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CIRQUE DU FREAK : The Vampire's Assistant, 2009
A traveling freak show's most mysterious attraction recruits teenager Darren Shan as his assistant, though the young man soon finds himself used as a pawn in a battle between vampires and their deadlier counterparts.
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If you check the 2009 movie reviews on this site and click on the genre categories, you will notice the Cirque du Freak will be on almost every single page. It's a Action meets Adventure meets Comedy meets Fantasy meets Horror meets Thriller film. And some would even consider this a bit Sci-Fi too. This is a film that crosses every main genre but never is really one genre. And the vampire genre doesn't count...yet!
I always believed that a film must lead with one genre. Of course most comedies have romantic subplots for example, but we watch first and foremost because it's a comedy. Just like how most crime movies are dramas too, but most of us will be interested because it's a crime film. But it has to be described at one thing first in order for the audiences to become emotionally involved.
>OR perhaps I'm simplifying things and labeling movies is the main problem with the cinema these days. A movie should just be a movie first. I get that but a film like Cirque du Freak I feel needs to find its tone first and foremost before filming begins. And the tone right now is a bit muddled. So who's going to be happy with this film? Either you go all the way and give us a horror film set in this fantasy world OR you camp it up and play on the comedy while we enter this fantasy world. There needs to be a choice made. You can't have both.
Cirque du Freak is a lot of things without really being one main thing. Structurally it's a coming of age story about two best friends who will end up as vampires. And if you've been following many comic book set up stories you know what happens to two best friends. One tends to go in one direction while the other goes in the other. It seems that in order to be enemies one must be best friends with that person first. X-Men, Spider-man, Superman, Sonic the Hedgehog come to mind. Time for this story to go on hiatus for awhile.
The coming of age storyline has also become a bit tired. This was another case where we wanted the other interesting characters to be the main focus and not the boring boy who needs to learn how to become a man angle.
Cirque du Freak reminded me a lot of WANTED (2008) where we meet a boy who enters this mysterious land and becomes mentored by many people. Problem is that we want to find out more about his mentors than himself.
What made these characters tick? Who is this vampire Larten Crepsley (played extremely well by John C Reilly)? And his sexy girlfriend who also grows a beard (Salma Hayek who is still sexy with facial hair)? And what about the other freaks in the camp?
Does this 21st century still care about the normal middle-class boy who enters a whole new world angle? We get this character by now because we've seen it so much. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, the Bible!!?? We get it.
What made recent films like Batman and Iron Man work so well was because those were main characters who have already established their inner-self and moral code. They are flawed humans of course because we all are. But they have already been through that figuring it out stage. And the audiences are already been through it too and we don't need to see it anymore.
Cirque du Freak is an interesting film with interesting characters but with a tired main plot. We don't want to see these stories anymore? Got it?