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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > College > Murder > The Oxford Murders (2008/Magnolia Blu-ray)

The Oxford Murders (2008/Magnolia Blu-ray)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



It is an old British Mystery tradition that murders show up in the upper classes and the locales where they congregate, though that is supposed to be something upper class people do not do, of course they do it.  The set-up may be tired, but it is traditional and implies the kind of story about to be told.  Alex de la Iglesia is another director with an interesting indie/foreign filmography (La Comunidad, The Perfect Crime) when he signed up to do this “prestige” thriller.


A woman is murdered at Oxford (really?) and two men (John Hurt as a logic professor and Elijah Wood as a new student) find the corpse.  It turns out this is only the beginning of a deadly murder spree in which the killer uses carefully picked mathematical symbols to announce his next move.  Can that be used to stop the killing, killer(s) and make the school safe again?


Well, this was written off as second-rate DaVinci Code when it came out, but it is actually not bad and at least as good as that film or the Angels & Demons sequel, yet all equate a subgenre of the mystery genre that announces itself as smarter than the genre when it is definitely not.  A few moments of this work, but it ultimately falls flat when all is said and done. 


Acting is good, the leads are inarguable and the supporting cast (including Julie Cox, Leonor Watling, Anna Massey and Dominique Pinon) help keep the film going, even when it has issues of its own, so it is worth a look if you are interested in this kind of storytelling (and if you liked DaVinci Code and/or Angels & Demons) because this is at least ambitious and that makes it a decent mystery entry.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in the Super 35mm film format by Director of Photography Kiko de la Rica (Sex & Lucia, La Comunidad) and though it has some good shots and the locations are nice, there is still detail issues (even when stylizing is considered) that the Blu-ray shows the limits of.  At least they did not get carried away with the Digital Internegative too much.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is dialogue-based and not badly recorded, but lacks a consistent soundfield all the way.  The combination is better than it would be on DVD, but not spectacularly so.


Extras include nine making of featurettes (general, on the math, an interviews piece, recoding the music et al at Abbey Road, two on the main characters, one on make-up, one on set design and one behind the scenes, all of which you should watch after seeing the film) and an HDNet look at the film.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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