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Mike Barnard

Published January 1st, 2005 | by Mike Barnard

The Dresden Files Review

Director: Various Rating: 3/5

If Harry Potter grew up with aspirations to be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer he might become Harry Dresden, a wizard battling rivals and monsters while helping police crime scene investigator Connie Murphy solve cases. Based on bestselling supernatural novels by Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files sees magician Dresden (Blackthorne) give a paranormal insight into Murphy’s (Cruz) investigations that leads to confrontations with werewolves, dragons and other ghouls. It’s a lot like The X-Files with a Fox Mulder-like “believer” in Dresden and Murphy as a sceptical outsider similar to Dana Scully, as well as a hint of romance between the two. Out of this wealth of influences comes an extremely glossy series that is a little too disposable to make any lasting impression.

Harry Dresden’s powers have been with him since he was a child and Blackthorne plays him as a likeably easy-going guy trying to help others: he’s even listed in the Chicago phone book as the sole entry under “professional wizard”. However, he has a blot on his copybook from when he killed his uncle using black magic and so is frowned upon by much of the wizard community. His only real friend is an old ghost, Hrothbert “Bob” of Bainbridge (Mann), but he doesn’t need friends when he spends most of his time using spells MacGyver-style to find clues that overcome Murphy’s difficulties in her police work. Then there is also the small matter of having to battle any nasty creatures he comes across and deal with the odd old face from the world of magic showing up to cause him a few more problems. Murphy, meanwhile, refuses to believe in magic outright despite seeking out Dresden’s help, but must be careful when bosses begin to question how she is getting results.

Every effort has been made with the style of The Dresden Files: it looks sleek and there is plenty of visual trickery to feast your eyes on along with a dash of fighting to round out most episodes. Whether Dresden is applying ant vomit to sunglasses so he can see the tracks of a killer or squaring up to a monstrous being, it looks great and does not takes itself too seriously. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Dresden Files keeps fantasy on the side of fun and it avoids the waffle-filled scenes that made The X-Files so dull by its final episodes. As late night entertainment for fantasy fans, it is perfect for those wanting a more adult-orientated version of Harry Potter with a hint of Crime Scene Investigation.


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