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From watching John C. Reilly over the years, in everything from 'Hoffa' and 'Dolores Claiborne' when he was developing his craft, to 'Step Brothers' and 'Carnage', in which he was one of the leading actors that the film was centered on, I really wanted this film to work for me, though I feel in this recent glut of cinema spawned from Hollywood's post-'Twilight' obsession with vampires, that someone really needs to give this trend a coffin rest, at least for a while so creative fires can have a chance to rekindle--it seems to have been done to death. I'm sure this wasn't what Bram Stoker had in mind with his original 'Dracula'. There's nothing in these recent CGI-bloated messes meaty enough to sink one's teeth into. I'm sure Dr. Alucard himself is cursing the day he was granted immortality, if only to avoid his local multiplex, for this very reason.

Like another recent film I tried to get into, but basically flew off the rails in an enormous video game-like tidal wave of effects I neither wanted nor needed to see ('Your Highness' by David Gordon Green), the filmmakers ill-advisedly thought that the audience had to be captivated by fights and chases galore, but it's like seeing yet another explosion in a Michael Bay movie: Just give me: a) Great presence in an actor, for once, like the Sir Christopher Lees, Sir Peter Cushings, Vincent Prices, Boris Karloffs and Bela Lugosis of yesteryear; b) A story worth telling; and c) A director who knows a thing or two about storytelling--otherwise, I'd rather boycott drinking blood, and simply switch, at least for contemporary film, to a different cup of tea. I'm not surprised whatsoever that this didn't do well at the box office, and that filmmakers decided not to continue with the franchise. Even for vampires, sometimes enough is enough for a lifetime.

I found this movie pretty much by accident when flicking through the Netflix catalogue. I thought what the heck and started to watch it. My hopes were really not that high. Actually I am not sure I had any hopes at all since I just stumbled on the movie and started to watch it on a whim. What I found was a rather okay and fun movie actually.

The movie is apparently based on popular book series Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan. Unfortunately, in their usual arrogant manner, the Hollywood moguls decided to rip the books appart and mash together book one and two in this movie. It appears the general consensus is, not surprisingly, that the books are better than the movie. Nevertheless, the movie was good enough that I most probably will have a go at reading at least one of the books in the series.

The movie itself then? Actually I liked it more than I expected. It took a little while before it got started but once it got going it was a good teenage magical fantasy adventure. I am actually a bit saddened that it appears there was never any sequels using the other books in the series.

The name Cirque du Freak is well chosen. This is not the usual bunch of people with magical abilities or fangs or some of the other attributes you usually see in magic or supernatural movies. The members of the Cirque are freaks in every sense of the word. I do not think I have seen such a bunch of weird and bisarre creatures before. Heck, the vampire that takes Darrel as his assistant is probably the most normal of the bunch.

The story is quite okay and the acting acceptable. The vampire, Creepsly, felt a bit underwhelming at first but he grew on me. So did Mr. Tiny who I definitely didn’t like at first but found doing quite a good job of playing the evil mastermind towards the end. His sleaziness was downright creepy.

I am sure a lot of the story and character development from the books were left out because there is so much more that could have been done with the story. Darrel befriending the snake man, the brewing romance, Darrels relation with Creapsley and all the other interactions and characters that took place. If the producer had wanted to do a good job he could easily have added another 40 minutes to the movie. A shame he did not.

Bottom line, watching this movie was a pleasant experience. It is perhaps not a blockbuster but a nice little adventure, magic, supernatural and fantasy gem.

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