Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
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Index 149 reviews in total 

116 out of 163 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining Movie

8/10
Author: Karen from United States
26 January 2009

I watched a screening of this movie and loved it. I wasn't sure whether to expect a children's movie or adult movie, and it came out to be more like the latter. I grew up reading & watching "Goosebumps", and this movie made me feel like I was watching a "Goosebumps" film tailored for adults.

John C. Reilly does a really great job acting; it's nice to see him do something more challenging again. If you are turned off by his work in movies like Walk Hard, Talladega Nights, etc., give him a chance in this movie. He really impressed me. Patrick Fugit was my favorite actor in the film; his character was visually an eyesore but also in some odd way incredibly adorable. And Chris Massoglia, of course, was a great lead actor.

I would watch this film again when it officially comes out in theaters.

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40 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Well done (coming from a fan of the books!)

8/10
Author: Joejoesan from Amsterdam, The Netherlands
12 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a big fan of the vampire books by Irish writer Darren Shan I wasn't particularly looking forward to seeing Cirque du Freak: A vampire's assistant. Sometimes you should let a book be a book. And judging by the movie trailers the casting looked all wrong and the main character seemed too boring and too American to my taste. But in the end curiosity won and I went to see it anyway.

The vampire saga of Darren Shan consists of 12 books (four trilogies) and aims at kids aged 11-14. None other than JK Rowling was a big fan of this series so comparisons to Harry Potter were made very soon. What the two series have in common is the scope of the story. The tale of Darren Shan also has a Voldemort and a big (but very misty) showdown (in the last book). Like Harry Potter Darren Shan is drawn into a mysterious but exciting new world. Both teenagers must learn to control their power and learn the ways of being a new sort of being (wizard or vampire). So obviously there is a connection.

The movie is loosely based on the first trilogy, Vampire Blood. Darren Shan is an ordinary 16 year old teenager with a big fascination for spiders. One day he and his best friend Steve go to a real freakshow, where they meet vampire Larten Crepsley. Steve wants to become a vampire because his life stinks anyway. But Crepsley decides to chose Darren as his vampire student. So Darren fakes his death and moves to the camping ground of the Cirque du Freak. He befriends a snake boy, a monkey girl and a woman with a beard and tries to go on with his (vampire) life. But he soon finds out that the vampire world is on the brink of a full scale war between vampires (the kind that only drinks human blood and takes what it needs) and the Vampaneze (vampires who kill the humans they drink from). And somehow both parties think that Darren is destined to play a big part in this war…

Watching this movie I tried to forget all the things I knew from the books. And yes, this movie experience turned out to be a very enjoyable one.

Chris Massoglia (The Hole) looked miscast at first as Darren Shan. But as the story progresses you can see why he was chosen. His innocence works very well and you can see him develop into the hero he will one day be. In my imagination Larten Crepsley was more serious than the one given us by actor John C. Reilly (Chicago ). But I did enjoy his version of the experienced vampire mentor in the movie. But to me Josh Hutcherson (Journey to the centre of the earth) was best cast as Steve. Steve hates the world and his character will play a major part in the rest of the story (= other books). There's a lot of evil in Steve, but in this movie it remains at the surface. Sort of. As fans of the books all know, he's capable of doing much more damage.

The pace of the movie is pretty good: there's a lot to be told here. There's a lot of humour in it (the books were pretty serious) and the voice-over by Darren Shan works very well. Especially the first 20 minutes (with the actual freakshow) were well done. Salma Hayek looks stunning with beard and actually gets more screen time than in the books. Too bad her acting isn't always that convincing. Ken Watanabe is a great Mr. Tall, the boss of Cirque du Freak. He gives the movie a great mysterious quality.

Okay, then the bad things. Sometimes the acting and action scenes were bad. Some of the effects looked fake. And the fact that it all ended with an ordinary rumble was a disappointment. The ending seemed very rushed. But what really let me down were the mysterious Mr. Tiny and his army of Little People. In the books Mr. Tiny is a cold hearted man who's so scary and powerful that every word he uses can be felt as a dagger in your heart. But in the movie he's just a silly old bald man who talks too much. His army of Little People – Jawa like creatures he raised from the dead – seemed too computer generated and looked like a pitiful low-budget effort to imitate Gollum. Too bad.

But overall I really enjoyed Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. It's a good introduction to the vampire world of Darren Shan and I sincerely hope that the movie will be so successful that there will be a part 2. Because when Darren, Crepsley and Little Creature Harkat travel to Vampire Mountain , that's when the real fun begins!

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54 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Brought a Surprising Smile to My Face

8/10
Author: racker-5 from United States
24 October 2009

This movie was actually very entertaining. I didn't expect much going in but I actually liked the story. While I thought it was going to be a Twilight ripoff, I think it actually made in fun of Twilight a little bit--which made for great fun. The acting was better than expected. I was especially surprised by John C. Reilly. I absolutely loved his character! I agree with others when I say that it's actually refreshing to see him in a more serious role. The movie was interesting, unique, caring, and humorous. I definitely recommend seeing the movie. I think it's going to be a great series. I look forward to seeing the next movie.

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73 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

Funny and Dark

9/10
Author: dhmtn from Austin, TX, USA
26 September 2009

I just saw this movie at Fantastic Fest in Austin. I really loved it. Unlike the Potter movies, it succeeds in being dark without taking itself too seriously. The characters were rich, the acting superb, and the pace was neither frantic nor plodding, but just right. John C. Reilly was excellent -- he had a very powerful presence that I'd not really noticed before.

I haven't read the books, but the actors said the books' author also loved the movie. I realize movies rarely live up to readers' ideals, but this movie really stood on its own merits. There was a lot of dark/sarcastic humor (one-liners, mostly) in the movie that I understand wasn't in the books -- and it really worked. Unlike the Harry Potter books, I'm anxious to read these due to my appreciation of the movie.

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38 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Not as bad as it could have been

7/10
Author: NavyOrion from United States
4 November 2009

My tween-age daughter has become a fan of all things vampire thanks to the "Twilight" books and films, so she asked me to take her to see this movie, even though it's based on a different series.

Although "Cirque du Freak" shows its "young adult" target audience, it was not as bad as many teen-oriented films I have seen. It had an interesting, if simplistic, storyline, and was effectively filmed. I agree with the comments that especially commend the Freak Show scene as an early high point, but the rest of the story moved along at about the right pace, and I never found myself bored.

I'm told the teen lead was very attractive, but he's not much of an actor. His evil counterpart, played by Josh Hutcherson of "RV," was somewhat better. I'm not a real John Reilly fan, but he did a good job in his leading role. Willem Dafoe was wasted playing, essentially, a vampire version of John Waters. I would hope that Ken Watanabe and Salma Hayek would have a bit more to do in future installments. Ditto Orlando Jones, who hasn't done much since the horrible "Evolution" nearly killed his career. I also hope the character of Mr. Tiny is written better in the future; this guy was a pain to watch, and came off more like a sweaty pedophile than a supernatural referee or whatever the hell he was supposed to be.

Parents: nothing to worry about here. I'm not even sure how it came in at PG-13, unless there was some mild profanity sprinkled in that I don't remember. This might be a little complicated for little ones, but ages 8 and over shouldn't be scared by anything they see here. Best of all, it's not too painful for adults to watch if you must. Then again, I'm a veteran of the Pokemon movies; I've been to movie hell, so I can sit through anything now.

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54 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

Great fun, a good book adaptation

8/10
Author: postillon from Hungary
23 October 2009

The movie is quite entertaining, I think several scenes in the movie are much more successfully handled as in book itself. (I am only familiar with book one, yet.) So, I liked the way as scriptwriters anticipate some future elements of the story: for example by the sudden visions of Madame Truska or by bringing forth the character of Gavner -played by the always excellent Williem Dafoe- into this "prelude" movie. I have also very like that smiling facial expression performed by John C. Reilly by the end of the move (for this small gesture prefigured that affectionate relationship and love that Larten will feel toward his assistant, Darren. I liked the scenes with the Snake Boy, Evra, who is much for significant character in the movie than in Book 1 (particularly in the pompous Circus-scene of the movie). I big fight between Larten and Murlaugh in the cemetery was just great The flaws are (I mention here only a few): Darren's relationship with his parents is depicted in a very stereotypical way in the picture (I know, the parents here are just background-figures, but still) I have also missed the scenes with the tarantella, Madame Octa. The scene: stealing of Octa by Darren is extremely weak, and not excited at all. The special telepathic relationship between the spider and its trainer in not explained or discussed in the movie at all, and the filmmakers omitted some of the most interesting "kunst" Octa capable of (like the wet spinned on Lartens mouth, etc.) Octa was not controlled by the voice of the flute, that was just a secondary thing!! But she was controlled by human thoughts in the book!! Performances: Male actors steal the show. I especially like the performance by Michael Cerveris as Mr. Tiny. The acting of John C. Reilly (as Larten Crepsley) was a very-very pleasant surprise for me. I can congratulate from the casting-director and for the producers of their choice. Jessica Carlson (in the role of the monkey-girl, Rebecca) was charming and natural- including her tail  The CGI: unfortunately nothing special, or "revolutunary new", just the usual good-level work. The Cinematography/Lightning: excellent choice for the the basic mood/atmosphere of the movie. The colors and tones are quite vivid, not so digitally soft and pale like in the trend today in fantasy movies (like in the last HP for example). This braver, more intense coloring was good for Cirque du Freak. I must praise the work of Tom Woodruff Jr. and his faithful partner: the "monster-costumes", and make up-effects were absolutely perfect!

In my opinion: It was a good start. I think that this movie desires the love of younger audiences, and also hope the studio-moguls will give a chance for the makers for continue this franchise after this start.

My rating: 7.5 (out of 10).

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28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

From a fan of the books...

2/10
Author: ChildofGallifrey from United States
24 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

CDF is arguably my favorite book series of all time, so I really tried to go into this with an open mind. Judging on it's own merits, I would rate the movie a 4 or 5: barely worth watching until the end, but not quite bad enough to bring back to Blockbuster before it's over. Judging it as an interpretation of the books, it doesn't even deserve a 1. Rule #1: if you're making a movie out of a series of popular books, you need to keep more than the characters names. And that is about all they left the same. Mannerisms, appearances, plot, everything was changed. Even the tagline for the movie is wrong, because the vampires in this series aren't immortal.

The plot is about what you'd get if you threw the first 3 books of the series into a blender, dumped that into a tank of starved, ravenous sharks, then let all of histories greatest sushi chefs ginsu it until nothing recognizable remained. One thing that keeps popping up: YES this is a vampire movie, but NO, Twilight fans, this series was around for about a decade before the solar-powered disco balls ruined vampire fiction for us all.

John C. Reilly gives probably the best performance in the film. While a good bit different than described in the books, his portrayal of Mr. Crepsley was at least entertaining to watch. William Dafoe appears for all of about 5 minutes as the supposed-to-be battle hardened veteran vampire Gavner Purl, except Dafoe looks and vaguely acts like John Waters. Ken Watanabe is merely decent as the circus owner, Mr. Tall. Michael Cerveris' character, Desmond Tiny, is supposed to be the embodiment of cold, bone chilling evil, but comes across as the flamboyant uncle you try to avoid at family reunions. I have nothing to say about Salma Hayek, who is there for eye candy first, and plot significance second. Finally, Ray Stevenson almost comes off as menacing as the villain Murlough, even though the character is supposed to have dark purple skin and glowing red eyes, hair, lips and nails, but following the source material is for squares Daddy-O!

But Chris Massoglia, playing the lead role, literally could not have been worse. I've used this analogy before, but I have seen corpses show more emotion than this kid. In a scene when he has to fake his own death(undoubtedly causing his family and loved ones incredible pain and suffering, mind you) he acts as if he could be going to a pizza parlor for dinner. In the books, Darren is an impulsive hothead. In the film, Massoglia could have been replaced with a Bozo the Clown blow up doll and you would have seen more emotion (at least the doll would smile). Yeah, yeah, one could argue that he's young and inexperienced, but I don't buy that. I've known first time actors, many of whom were much younger than Massoglia, do much better jobs than he did. Hell, Anna Paquin won an Oscar when she was 12! If there is any justice in the world, Chris Massoglia will never work again and Edward Norton will finally win an Oscar.

I did get one brief laugh towards the end though, when Reilly was fighting Ray Stevenson's character, and that was only because in the books Darren remarks on how short their fight was (supposed to be) because "they weren't trying to please action-hungry audiences", when the fight scene was nothing but spectacle filled, drawn out filth attempting to do just that.

If you would like an emotionally driven, decently written vampire saga, read the Cirque du Freak books. If you'd like to see a book-film adaptation so bad that some electricity might actually refuse to power it, watch this movie.

2/10, and that's me being generous.

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38 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

See this one BEFORE it comes out on DVD!

7/10
Author: toylovers from United States
2 November 2009

Unable to understand the low ratings that critics are giving this film. From the dazzling and witty opening credits through the delightful cast and story line, this film delivers great visuals, charm and one of John C. Reilly's best performances to date! A little disappointed that we didn't see enough of Willem Dafoe, But Salma Hayek was charming! Young adults will enjoy the freak show characters and vampire storyline; older viewers will get a kick out of the humor and identifying actors from other films. I haven't read the books, but I sure would love to see what happens on the next day as the film comes to a close. FOLLOW YOUR HEART, FORGET THE NAY-SAYERS AND SEE THIS FILM WHILE YOU CAN!

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Targeted for teens but still entertaining for adults

8/10
Author: ersinkdotcom from United States
27 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's very easy these days to dismiss any film based on a successful young adult book series as just a studio's attempt to throw something up against the wall that could effectively begin a franchise and seeing if it sticks. You have every right to be suspicious of that, based upon the number of fantasy books that have tried it and been mostly unsuccessful - The Seeker, The Golden Compass, Narnia, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Bridge to Terabithia, Eragon, and the list could go on and on and on. I mean, let's be honest. When you see the trailer for Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and realize that the same guy that kick-started the Harry Potter franchise is directing it, you kind of feel like the studios are really getting desperate to try to launch something new in the genre to continue to milk it. Almost like their trying to get lightning (pun intended) to strike twice or more times in the same place. I'm sure that's what everyone is thinking about this adaptation of Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak series of books.

It probably doesn't help that the movie features vampires that don't have fangs and seem to have an Interview with a Vampire theme of the main bloodsucker not wanting to kill humans and be a good guy. Believe me, I'm getting tired of that just as much as you are. But that's pretty much where the comparisons end here. All the other vampire's featured in the film definitely have a lust for human blood and the main bad guy, Murlough, actually files his teeth into fangs. This is also not just a story about fighting vampires. Yes, the main conflict in the film is between two groups of the bloodthirsty undead, but there are many different types of characters that we run into on our way through the film. You've got Patrick Fugit as a snake-boy, Salma Hayek as a bearded lady with psychic powers, Tom Woodruff, Jr. as the Wolfman, Orlando Jones as a guy with his skin missing and his ribs exposed, and an extremely evil fellow that seems to play everyone against each other to get what he wants named Mr. Tiny. He seems to have some kind of bizarre magical powers that weren't completely explained.

Just with the names above, you can see that there was no expense spared in pulling together a pretty impressive ensemble cast. Then add to that Willem Dafoe as a rather eccentric acting vampire and a very unexpected John C. Reilly as the freak show vampire Larten Crepsley. Reilly really delivers in the role, being witty and slightly scary in the as Crepsley. He almost veers completely off his normal path of the idiot friend or relative that he has paved for himself by being in Stepbrothers, Talladega Nights, and Walk Hard. The reason I say almost is he still retains a sense of humor, but just not THAT kind of humor.

The film does a really good job of staying dark and not compromising what I feel the director was trying to accomplish with the atmosphere and adaptation by watering it down and making it overly "safe" for tweens and a younger audience. The villains, Mr. Tiny and Murlough, have a lot to do with the dark tone of the film. They are both quite frightening and detestable to look at. There's also some more adult-oriented language that you don't usually get in these types of movies.

Sometimes, it sort of feels like the director and writers had to "paraphrase" or shove in some little parts to fit them in to the film. Sort of like something was going to be important to mention in this one if there ever is a sequel. You could really feel it at the end, as it seemed like they were giving you visual footnotes for something that could be coming in the future.

I found Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant to be a pretty enjoyable film. It had a darkly comic and sarcastic vibe that many of the films based on these types of books seem to miss. I haven't read every book of every film that has been made from a young-adult series, but this movie definitely seemed to be rooted a little bit more in the reality and attitude of teenagers and the way they act and live together. Will this be one of those times where the movie will make enough money for the studio to kick off a new franchise? Who knows. Odds are against it, but you can never stop hoping.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Good Movie But Unfaithful to the Books!

8/10
Author: g-bodyl from United States
28 February 2010

This is a pretty good movie based of the books by Darren Shan. I have read all 12 books and I was highly anticipating this movie. Even thought I liked this film, I was slightly disappointed that there were so many changes to the film. The producers said that this film was from Books 1-3, but it seemed like only Book 1.

This film is about two friends who are invited to the Cirque Du Freak. After the show, one friend Darren Shan steals a spider. After the spider mortally wounded his friend he asks for an antidote. But the only way to do that would to give up his humanity.

I was surprised to see John C. Reilly as Mr. Crepsley. He doesn't seem to fit that role. He's never that serious. Well, he did an excellent job. Mr. Tiny is one creepy guy. He is someone that no one would want to cross with.

I am surprised to see how many people compare this to Twilight. The only similarities is that both movies/books have vampires. In fact, the Cirque du Freak book series were published before the Twilight series. Anyway, this is a good movie even though it's somewhat different from the books. I rate this film 8/10.

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