Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Featured In Issue 146, January/February 2010

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Sequences of intense supernatural violence and action, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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Paul Weitz
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1, DTS 5.1
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Cirque du Freak is a traveling sideshow filled with magical creatures, misunderstood freaks, and the mysterious vampire, Larten Crepsley (Reilly). Drawn to the dark, unpredictable world of Cirque, 16-year-old Darren (Massoglia) becomes The Vampire's Assistant and decides to trade in his ordinary life for a chance to become an immortal vampire. As Darren explores his newfound powers and faces unexpected enemies, he'll find that his existence as a member of the undead is filled with more challenges, suspense, and fun than he ever thought possible. Based on the Cirque du Freak series of books by Darren Shan. (Gary Reber)

Special features include 35 deleted scenes (SD 27:17), the featurette Guide To Becoming A Vampire in three segments (HD 19:59), the Tour du Freak behind-the-scenes featurette (HD 18:04), BD-Live functionality, D-BOX Motion Code™, plus Universal's pocket BLU™ connectivity and U-Control.

The 1080p 2.35:1 AVC picture is wonderfully stylized, with a surreal appearance mixed with natural touches and even occasional animation. In the presence of the vampire, the picture is darkly shadowed. Blacks are deep and solid Shadows are effectively visual and dimensional, especially as depicted in the cirque's grounds. This is a very dark film and should be viewed in a dark room, preferably in a black one, to optimize displays with excellent native contrast capabilities. Otherwise, the fine details in the darkness will be destroyed. Daylight scenes exhibit well-balanced contrast. The imagery is darkly rendered with saturated color. The color palette is rich in warm and vivid hues. Fleshtones appear natural throughout, unless exaggerated for effect. Resolution is
generally good, especially during close-ups of facial features and object textures. This is an engaging visual treat that communicates a darkly eerie visual experience when viewed in the dark. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack's highlight is a wonderfully recorded full orchestral score that defines a very expansive soundfield, with a wide and deep soundstage and aggressive surround envelopment. Instrument timbre is perfectly discernible. The score is impressively dynamic, with forceful deep bass and powerful brass chords. Action scenes are punctuated with aggressive sound effects and powerful .1 LFE bass extension. Effects are often effectively panned and directionalized. The soundfield is immersive and holosonic® sounding. Dialogue is production sound and ADR derived but generally well integrated. D-BOX Motion Code™ effects are outstanding and dramatically enhance the picture and sound experience, with movement in all directions and intensities. This is a terrific soundtrack, driven by a dynamic music score that permeates almost every scene. (Gary Reber)