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The Oxford Murders
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Oxford Murders More at IMDbPro »

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99 out of 166 people found the following review useful:

Good movie, wouldn't read the bad comments.

9/10
Author: jordan_008 from Canada
20 July 2008

Most of the comments are from those who just didn't understand. Then of course try to make themselves seem smart just because they watched it. I recommend it. Not too many movies out like this, with lots of twists in a style I can't say I've yet viewed. As far as the comment goes on how everything is old, perhaps they've never seen a movie that was made to be in older style. Clearly doesn't watch a lot of movies, nor should be posting on a site like this. They were probably baffled and tried figuring out which country had the flying cars and 2D world after seeing the Jetson's cartoon. Anyway, enough ranting about people who can't grasp the depth. The acting wasn't bad at all I found. Of course Elijah acts different, which I see not everybody likes, but you need to respect the fact he's an actor. We all got to know him as "the guy from Lord of the Rings". Well, newsflash, in his defense he won't be acting the same way in this "smart" movie as he did fighting off monsters with a smaller vocabulary. He plays an intelligent role this time around. I can't say I know of 'anybody' who could figure out what happens in the end. It 'is' indeed a very deep plot, they twist your mind so much into understanding what's presently going on, you don't have a lot of time to think of what's going to happen. Well I'm tired, bedtime. If what I said doesn't all make complete sense, that is why. Goodnight, and I hope you enjoy the film :-)

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77 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

A worth seeing mystery movie

8/10
Author: efewebber from www.efeweb.es
19 January 2008

Fresh out of the cinema I have a very good feeling about the movie. My first impression is that it is definitely worth seeing. Alex de la Iglesia (the director of for instance "El Dia de la Bestia" or "La comunidad") makes this time a mystery movie following the classical parameters. A nice plot, specially for those who like mathematics or logic in general, with intricate moves and very nice dialogs by John Hurt and Eliah Wood (who, by the way, looks like a pretty solid actor. I had only seen him playing Frodo and was a bit worried about him getting stuck on that character, not at all) who basically follow the classical thoughts about "the perfect murder" and in the philosophical search for absolute truths.

Being a fan of de la Iglesia, whose sense of humor is well known and pretty easy to recognize, I am quite happy to see that he is also able of making a genuine mystery film, with everything you expect to see on it, twisted arguments, funny characters ("Podorov", and of course, Dominique Pinon from, among others, Delicatessen) and a extremely good film-making, nice sequences, good mystery music, etc.

To me, being a bit of a geek, the mathematical references are too obvious, the series shown are too well known, they are nice nonetheless, but for instance why to talk about Fibonaci numbers (which were also in the 'Da Vinci Code' when one can talk about many other nice and funny series? On the other hand being a mystery movie's lover one always enjoys the sequences which are clear homage's to previous classics, pay attention and you'll enjoy.

Let me end up by mentioning the very nice work of Leonor Watling (you may have seen her before in, for example Almodovar's "Talk to her", her meaning she), who, apart from being a really good actress, of being extremely beautiful and attractive is also a pretty good singer! It was quite a pleasure, being Spanish myself, to see her playing an important role with such a great casting!

So, watch it by yourself, the first "serious" Alex de la Iglesia movie, and he does a pretty good job!

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57 out of 94 people found the following review useful:

Useful as a example of bad screen writing for future screenwriters

4/10
Author: rzajac from Dongshih, Taiwan
9 April 2009

This film would appear to be a case where a well-intentioned producer, or enclave of producers, noticed a public interest in conceptually high-toned and seemingly erudite subject matter, combined with more staid pop story elements, like serial murder (Se7en) or overcoming emotional/psychological issues (Good Will Hunting/A Beautiful Mind).

The problem appears to be that they turned the screen writing job over to hacks.

I know that's a brutal thing to say, but it really does appear to be the case.

The film tries to wed serial murder and academic philosophical musing, but fails. Actually, it tries to bring quite the plethora of de rigueur elements together, and mismanages the whole affair. You have all kinds of messy stuff, and an absence of any really compelling myth to bind it together, or even to effectively humanize the characters. You have John Hurt striving valiantly to imbue each scene he works with warmth and sensitivity, but he fails against the tide of bad overall conception/development. Suddenly, Wood is dallying with his hostess' daughter. Where did that come from? Then, she's mad at him for arriving home late. Was she expecting him? Later, she apologizes, and they seem to have arrived at some kind of cozy platonic status quo. Why? And she plays the cello. Uh, are we supposed to assume that an interest in contemporary orchestral ensemble work functions as a hedge against emotional irrelevancy? This was all fast, senseless, and just one example of many, many instances where presumably emotionally resonant moments float in a mutually disconnected vacuum.

And speaking of resonant moments, it's possible that some directorial stringency might have redeemed the script somewhat, though I'm not sure. It appears to be a case where the director accepted the script as-is, directed individual scenes as best as possible, then handed the footage over to editing; maybe they could make sense where he couldn't. There really seemed to be only the faintest glimmer of an understanding of any kind of move toward a redemptive overall storyline. I guess I'm saying that the narrative buck needed to have stopped with the narrators, but instead got passed, ineffectually, along the line in the process, until we see the buck being passed right out our screens and into our laps: The narrators didn't know what they were after--or didn't have the craft to pull it off--could the director handle it? The director couldn't handle it; could the editors make up for the oversight? The editors tried as best they could; if they can't make gold out of shite footage, could the viewer kindly oblige and dig something meaningful out of this morass of disconnected emoting interlaced with disconnected pedantry? By now, I think you get the idea. Seriously: If you're an aspiring screenwriter, WATCH THIS MOVIE. I daresay it's a textbook case.

I'm just having one more thought. It is *just possible* that the script is OK, but we're actually witnessing a combination of bad direction and editing mangling it. I would guess it's unlikely, but it *is* possible.

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53 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

Oxford Murders lacks intelligence

2/10
Author: Terry Arif from United Kingdom
3 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was optimistic that The Oxford Murders would be a clever and interesting story. Unfortunately it was as far from this as possible.

I have never written a film review before and was so deeply unimpressed by this film that I was compelled to share my views. I find it very upsetting to think that the amount of money that was spent on this film could be wasted in such a manner.

The film struggles on every level. Bad acting, coupled with a poorly written script and ill thought out plot plague this film from the offset. It simply fails to capture the imagination.

The film is based in the English town of Oxford, famed worldwide for it's university and intellectual breeding. The plot centers around the relationship between a American exchange student, martin, and a lecturer at the university. The pair, somewhat oddly, become entailed in a series of pointless and quite pathetic 'murders'.

A theasaurus happy writer has quite obviously engineered this film for Hollywood and it is largely for this reason that the film is so bad. The film tries to link complex mathematics and murder, apparently the murderer is leaving some kind of mathematical sequence at each murder. This is a common theme throughout the film, however it is quite sad that the writers think the viewers of this film will mistake basic secondary level concepts for nobel prize winning intellect.

Painful examples of this lurk round every corner, like in one scene Martin and his Tutor are in the police station, they are talking about the murders and a symbol left at the first crime scene. Martin explains the fibonacci series word for word and is giving a impressed look from his tutor who is apparently a famous theoretical mathematician. Most children in England learn the Fibonacci series before they are 16.

It appears as if no research has been carried out either. English characters are displayed whith such stereotypical generalism and it appears as if all extras that are in the film are in fact deformed in some way. Oxford is a village, and it is quite apparent that this version of Oxford looks like a cross between medieval england and the last of the summer wine (english country drama).

From the thick police inspector and his daft side kick to crazy Russian (I say Russian, but you would have no clue what nationality he actually is based on the appalling acting of this character) mathematician. In fact the majority of characters in this film are completely irrelevant and actually serve nothing towards the plot.

Being obviously aimed at Hollywood with every single basic academic principle being completely explained for the obvious benefit of the 'stupid' public, they obviously needed female relationships to complete this film. The sex scene is especially haunting, Elijah Woods pale and childlike figure is something which I would not wish on any man or women.

The acting is of the lowest standard bar the performance of John Hurt, who is makes the best of an awful script and plot. The extras and cameo characters are so bad and Elijah Wood can only act in films which are special effect and fantasy based as they take the emphasis off of the actual acting.

These issues are really only sub issues in comparison to the main problem. The plot.

It really is sad to watch the plot embroil, from the detective inspectors who seem to share case files, car lifts and murder evidence with apparent murder suspects or perhaps maybe the strange cello playing daughter who falls it is later explained fell in love with Martin after meeting him once briefly for ten minutes and sharing a conversation. It could be the beautiful foreign student who is Martins main love interest, who it is explained used to be in a relationship with a 70 year old looking lecturer before hand, although she cannot be over 20 in the film. Or perhaps it is the murder sequence which developed which apparently took 2 police officers, a super intelligent student and world famous lecturer a age and a day to solve, which was eventually one of the most basic and simple series i think i have ever seen.

In one impossible scene a man dies whilst playing a musical instrument and falls off of the stage in front of a packed crowd, in which police were sat. It is later explained with the cheesiest cut scene i have ever seen that after this guy fell of the stage and died, someone sneaked onto the stage in full view of everyone and apparently snuck a clue into the music book on the bandstand! Even though it is explained that at that the time the character in question is being followed and watched by police and the police officer who is watching the suspect is even shown as the camera moves over to him! I think I have had my rant and am finding it to painful to continue conveying the endless flaws which stalk this film so I will stop now. To be honest I am not really discouraging anyone to watch this, i am more upset with the quality of films which talent writers drill out in the quickest possible time because they think they are above everyone else. Please do not waste money on rubbish films like these, it is very depressing.

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52 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

Witty, refreshing and challenging.

8/10
Author: opeixe from Spain
22 May 2008

The Oxford Murders from Alex de La Iglesia is a refreshing appearance on international releases. The opening's most stunning speech from brilliant John Hurt "There's no truth outside of mathematics... Philosophy is dead." begins a journey with an impeccable filmography. The uninterrupted shot following the main characters on the streets of Oxford, into the bookstore, and onto the streets again to end in the crime scene was perfect, and shows off the director's film-making skills. Elijah and Leonor are both rare specimens in today's one pattern acting and appearance, also I found there was no chemistry between them, they both did a great job only shadowed by John Hurt's impressive performance. This is really a film not to miss.

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19 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Bland but Almost Saved by John Hurt

6/10
Author: Bob_the_Hobo
13 November 2010

I had high hopes for "The Oxford Murders", a new Straight-to-DVD film starring Elijah Wood and John Hurt, and most of those hopes were slowly let down as I watched the movie.

The film follows Martin (Wood), an American who travels to Oxford to write his thesis under the legendary mathematician Arthur Seldom (Hurt), and finds an angry, pompous old man instead of the wise and caring fellow he had imagined. Disillusioned, Martin is about to return home when he and Seldom find a dead body. The rest of the film covers Martin and Seldom's race against time to find the killer, using the mathematical theories that both are knowledgeable about.

The film is pretty bland. It's characters, save the amazing John Hurt, are one-dimensional. Martin is boring and unengaging and Elijah Wood does nothing to improve his script. The same can be said of Julie Cox and especially Leonar Watling. John Hurt is the only reason I finished, really. His acting skill is not at home in the world of blandness.

You could do better than "The Oxford Murders", but if you're not looking for too much it will suffice.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Interesting film of Alex de la Iglesia, for lovers of mathematics and intrigue.

6/10
Author: psagray from Spain
8 February 2011

The story begins when an American student discovers the lifeless body of his landlady, a woman who in her youth had been part of the team that cracked the Enigma code in World War II. Shortly thereafter, a professor of logic at Oxford receives a note warning that this is the first in a series of murders. Thus, the student and teacher together decide to investigate the case, using mathematical codes to find the pattern that follows this mass murderer. It is based on the book "Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez

The story has major gaps and forced and improbable situations, with a clumsy police and puzzles in the style of the television series "Batman" of the years 60.

Elijah Wood and Leonor Watling boast some interpretations rather limited, especially in contrast to John Hurt, to overreact even achieved quite acceptable performance.

The film is interesting firstly because it is well told, by Alex de la Iglesia showing once again be a big movie buff (notice the magnificent sequence shot above the discovery of the first body) and, especially, because the film deals with issues related to philosophy and mathematics very interesting, giving it a very important value to the story.

The golden ratio, chaos theory, the Tractatus Logicus Filosoficus Ludwig Wittgenstein, coding theory, numerical series, fractal geometry, Fermat's conjecture and its proof by Andrew Wiles in Cambridge, the Uncertainty Principle Heisenberg, the Liar Paradox, the Gödel Incompleteness Theorem ... Anyone familiar with these concepts, you will love the film. Is very noticeable that the author knows what he speaks.

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24 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Excellent adaption of the short story

7/10
Author: duncan-lip from United Kingdom
25 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For those who haven't read the Oxford Murders, it is a short story about an Argentinean maths student who comes to Oxford only to find that someone has murdered his landlady. The short story delves into mathematical theory in an attempt to solve a series of murders where the murderer leaves symbols, also in a potential series. Being a short story is does lack in depth and this is where this movie has taken this story and expanded on it.

For those who are concerned that maths is not their thing, don't worry. The concepts are very well explained. It would be typical that these complex ideas are overly simplified and patronise the audience, but this is not case.

A very good short story adapted into an excellent steady paced movie.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Mysterious murders connected by mathematics and strange symbols

6/10
Author: ma-cortes
23 February 2009

This murders series story full of turns and twists concerns about an US student named Martin (Elijah Wood) who goes to Oxford University for a doctoral thesis . There contacts a veteran professor named Seldom (John Hurt) and join forces to investigate a murders series . Professor and pupil differ the points of view about numbers and on the influence of the treatise logical-philosophical by Wiggenstein , the greatest book of 20th century . The grisly killings are apparently linked to mysterious code , semiotics, and rare symbols.

This mystery murder picture blends thriller , suspense, tension , plot-twists as well as an intriguing script delving on mathematics-philosophical theories . The film works on various levels and is constantly reconfigured , however contains some embarrassing and contriving moments and also certain confusion . Poorly developing love story between Elijah Wood and Leonor Watling . Strong performance by John Hurt (role was firstly approached by Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons) and excellent plethora of secondaries as Julie Cox (Dune) , the veteran actress Anna Massey , the nice French player Dominique Pinon (City of lost children) and Jim Carter as the Police Inspector . Interesting screenplay by Javier Guerricoacheverria , Alex de La Iglesia's usual writer . Atmospheric cinematography by Kiko De La Rica with a good camera work . Suspenseful musical score by Roque Baños who appears as an orchestra conductor . The motion picture is well directed by Alex De La Iglesia . He's a cool director who had got much success such as ¨Accion Mutante¨ , ¨Day of beast¨ and ¨Perlita Durango¨, and winner of several Goyas (Spanish Oscars) , however his movies have not yet reached box office in USA , but he has strong followers . This is without a doubt a mysterious and thought-provoking movie to be enjoyed for suspense and thrillers fans .

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29 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Execrable

1/10
Author: C P from United Kingdom
27 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review does contain spoilers.

Although it is difficult to know what could spoil this film as it is already extraordinarily bad. It is truly dreadful. The film opens with Wittgenstein writing a philosophical work called The Tractatus. It is well known that part of this was penned whilst Wittgenstein was fighting on the Eastern front during WW1. In this film they have him sitting cross-legged in No Man's Land scribbling into his notebook. From such an absurdly low starting point it might be thought that the film could only improve but unfortunately this does not happen.

Wittgenstein is only mentioned so that leading academic Arthur Seldom (John Hurt) could engage in some philosophybabble about truth. It is not even good philosophybabble. Everything that purported to be mathematical or logical in this film reminded me of a hospital porter I once knew who had read a couple of books on popular science. After a few pints he would try to impress the nurses with his erudition.

We are asked to believe that Hurt, an expert on logical series, devises a series so mystifying that brilliant American maths student who has travelled specifically to Oxford to work with Seldom cannot work out what it is — although he eventually discovers it in what appears to be a children's book in the local book store. Quite why he had to rush to the local bookstore at closing time and abuse the staff who were asking him to leave when he was a postgraduate at Oxford university and might presumably have used the library like anyone else was not explained.

But then nothing is explained in this film. There is no character development. Each character arrives fully formed, clichéd cardboard cut-outs the lot of them. Lorna (Leona Watling) is largely irrelevant to anything in the film although, fortunately, as a nurse, she does of course know that the Pythagoreans also experimented with organ transplants! Her main role seems to be to provide a sex-scene. In any other film such an obviously gratuitous sequence would have been an irritation but in this film it was a welcome diversion. I suppose if you are going to cook a post-coital meal of spaghetti bolognaise it is sensible to stand at the stove wearing nothing but a plastic apron — although she probably wouldn't have bothered if she had known that Martin (Elijah Wood) was, moments later, going to take a handful of the stuff and drop it onto her breasts.

There are many films with a completely ludicrous story line that have been saved by a clever and witty script. There is nothing clever or witty about the script of this film. There isn't a single believable conversation at any point in the film. Everyone just stands around delivering exposition or pseudo-intellectual nonsense. Jim Carter, playing Inspector Peterson, must be delivering the worst lines of his career. They wouldn't have been so bad if this film had been a spoof whodunit. The direction is ponderous. There is no pace, there is no momentum. An occasional surge in the music, even when accompanied by fireworks (yes, the score is as clichéd as everything else in this film), fails to generate the least excitement.

For a film that is meant to be about a logical puzzle it is unfortunate that it doesn't even hang together on its own terms. At one point Seldom tells the police that before he finds the body he had received a note from the mysterious serial killer but threw the note away. Indeed, we see him throw the note away. Sadly, we later discover there is no serial killer and he is making it all up — so why was there any note to throw away? A crucial point towards the end of the film (if a film this bad can have any crucial points) is when Martin discovers there is nothing written on the napkin. It is explained that Seldom had to carry out this deceit so that he could convince Martin that he knew what the next symbol in the series was going to be even though he didn't really know. Quite apart from the fact that the series of symbols turns out to be trivial it also transpires that Seldom is making the whole thing up so it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

If the film says anything at all, it says that small and apparently inconsequential things can have a large a dramatic effect on the outcome. Yes, yes, as any half aware teenager will be able to tell you it's the butterfly effect. Who knows what consequences this review will have? Hopefully, it will encourage one or two of you to find a more entertaining way of spending your evening.

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