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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well balances mystery about unbalanced murder
This is a great film to add to your collection of mysteries. It is up there with Christy and Sayers. All the elements are there and blend well.

The actors are well chosen to match the characters and the acting is bang on. The sets were perfect and not distracting from the story.

There are several approaches one can take while telling a story. One is...
Published on Oct. 23 2010 by bernie

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Math and murder
Murders are committed for love, money, hatred, justice or revenge -- but not usually as an intellectual exercise. Yet Álex de la Iglesia approaches such a string of deaths in "The Oxford Murders," adapted from mathematician Guillermo Martinez's novel. Elijah Wood and William Hurt have magnificent chemistry and give excellent performances, but the script has a lot...
Published on May 1 2011 by E. A Solinas


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Math and murder, May 1 2011
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: Oxford Murders [Import] (DVD)
Murders are committed for love, money, hatred, justice or revenge -- but not usually as an intellectual exercise. Yet Álex de la Iglesia approaches such a string of deaths in "The Oxford Murders," adapted from mathematician Guillermo Martinez's novel. Elijah Wood and William Hurt have magnificent chemistry and give excellent performances, but the script has a lot of flab.

Martin (Wood) is a young American student at Oxford who is writing his thesis; he hopes to have the famous mathematician Arthur Seldom (John Hurt) advise him... only to have his hopes dashed.

But when Seldom visits the house where he is boarding, the two men find Martin's landlady dead -- and while at first it appears to be natural causes, the police discover that she was murdered. And when Seldom reveals that he was sent a strange message warning him about the murder, he and Martin begin speculating that they're dealing with an "intellectual serial killer."

At the same time, Martin finds himself in an odd love triangle between his landlady's neurotic daughter (Julie Cox) and a sexy Spanish nurse (Leonor Watling). But his mind is fixed on unraveling the pattern that may lead him and Seldom to the murderer -- and the greatest puzzle is one that no one may be able to figure out.

Pythagorus, the principle of uncertainty, sequential math and mathematical order versus chaos. "The Oxford Murders" feels a bit like a mathematical episode of "Masterpiece Theatre" -- vast venerable colleges, the tangled motives, and some seemingly impossible murders.And the idea of murder warnings based on sequential mathematics is a fascinating one...

... which becomes a problem, because we end up with endless, pompous discussions about truth, reality and philosophy. Eventually you just want to scream at Seldom, "Get off your butt and go detect!"

Álex de la Iglesia cloaks the movie in pale light and a bleak greyness broken by brief spatters of color, and occasionally drops in some more explosive scenes (a rather clever incident involving two buses). Unfortunately, the plot has quite a bit of flab -- Martin's romance with Lorna doesn't really add anything to the plot except a sex scene involving pasta, and his demented classmate doesn't add much more.

But there is a saving grace. Wood and Hurt are absolutely magnificent together as the yin and yang of this investigation -- one is an idealistic, somewhat naive young student, and the other is an embittered, icy old man who apparently takes a weird delight in stirring others up. Cox is a crazy-eyed mass of nerves, and Watlin is just... there. And for some reason both of them are instantly ravenous for Wood.

"The Oxford Murders" is one part murder mystery, one part mathematics, and one part deadly boring philosophical debate that screeches the plot to a halt. A flawed movie with some fascinating, glittering facets.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting twist on a standard muder mystery, Dec 31 2010
By 
Marcia (Vancouver) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Oxford Murders [Blu-ray] [Import] (Blu-ray)
It's easier to tell you what this movie is not. It is not an action crime drama, but you probably expected that since it's set in Oxford university, England. It's not an Agatha Christie murder where all the possible murderers are introduced at the beginning and at the end the how done it reveals the who done it. It is however, a standard plot line used in many mysteries where it's either the first or the last person you would expect to be the killer. What's fascinating is the subplot of the murderer being a"fan" (the detective suggests the murderer loves the philosophy professor (John Hurt) and the intricacies of the red herrings created by John Hurt, a great British actor who carried the movie)

The red herrings are all tied up in the philosophical idea of "can we ever know the truth?", but then it is set in Oxford. The young man who worships the professor is a mathemetician. This creates interesting notions of mathematicas as the only knowable truth or is it? So what's philosophy and mathematics have to do with murder? That's the interesting red herrings. It is titled Oxford Murders. Is there a serial killer on the loose in Oxford? How important is the professor's formula for murder? In the end it turns out to be a rather simplistic murder mystery with all the clues on any other murder mystery and of course, we meet the killer or is it killers?

If you are a fan of John Hurt this is for you. If you are a mathemetician this is for you. If you like British mysteries this is for you. If you like complicated subplots there here. Unfortunately, I wouldn't buy it because once the how done it is presented and the who done it is revealed all the excess mathematical formulas and philosophical propositions melt away and the viewer is left with a formula mystery. Once solved it doesn't offer sufficient intellectural stimuli or character driven storyline to watch several time. Glad I rented it first and highly reccommend you rent it too, then decide if you want to buy it. I'm a big fan of mysteries and studied writing in university so perhaps what is see as Obvious will not be true for you.

Hurt's performance is commendable and the red herrings are terrific and I got lost in the complications of the murder. It's worth watching. The supporting cast are rather two dimensional, but they do present themselves as persons with motives. For me it wasn't the mathimatical formulas that were too simple, it was the formula of the storyline. The ending is complicated and offers more than one solution to the crime. It was only the next day that I realized the simplicity of the murder under all the twists and turns. Enjoy!

Oh yes, for you who actually watch the extras there's the making of and more info about Oxford.Oxford Murders [Blu-ray]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well balances mystery about unbalanced murder, Oct. 23 2010
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Oxford Murders [Blu-ray] [Import] (Blu-ray)
This is a great film to add to your collection of mysteries. It is up there with Christy and Sayers. All the elements are there and blend well.

The actors are well chosen to match the characters and the acting is bang on. The sets were perfect and not distracting from the story.

There are several approaches one can take while telling a story. One is like Tony Hillerman who usually has two parallel stories that have characters periodically crossing each other and may not converge in the end. The other is the worlds within worlds approach as with the book "Sophie's World" or the film "The Thirtieth Floor" (1999). This story was more standard mystery with the usual suspects that all could be guilty. All the clues are there and the butler does not come out of the closet just before the end. Yet in the end, we get not one twist but a series of plausible twists. Leave it to a Mathematician.

In the film we get a statement "I believe in Pi" this give away the armatureness of the math section of the film as everyone in industry knows the ' Pi (~.7854816) is the formula to convert form one geometric figure to another look it up. You do not need a calculator if you remember 7854 in your head.

The story starts with a famous woman being murdered, no doubt, about it, two people find the body and a mysterious mathematical clue points to possible future murders. Can the clues be deciphered using a mathematically attitude and future murders prevented; or will we have to rely on good old-fashioned detective skills?

Be sure to watch again to see what clues you may have missed.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Lacking., April 19 2011
By 
IDGS (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Oxford Murders [Import] (DVD)
Well, I expected more from this cast.

First off, this is a fairly masked rip-off of Dan Brown. Symbology, professors and grad students saving the world (or something like it), and how intellectuals are really like you and I - only better.

The plot... wasn't bad. They get a star for that. The narrative moved along fairly swiftly, and the actual story was pretty engaging. However, the whole narrative centers around one cryptic series of symbols that Wood must decipher in order to stop a string of horrible murders. This leads him on a chase around Oxford, fighting to find the clues he needs to stop the horrible events from transpiring.

I won't give any more of the plot away, but when it all falls down, I personally was left a little more than disappointed. This plot had so much potential, and not even the fairly well-versed cast could save it when it started on a downward spiral.

Now, I know common movie review ettiqute points at the actors for not fulfilling the vision of the writer and director, but I don't hold much against the cast here. This was a writing problem, and the plot should have been addressed much more thoroughly before it headed to production.

In any case, it's good for a watch if you don't have much else to do, but don't bump anything else in your 'to be seen' pile for it.

2/5.
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