super spit' powers) in order to save Steve's life. Thus, begins the story of how the two boys end up on opposite divides fighting for different causes that fuel them.
Director Chris Weitz, who previously directed "American Pie", "About A Boy", and "In Good Company", now tries his hand at directing a fantasy flick. Unfortunately, the director falls short of his target. Even though he's blessed with a cast that includes John C. Reilly as vampire Larten Crepsley, Ken Watanabe as leader of the cirque Mr Tall, Salma Hayek as the bearded Madame Truska, and Willem Dafoe as the fake-moustached vampire Gavner Purl, they can hardly save the film from being flat and lifeless.
Yes, Reilly gives a great performance as vampire Larten but the other characters, understandably minor characters, are not fleshed out as well as they could have been. While this reviewer, prior to watching the movie had never read any of the books, and therefore cannot compare it. It does take a while to warm up to the story if you're not familiar with the books. It somehow feels that the movie rushed through some aspects - understandable, considering that it's a condensation of the first three books in the series.
One of the most memorable lines uttered in the movie is by one of the 'freaks', who says, "It's not about what you are; it's about who you are." Though the line is cliche as ever, it works well with the theme of the movie that touches on friendship, loyalty, and the coming-of-age of teenagers into adulthood.
Towards the end of the movie, though hinting at a sequel, the film's response in the US was less than favourable when it released in late October 2009. According to Variety, the film only made a paltry US$6.3 million on opening weekend at the box office.Cinema Online, 16 December 2009