DVD & Video File (Starburst Reviews) Movie File (Starburst Reviews) Movies by Alan Jones
DVD/VideoFile by Ian Atkins
selected from Starburst #279

Selected this month:
Stargate SG-1 Vol 15 on DVD, and new movie Brotherhood of the Wolf

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Brotherhood of the Wolf
Reviewer: Alan Jones

Mark Dacascos in Brotherhood of the Wolf

Starring... Samuel Le Bihan
Mark Dacascos
Emilie Dequenne
Vincent Cassel
Monica Bellucci
Jerome Renier
Jean Yanne
Jean-Francois Stevenin
Edith Scob
Producers... Samuel Hadida & Richard Grandpierre
Director... Christophe Gans

Screenplay... Christophe Gans
& Stephane Cabel
from a story by Cabel
Music Joseph Lo Duca
Beast effects & visual effects Henson’s Creature Shop
Special effects
Georges Demetrau
Duration 143 mins
Certificate R/15
Released America: November
Britain: 19 October

An enormous box-office success in France, and that country’s highest-grossing genre film ever, director Christophe (Crying Freeman) Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf/Le Pacte Des Loups is a total mess, but an absolutely fabulous one.

A spectacular meld of historical fact and hysterical fiction, this ravishing-looking Gallic Sleepy Hollow is an embarrassment of clashing riches. Imagine an expensively produced Hammer Horror adopting Sergio Leone’s atmospheric sensibilities and Matrix-style martial arts action all wrapped up in a pre-Revolutionary conspiracy theory and you’ll only get the merest hint of Gans’ glorious ambition with this flamboyant fantasy spinning chilling conjecture around France’s very own Loch Ness-type legend – the Beast of Gevaudan.

During the reign of King Louis XV, between 1765 and 1768, over one hundred women and children were killed in an isolated region of south-central France, and all the corpses bore the marks of savage attack by a ferocious animal. An unrelenting reign of terror quickly gripped as tales of a huge red wolf prowling the area circulated and the mysterious creature became a national talking point. The grisly events occurred at a time when France and Britain were fighting over the New World and Louis became a public laughing stock because, if his military couldn’t catch one Beast, what chance did they have against the British forces? Something had to be caught to assuage public opinion and a fearsome looking wolf was slaughtered and paraded through Paris’s streets. Yet people kept disappearing and the myth of the Beast grew.

Taking this still unexplained killing spree as his literary inspiration, Gans has forward-thinking naturalist Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Iroquois blood brother Mani (Mark Dacascos) sent to Gevaudan by the King to track down the Beast and stuff it for posterity. There he falls in love with the aristocratic Marianne de Morangias (Emile Dequenne), quarrels with her sinister one-armed brother Jean-Francois (Vincent Cassel), lets off sexual steam with mysterious prostitute Sylvia (Monica Bellucci) and uncovers a plot to overthrow the monarchy.

Had Gans stuck to that linear approach with his story, then Brotherhood of the Wolf would have been a far more cohesive entertainment. But at 143 minutes long, with self-indulgence running as rampant as the Beast itself, Gans loses control as the endless climax continues to unfold.

And yet Brotherhood of the Wolf is so sumptuous, gorgeously produced and lovingly wrought, it would be a great shame if Gans had to cut his artistic masterpiece for international release despite the fact it would be a vast improvement. Perhaps the first hour does sprawl alarmingly. Perhaps Mark Dacascos’ character isn’t really needed and there is one Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon battle too many. 4/5But for all its faults, its failed aspirations and its riveting treasure trove of superfluous trivia, I adored it and urge you to see this original subtitled version only, if given the choice.

Stargate SG–1, Volume 15:

Out 24 September (Region 2) • Cert PG
MGM Home Entertainment
Screen Format: 1.85:1
Reviewer: Ian Atkins

Stargate SG-1 on DVD - now out from Blackstar

Pre-order the next DVD @BlackStar

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Another collection of episodes from the most worthy and entertaining heir to the Star Trek ethos currently around.

Starting the disc is Window of Opportunity (or, ‘Stargate does Groundhog Day’ as it should be titled) where a time-loop locks Teal’c and O’Neill into the same events over and over. It’s a wonderful story (though the ending’s a little hurried) which makes the most of its borrowed premise with lashings of humour as Teal’c and O’Neill lighten their boredom by running riot in the corridors and indulging their romantic impulses, and would be worth seeing for the intergalactic golf alone.

Divide & Conquer opens with an SGC representative assassinating a Tokra official, revealing a Manchurian Candidate-style plot against the visiting President of the USA which may involve members of the SG-1 itself. The links to past episodes are a delight, though the episode’s highlight is a confessional moment between Carter and O’Neill.

Next Gen’s Marina Sirtis turns up in Watergate as a mangled-accented Russian scientist, involved in a predictable, style-over-substance tale which borrows so heavily fromRating: 4/5 The Abyss that it’s no surprise to find what the danger is nor how it’s dealt with. The First Ones is, ironically, the last one, when Daniel is abducted by a primitive creature: but is this the only danger on the loose? Er, no.

Extras

After an in-character introduction at the SGC base, the viewer is presented with a 13 minute profile of Colonel Jack O’Neill, with interviews and well-selected clips: this is so very well put together it’s a shame it isn’t an hour long. There are subtitles in three languages, commentaries with director and crewmembers on all four episodes (take note, other genre DVDs), Rating: 4/5and previews of the episodes on the next disc. While initially this seems like blatant advertising, you suddenly realise that it’s more enjoyable – and makes more sense – than trailers for stories you’ve just already seen.

Reviews © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction