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3.8 out of 5 stars
Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2007
Format: DVD
As a photographer I really enjoyed the cinematography and camera work of this film, very dramatic. The plot was very clever and the settings couldn't have been better. Unless you have very poor eyesight I have to suggest you watch it in French, the English dubbing is pathetic. The fight scenes were very cool and the special effects were effective and not overdone. I say this movie isn't for everyone because it doesn't have a very mainstream Hollywood blockbuster feel, it has a very foreign essence to it. I venture to say if you liked Brotherhood Of The Wolf then you will probably like this one to. The mood at atmosphere of the film are brilliantly captured and every scene would make a wonderful still photograph. Be prepared to sit down and watch it without distractions, if you miss even a few minutes you might become confused. There are a lot of subtle flashbacks throughout the movie which may prove confusing if you're not paying attention. Anyway go out a rent this movie if you're looking for something other than your typical Hollywood style film. I have nothing against the French, when I visited southern France a few years ago I loved the people and the country and I have always loved their films and here's just another example why.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2004
Format: DVD
Pitof, the one named director of Vidocq, has recently come unto infamy by being the director of Catwoman. This is a shame, because Vidocq is like nothing you have ever seen, whereas I am sure Catwoman will be the opposite. Regardless of his recent films, Pitof has been responsible for the visual effects of the Jeunet and Caro films "Delicatessen" and "City of Lost Children" and "Alien 4" (although again, like Catwoman, in 'Alien 4' these were French craftsman trying to translate to an American audience). I think I would not be in the minority if I were to say that the visual effects of those films (even Alien 4) were incredible, and revolutionary.

What Vidocq is, is nothing short of a mark for cinemaphiles. It is the first all-digitally produced film. It is a great gothic tapestry woven over an hour and a half that ends in a great showdown... But overall, it is an example of a film that was created outside of Hollywood, and using more European conventions to tell the story. It was very enjoyable to watch this film, because the story was not immediately obvious.

The visuals are INCREDIBLE! The sequence in the field with the lightning (you will know when you see it) is magnificent. I think that this is a template for what can (and will) be done in the future of digital filmmaking. I highly recommend this film.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2004
Format: DVD
The story takes place in summer of 1830 in the French capital, Paris. Vidocq (Gerard Depardieu), a former convicted criminal, has turned his back on crime and become a vigilant detective for hire as he is investigating a bizarre murder where someone used lightening to kill two victims. However, Vidocq is not so fortunate as he is murdered by a strange killer in the beginning shortly after he has seen his face, which is hidden behind a mirrored mask. A young journalist has been asked by Vidocq to write his memories, and now when he is dead the journalist wants to find the killer of Vidocq.

Vidocq is shot with a short wide angled lens, which distorts distances and the images within each frame. Most scenes contain vibrant colors that feel out of place and are combined with peculiar zooms and camera angles that coerce the audience into a visual bizarre matrix. There is also wide use of computer generated images which makes the whole thing look nightmarish. The lens, colors, cinematography, and the CGI enhance the bizarre story, which is well-written. As the film snowballs it becomes more complex as it leads toward the true identity of the killer, which in the end offers a pretty good cinematic experience as the many elements of film making break new ground for cinema.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2008
Format: DVD
One of the best action films of the last decade! This movie has everything: compelling and twisted story line that keeps you second guessing until the very end, fantastic special effects that actually look believable, beautiful cinematography, great cast and well placed and performed action scenes. I would highly recommend this film for anyone who enjoys action packed mystery movies.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2007
Format: DVD
Vidocq brings to the screen the story a triple murder involving a mysterious killer that has become something of an urban legend among the people of 19th Century Paris.

The setting is Paris in 1830 and a young journalist is trying to shed light on the death of a private investigator that has died in his efforts to find and capture a mysterious murderer who's been using unprecedented sophistication and imagination in killing his victims.

The film brings to the screen two main stories, which are unfolding simultaneously: On the one hand, the murder mystery, and on the other (and to a lesser extent), the background events leading to a major insurrection.

The movie portrays superbly life (which is quite miserable) in Paris in 1830, and provides valuable insight into a very important period of French (European) History.

We get a taste (though a very light one) of France's political situation (Royalists vs. Republicans vs. Napoleonists as well as Franco-Prussian relations).

Gerard Depardieu, Ines Sastre (who is GORGEOUS!), Guillome Canet, and the rest of the cast, have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least! All the actors, without exceptions, give it their 100% and it really shows!

The setting, the dialogues, the music, and the costumes are all wonderful!

Very well written and very well presented, it allows for a thought-provoking movie that will definitely provide for an evening's entertainment.

In short, Vidocq is a movie definitely worth watching and one to seriously consider adding to your movie collection (if you haven't done so already)!

Strongly recommended along with Napoleon the TV Miniseries (starring Christian Clavier, Isabella Rossellini, Gerard Depardieu, and John Malkovich), Queen Margot (Isabelle Adjani), Brotherhood of the Wolf (Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel), and Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) for those with a soft spot for France and French History.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2005
Format: DVD
The most intriguing part about this amazing French historical thriller is that it was totally ignored by American and British box office. Whether it became yet another victim of Anglo-French eternal Kulturkampf, or just a mere blunder on behalf of either French or American/British producers, it is still not an excuse not to show such a spectacular movie to the English speaking audience. We can only thank Canadian bilinguality that made producers in the French part of the country put the English subtitles into the film so those of us who don't speak French could also enjoy this masterpiece from a French visuals wizard Pitof. The story is set in Paris in the turbulent days of the July Revolution of 1830 and based on a struggle between a famous French detective of the early 19 century Eugene Vidocq, played by Girard Depardieu, and the most powerful and dangerous, preying for some reason mostly on young virgins, mysterious serial killer known as Alchemist. Their fight in the beginning of the movie ends up with Vidocq's death and the story is narrated by a young journalist who is determined to find this villain and avenge the slain detective. He follows the footsteps of Vidocq's investigation in the head-spinning rollercoaster ride through aristocratic salons with the most unaristocratic habits, the Parisian underbelly and its ill-famous quarter du Temple where you can buy anything or more precisely anyone, the opium dens and the dens of Revolution, seeing and finding out things along the way that noone was able to see and know, untill he (and everybody else) comes to the dramatic and surprising final which will definitly knock your socks off. The whole movie, colorful like you can only imagine, is so beatifully crafted (like, for example, breathtaking unforgettable image of an aerial view of Paris of early 1800s) so in the end it leaves you absolutely stunned. Real eyecandy. Enjoy it.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I am an avowed francophobe, well not really, I like their cheese, wine and above all their women, and in this case one of their movies. Actually a Deutsche e-freunde recommended it to me. No faint praise. I said I like the cinematography of Brotherhood of the Wolf. He recommended Vidoqc. I blanched at paying the $50+ cost of the nearly unavailable DVD, but decided to take the chance. It was worth it. I noticed that it is offered in prerelease at $25 for the American version, a bargain so long as it hasn't been gutted by the American distributor.

My version was released in Quebec.

The story is well done. It hooks you in the first few minutes. The colors and camera work are mesmerizing. You feel like you can smell the brandy and garlic on Nimier's breath. The costumes are pure genius. You feel like you are standing in Post-Napoleonic Paris. Pitof, the director with such credits as visual effects director on both The Messenger: the story of Joan of Arc, and Alien 4. Most recently he directed the bomb Catwoman with Halley Berry. Well, don't judge Vidoqc by that disaster. The shift of an inch or two of Halley's costume top and he would have had a hit. I think the mere presence of Sharon Stone probably killed that effort.

Not only will the plot twists and turns of Vidocq keep you guessing up to the end of the movie; the atmosphere will intoxicate you. As with most french films, there is abundant sexuality and in this case, revealed and implied deviancy enough to titillate even the most jaded. Young girls sold into white slavery by their parents to be tortured, mutilated and ultimately sacrificed by the Alchemist...I doubt much of that will make it into the American release. One pitiful scene remains vivid, where Vidoqc tries to communicate with the filthy naked form of a cowering young teenager. She mumbles incoherently through her terrified tears, incapable of uttering an intelligable sound. Covered with filth, trembling, it appears her tongue has been cut out. As Vidoqc watches helpless, the girl runs off into the night and an uncertain future.

Pitof paints a vivid world of sex, violence and chaos set amidst the turmoil of France in upheaval. This is a not to be missed movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
VIDOCQ (unnecessarily a/k/a DARK PORTALS: THE CHRONICLES OF VIDOCQ, 2001, dir. Pitof, opened 19 September, 2001, in Belgium) - The incredibly bloated Gérard Depardieu plays real-life detective/criminologist Francois Vidocq in this fast-paced, dizzying "steampunk" adventure set around 1830. (And the French had no compunction claiming this was partly based on Vidocq's actual memoirs.)

Vidocq is hot on the trail of three men he considers dangerous perverts with dark motives. They lead him to The Alchemist (Guillaume Canet), an urban legend Vidocq has been studying for some time. He concludes correctly that The Alchemist is a real man - and tracks him down mercilessly.

The twists in the plot are not all that labyrinthine; some are quite predictable whilst others are silly. The end is half expected, half total surprise. What astonishes me is not only the technological achievements of the film, but the fact that as early as 2001, someone in France was wise enough to do the first "steampunk" film with Vidocq as its central character. As has been indicated, this, not George Lucas' ATTACK OF THE CLONES, is the first film ever to be shot 100% digitally (with the Sony digital 1080p 24 fps).

It matters little; the film has a made-for-TV look to it that I cannot quite accustom myself to watching. Yet it held me riveted, fascinated, as much for its excellence, cinema for cinema's sake, as for the films it clearly inspired. VIDOCQ started a movement that one could say began with the very first HARRY POTTER, all HARRY POTTER films, and certainly will not end with SHERLOCK HOLMES or SHERLOCK HOLMES 2. Most likely the slightly cheaper production values and the unfortunate timing buried VIDOCQ. Let's resurrect it!

Director Pitof is best known for directing 2004's disaster CATWOMAN and his visual effects supervision on ALIEN: RESURRECTION (my favorite ALIEN film). Watch for this easy-to-spot director, who has a great future. I can't say what is going to ultimately become of Depardieu (the wife asked me what I thought), or how many dozens more films will be inspired by this masterpiece.

All I can tell you is get this early marvel - appreciate it, it's not tough to find and even the original French dvd has English subtitles if you need them. Truly marvelous, original cinema is just too rare these days - so own this sparkling original.

An original has to be accepted warts and all: one need not be offput by them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Vidocq is France's answer to Sherlock Holmes. Vidocq is killed in the first scene. As his partner mourns (over a bottle) a young journalist shows up wanting to finish writing Vidocq's biography and find his killer. Much of the movie is told in flashbacks. Sometimes there are flashbacks during the flashbacks, but it seems to work. Prior to his death Vidocq had the killer remove his mask so he could see his face. Vidocq's body is not recovered. The ending is not going to be too hard to figure out. I loved the backgrounds in this movie. They were a bit surreal, but not as cartoonish as Dick Tracy. The movie went at a good pace. My biggest problem was the extremely poor dubbing, especially the minor characters who had the same voice. This guy dubs bad Italian movies too. The movie contains a look into opium dens and the red light district. Minor nudity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2007
Format: DVD
Vidocq brings to the screen the story a triple murder involving a mysterious killer that has become something of an urban legend among the people of 19th Century Paris.

The setting is Paris in 1830 and a young journalist is trying to shed light on the death of a private investigator that has died in his efforts to find and capture a mysterious murderer who's been using unprecedented sophistication and imagination in killing his victims.

The film brings to the screen two main stories, which are unfolding simultaneously: On the one hand, the murder mystery, and on the other (and to a lesser extent), the background events leading to a major insurrection.

The movie portrays superbly life (which is quite miserable) in Paris in 1830, and provides valuable insight into a very important period of French (European) History.

We get a taste (though a very light one) of France's political situation (Royalists vs. Republicans vs. Napoleonists as well as Franco-Prussian relations).

Gerard Depardieu, Ines Sastre (who is GORGEOUS!), Guillome Canet, and the rest of the cast, have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least! All the actors, without exceptions, give it their 100% and it really shows!

The setting, the dialogues, the music, and the costumes are all wonderful!

Very well written and very well presented, it allows for a thought-provoking movie that will definitely provide for an evening's entertainment.

In short, Vidocq is a movie definitely worth watching and one to seriously consider adding to your movie collection (if you haven't done so already)!

Strongly recommended along with Napoleon the TV Miniseries (starring Christian Clavier, Isabella Rossellini, Gerard Depardieu, and John Malkovich), Queen Margot (Isabelle Adjani), Brotherhood of the Wolf (Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel), and Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) for those with a soft spot for France and French History.
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