Terry Gilliam, the only American member of the Monty Python troupe, and director of such quirky classics as "Brazil," "Time Bandits," "The Fisher King," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen" and "Monty Python & The Holy Grail," among others, does it again with bizarre combination of Munchausen and Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," with a little bit of "The Village" thrown in.
This dark-humored film relates the completely-fictional story of the famous German brothers, Wilhelm (Matt Damon) and Jakob (Heath Ledger) Grimm, who created dozens of fairy tales and nursery stories for children in the early 19th Century. True to Gillian's idiosyncratic style, though, the movie plays nothing straight down the line. In this case, the brothers are con artists, traveling through the French-occupied German villages (remember Napoleon was big in those days) and playing on the fears and superstitions of their idiot occupants.
Wearing goofy armor, shouting made-up incantations, and using hidden assistants, sleight of hand and other trickery, they fool these hicks into paying them big money, that is until they are finally captured by French forces, and sent to a town where several young girls have gone missing. The two arrive with little fanfare, as well as several French soldiers and Cavaldi (Peter Stormare, "Birth," "Bad Boys 2"), the evil Italian inquisitor of Gen. Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce, "Brazil") to try and solve the mystery. If they fail, they will be tortured and executed.
Since, of course, they are fakes, they have no idea what they're doing but, with the assistance of a female trapper, they discover a crumbling tower deep within a foreboding forest. The woman remembers her father telling her the story of an evil queen who sealed herself up there to avoid a plague that was killing her subjects. It seems this tower and whatever now lives inside of it may be the cause of all the trouble.
Borrowing heavily from "Sleepy Hollow," the two have gadgets and inventions which were far ahead of their time (and thus completely illogical to those around them). Their efforts to solve the disappearances are clumsy and awkward, but somehow they stumble onto clue after clue. All the while they exchange silly and witty bon mots while trying to outsmart the bad guys and themselves. Even better performances come from Pryce and especially Cavaldi, who is evil, smarmy and pathetic.
Always a stickler for historic details, Gilliam's costumes and set design are perfect for 1804 Europe (the film was shot in Prague), when Napoleon was at the peak of his powers and the continent was pretty much under French control.
Weaved throughout the film are any number of the Grimm fables, including "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty," "Rapunzel," "The Frog Prince," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Hansel And Gretel" and "The Gingerbread Man," among others, while the iconoclastic Gilliam throws in subtle and not-too-subtle jokes, dialogue and situations.
Here, many who may not understand or appreciate the director's roots, may turn away and condemn the project, misinterpreting Gilliam's often-frantic camera-work and reliance on special effects as a metaphor for his lack of vision or ingenuity. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Grimm," while certainly not up to the standards set in some of his earlier work, is nonetheless an interesting, creative and visually-intriguing film. Yes, it does tend to bog down every now and then, while the violent comedy, at times, is a bit forced, but, overall, that detracts little from the entire film.
The Brothers Grimm
Action / Adventure
The Brothers Grimm
Action / Adventure
Folklore collectors and con artists, Jake and Will Grimm, travel from village to village pretending to protect townsfolk from enchanted creatures and performing exorcisms. They are put to the test, however, when they encounter a real magical curse in a haunted forest with real magical beings, requiring genuine courage.
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June 24, 2012 at 9:22 am