Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Close Your Eyes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Close Your Eyes

Article excerpt


BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF * Cert 15, 134 mins

CHRISTOPHER Gans's movie is a kind of all-purpose, multi-genre blockbuster that collides Tim Burtonish Hammer histrionics with Matrix-style combat and tricks it out with Baz Lurhmann anachronisms.

Consider a few random elements: a native American who fights like a Hong Kong martial artist; a mutant creature that terrorises the inhabitants of an 18th century region in southern France; a secret society that trades off religious idolatry and the muddied mythology of new-era comic books.

Based on an apparently true account, the tale is embellished beyond comprehension by the wildfire imagination of screenwriter StEphane Cabel. How you react is entirely down to your capacity for eye-popping cinematic tricks, sumptuous costumes (carnivale romantique crossed with rock 'n' roll decadence) and the general air of all-or-nothing pot pourri that give similar escapist entertainments like A Knight's Tale or Moulin Rouge a run for their money.

The heady, operatic imagery overwhelms the confusing story that plays out like a Wagnerian version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

In the Gevaudan region of France around 1766, a mysterious beast terrorises the inhabitants by dining on them from time to time. The body count has reached three figures and the people are afraid, very afraid. Enter GrEgoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a scientist, naturalist and all-round Man of Enlightenment who is sent to deal with the problem by Louis XV. Along with his monosyllabic Iroquois pal Manu (Marc Dacascos) he begins the investigation after a skirmish or two with local bad boys, during which Manu's supernatural skills in hand- to- hand/ foot-inmouth combat are amply demonstrated.

Before long he is embroiled in a local conspiracy that reaches right into the heart of the aristocracy and the Catholic Church, a putative love affair with the local aristo's sister and proto-feminist Marianne de Morangias (Emilie Dequenne), and a side order of sex with the drop-deadly courtesan Sylvia (Monica Bellucci). …

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