I was IN LOVE with the books and so I had to see the movie, but I was a broke high schooler when it came out (or a broke college student, i forget when it came out) and then forgot, but the important thing is that I saw it today!
The writer gets yelled at for this one. They decided to combine the first 3 Cirque Du Freak books, and then threw stuff in from the 11th and 12th for no good reason. They made characters who were never good nor evil decidedly evil and revealed plot secrets that will keep the story from ever progressing. Honestly, if I was Darren Shan (the writer of the books) I would be pissed.
So forget Cirque Du Freak the books, here is the (horrendous) movie plot:
Darren Shan was a well behaved and generally good boy until one day he slipped out of his house to go to a freak show with his more wild and trouble causing best friend Steve. At the show Steve calls a performer out for being a Vampire. Darren, who loves spiders, is enchanted by this “Vampire” ‘s pet, a strange tarantula (which is so obviously bad CGI that even I, a horrible arachnophobic, was unimpressed) who is said to be extremely venomous. Ok, forget that the spider acts more like a dog than anything.
Anyways, Darren decides he HAS to have the spider, so he sneaks back stage when the show is interrupted by cops and nabs the crawler. He hides in a closet to hear a very awkwardly scripted and generally embarrassing dialogue between a completely forgettable “Vampire” and the one from the show.
You basically learn that Vampires do not kill humans when they feed, and are in the middle of a very tenuous treaty with the Vampaneze, Vampires who kill humans. A Vampire general was killed and so they need to get revenge, but don’t want the war to start again. The conversation is interrupted by Steve who runs in demanding to be blooded and talking about how he hates life. Creepsley, the Vampire, suddenly decides to test the boys blood, says it is evil, and rejects it. Steve gets pissy and leaves.
Next Darren escapes the closet through a secret door and is picked up outside by Tiny, a fat man with a creepy Vampaneze. He basically threatens Darren, but honestly it sounds more like pedophilia bait… Whatever. Darren gets dumped back at home.
In school later Steve catches him with Octa, the spider. Octa gets loose and tries to escape (by lifting windows… like a said, more of a dog or human than spider 99% of the time). Steve attacks her and so she bites him. In order to save Steve’s life Darren agrees to become a half-vampire assistant to Creepsley, who suddenly, in the middle of ranting about how he doesn’t want Darren and hates Steve, decides to test his blood. It’s good, so he turns him into a Vamp in literally 1 second.
Darren’s death is faked, the evil Vampaneze attacks while he’s being dug up. He goes to live with the Cirque Du Freak (The traveling freak show) and makes friends. Meanwhile Steve, who figured out pretty damn fast what happened), is turned by the Vampaneze and becomes evil, killing a teacher and taking Darren’s family and new Cirque friends hostage. Everyone fights in a theater.
There is no arching plot to the story, just several separate things. All of which amount to a depressingly under-written yet over-written movie. Worse even that the half-filmed movie “Airbender”.
It’s weird that this is getting a low score. John C. Reilly is NOT usually a bad actor. He plays Creepsley here. I don’t think his acting is bad here, but the jerkiness of the script and directing makes him out to be. Take any single sentence and he’s perfect, but when you put them all together it’s just bad… I should rant about that in the “writing” critique though, nothing against Reilly.
The two lead boys, Steve and Darren, are awkward at best. They both seem determined to take the characters to some kind of 16-year-old idea of a “cool kid”. It’s really cheesy and cliche.
Some shots here work, some don’t. I think the directing really falls apart at the fight scenes. This director is more suited towards dramas or something with no major fighting. When the fighting starts they stick too close to the two fighting, and swap cameras around them constantly, so you can’t follow what is happening. At one point a character is somewhere in a back hallways and you don’t know how the hell they got there.
Writing: I hate you/5
You can easily, with a little editing, make the first two Cirque books a movie. But the first three are too different. You can mentally split the movie into 3 parts, each book. The action all takes place in the same area, and characters do that direct ask-and-answer thing as “Airbender”, what, as I said in the “Airbender” review, they teach you in the INTRODUCTORY Film Production classes at my college is evil and never under any circumstances to be done. The dialogue is awkward at it’s best moment, and often can’t balance between relaxed and severe emotions. The story is choppy and they totally ruined the series.
I hope no other “Cirque” movies are made. If they are, they will need to start from scratch. A new cast is mandatory. A new director and writer are too. Or at least an aid for the Director who can help with the fight scenes. The whole movie drips of awkward, it’s worse than “Eragon”…
The movie overall isn’t horrible, but it’s depressing as hell after the masterpiece of the books.