Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Matt Damon, Heath Ledger

Honestly, the previews for this one looked pretty bad and the reviews were bad to match, but I put this on my list because it was directed by Terry Gilliam, one of my favorite directors. I'll have to admit, it wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it wasn't the worst either.

The beginning has a twist that you'll probably see coming a mile off. Needless to say, the Grimms' reputation is more noble than they are and the characters are setup to take you down the road of a buddy-cop film format.

Wilhelm Grimm (Matt Damon), the elder brother, is the realist, the thinker and mastermind behind the Grimms' successes to date. Jacob Grimm is the dreamer, his head always in his book and his mind on his stories, tormented by his brother and his conscience over the death of their sister when they were younger. Jacob went to sell the family cow to get money for medicine and came back with "Magic Beans" instead. And so the first fairy tale corruption is foisted upon the audience.

The references come faster than you can recognize them at times: Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Princess and the Pea, Snow White (sooo many references here from the mirror to the woodsman to the apple), Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella somehow get thrown together, and even The Wizard of Oz makes a pseudo-appearance when a girl repeatedly clicks her glass slippers together at the climax of a scene near the end.

Most of these are twisted, either together to help frame the story, or darkly in a bizarre manifestation more like a nightmare. The Gingerbread Man sequence is especially dark with a girl's face falling off into the mud only to be absorbed by a mud creature so it can see and capture her. Once the capture is complete, the creature flattens and hardens and shouts out the famous "you can't catch me I'm the Gingerbread Man" line, totally out of left field.

The key to the ending is hinted at early and some of the lines are almost expected (how many times have you heard "Well that went well" after something that didn't?) but overall it's an imaginative yarn and that counts for something, doesn't it?

Nobody's winning an Oscar for this movie and let's face it: you didn't go see it for the incredible performances.

Overall not bad. There is one notable CG glitch that I saw immediately (mentioned below) and a few bad green-screen shots, but considering how many effects were necessary in this film it's not a bad effort.

Most of the memorable moments of the soundtrack are variations on children's songs like "Lullaby, and Goodnight". Kinda creepy when the evil man with the axe is coming to take/kill the little girl and whistling a lullaby.

Atmosphere & Immersive Details
Gilliam is here in force, bringing back imagery from Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Even the most microscopic details are not overlooked for the most part, such as an egg rolling out of a gargoyle's mouth filled with a bird's nest when Jacob Grimm grabs it to keep from falling. Other moments are dramatically presented in a dreamlike manner seen through the eyes of a character, such as a regal dinner seemingly attended by innumerable guests at an infintely long table, only to be revealed as a very small gathering of people seated on large, tall mirrored chairs when the dream is shattered by an interruption. Gilliam's over-characterization and seeming contempt of the empiric Napoleonic French is everywhere, from their thick exaggerated accents to their bloated pride. It makes me wonder how he would portray colonial Americans in a movie like Dances with Wolves if given the opportunity.

However, some details are missed or just plain missing such as a moment during an upward shot of the tower Jacob is scaling. The needlelike spire on top (in the "background" of this specific shot) appears from nowhere during a quick cutaway. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and had to rewind to double-check, but it wasn't there and then suddenly it was.

All in all, I liked this film, if only for the facts that Gilliam directed it and that it wasn't painful to watch. It could have been better, but it might have been a lot worse. In the end I gave it 3 Stars on Netflix (Liked It).


Greetings fellow movie fans.

A bit back I set up a Netflix account and proceeded to find out that there's a limit of 500 movies in your queue. And it seems the more I watch, the more I find to add to the queue. It will take me years to get through them all, so I thought it would be fun to document and share the process.

Be warned, my queue is a mix of mainstream Hollywood popcorn flicks, quirky cult classics, independent dramas, science fiction and documentaries. Maybe a little heavy on the popcorn flicks since I figured NetFlix was a cheaper way to kill brain cells on these movies than going to the theater.

I've already watched about 40 films originally in my queue and I'm in the midst of some pretty awful movies (I just watched Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen... yack) but there's plenty of good flicks down the list.

Join me in my quest by adding me as a friend. Click this link: and Netflix should do the rest. You'll be able to see my queue and even send me comments on movies you've watched that you think I might like.