Director Neil (The Crying Game, In Dreams) Jordan once crafted what was (and still remains) quite possibly one of the greatest vampire films of all time. But unfortunately, time has not been fair to Jordan. His newest film and latest attempt at striking genre gold (as he did with Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles) has far too many flaws to match up with such a masterpiece as Anne Rice's beloved adaptation of her own classic epic novel. That being said, Byzantium is a far from terrible movie. It does, after all, still have that grand scope that all of Jordan's films contain. And, much like many of his other films, it features a stunning performance or two along the way.
Saorise (Atonement, Hanna) Ronan and Gemma (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Quantum of Solace) Arterton provide wonderful performances as the film's two lead characters, but the tale is not nearly as convincing or engrossing as it should have been. After all, if your script is already asking the audience to sustain their disbelief and not only accept but actually buy the premise of vampires, the moviegoers should at least be given a reason to do so. In other words, we all have to care. Which, not for lack of trying on the director or his stars, is sadly far from the case. What we get is an overly-confusing and far too drawn-out story that never once seems real, doesn't even try to make its characters likable or sympathetic, and quite honestly, banks entirely on the star-power on the movie poster.
The film does have its positives, though. It is not only beautifully filmed, but the epic scope (though distracting) makes it come off as a piece of modern art. It does not feel like a new movie, which is saying something. There are several scenes that could have added action sequences, but the director instead chose for subtlety. And then there's the vampire special effects. There weren't a whole lot of them, but when they happened on screen, they were spot-on. This is not a great film, but it is what it is. If you are a vampire fanatic, you will enjoy this new twist on the mythos. If you are not, you will be sorely disappointed.