Movie Details

CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT

Young Darren Shan attends an illegal freak show with his best friend and decides to become a vampire`s assistant to save his best friend`s life. Forced to leave his home and family forever, Darren joins the freak show where he meets a host of bizarre creatures and finds himself at the centre of a war between the vampires and a rival clan.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 7 Jan 2010
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Running Time: 1 Hour 49 Minutes
Distributor: UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES
Cast: John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia, Ray Stevenson
Director: Paul Weitz
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Hanna Zainal

Writer Ratings:
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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 vampire movie.

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
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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