E1 Entertainment // 2012 // 392 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 30th, 2013
Looks can kill.
From the subdued souls over at Cinemax comes Femme Fatales, an anthology series that puts mischievous women front and center and indulges the typical shenanigans you'd expect from a Cinemax series airing while most people are asleep. On two discs, we get 14 episodes and 12 unique tales of pulp and intrigue. The subject matter ranges from real-world betrayal and revenge, to back-stabbery and supernatural hijinks, all of which is held together by an aggressive strain of feminism and gyrating hips.
I'll be straight with you: my expectations were far from lofty. In fact, I didn't realize it was a Cinemax series until the discs were already in transit. Add to that it's an "after dark" series, I was strapped in and ready to hit the forward scan button, whizzing through what sure to be a few hours of robotic pay-cable lovemaking.
Surprise! Femme Fatales isn't terrible. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's actually pretty good. The episodes are decently written, the acting is far from embarrassing, and the production values are significantly better than Horny Co-Eds Bonking All Night.
As an anthology series, Femme Fatales feels the sting of the double-edged sword this format typically brings. Since we're dealing with dramatically different stories with different characters playing in different genres, the quality can be inconsistent. There are clunkers, tales that either never get going ("Angels and Demons") or fail to stick the landing ("Haunted"), and yet on balance the entertainment value swings positively in the series' favor.
My favorite installment is the lone comedic entry, "Speed Date," a light-hearted story of a clueless video game designer who passes himself off as someone different online and ends up paired with a ravishing secret agent. The two go on an adventure that takes them to a gangster's hideout and a swinger's party, and the video game dude is hilarious. Seriously, I laughed more at this episode than I have in totality for this season of NBC's The Office.
"Speed Date" is definitely the lightest episode of the series, the rest going full-on pulp and noir, many of which sport satisfyingly nasty endings. Don't expect twists on the order of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt, but the yarns ripped here will surprise you with their quality.
On DVD, Femme Fatales receives a slick standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation with clean Dolby 5.1 Surround mixes. For extras, we get commentaries for each episode and an entire third disc devoted to bonus content, including featurettes on the creation of the series, the making of, and how to stage a love scene; footage from their 2011 Comic-Con Panel; the black and white director's cut of "The White Flower"; bloopers, deleted scenes, promos, isolated music tracks, and a photo gallery.
The stories are decent, the writing is sharp, and everyone involved fell off the cover of Cosmo. This is a show that puts its content before its, er, Cinemaxiness.
Review content copyright © 2013 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 392 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Tracks
* Photo Gallery