Friday, January 20, 2012

Oxford Murders

Movie Review : Oxford Murders
Director :  Álex de la Iglesia
Genre : Suspense / Mystery
Starring : Elijah Wood, John Hurt, Leonar Watling
Released : 2008
My Rating : 5 out of 10

How do you take a decent mystery plot and convert it into a mess of a movie that’s so superficial in its attempt at being intellectual that it gets really irritating ? Answer : Oxford Murders.

Martin (Elijah Wood) arrives in Oxford to learn under his idol Professor Arthur Seldon (John Hurt), who, as expected, is obnoxious. There he meets Lorna (Leonar Walting), a nurse, who we learn later, had an affair with the older professor. A murder happens, and then another and a hunt is on for a serial killer who is leaving mathematical clues.

Nothing wrong with this idea. But the script is overly focused on appearing smart, and that desperation is obvious. It completely fails to impress us with all the references, because the it's just constant name dropping. Wittgenstein, Turing, Heisenberg, Fibonacci, Gödel, Pythagoras, Fermat - all the right names, and nothing else. By the way, Andrew Wiles did present his first proof of Fermat's Theorem during the same time period, but the movie changes his name for some unknown reason.

The love triangle is laughable, because we don't even understand why Lorna fell for any of those. The truth is, there is not one believable moment of human interaction.

This is all sad. The kernel of the mystery had potential for surprises. Actors are capable. (Elijah Wood is really trying hard to shed his Frodo Baggins image.) Camera work is not bad either. But the writing is amateurish. I think a lot of blame can also be placed on the original novel.

I cannot really recommend this movie. It's definitely not for the kids. There is no gore - the murders are "clean", so to speak, but there are disturbing images. If you are willing to endure pseudo-intellectual blah blah for a potentially good suspense idea, then by all means watch it.

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