THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Review by Michael Jacobson
Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Peter Stormare, Lena Headey, Jonathan Pryce,
Director: Terry Gilliam
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2005
here to save your land from evil enchantments!"
actors sometimes phone in their performances, I guess directors can, too.
I kind of got that feeling when watching Terry Gilliam's latest offering The
Brothers Grimm. It was actually
confirmed on the commentary track, where Gilliam admitted he didn't like the
script but accepted it because he was out of work.
can't help but read into The Brothers Grimm his continuing disappointment
at the collapse of his dream project on Don Quixote.
The weather, his lead actor's health and other concerns brought that
production to a screeching halt, and ended with the insurance companies owning
everything associated with it, including his screenplay.
was a seemingly wonderful opportunity for Gilliam to open up his magic bag and
dazzle us with a couple of hours of pure dark fantasy, as he has done throughout
his career. But The Brothers
Grimm is like a Frankenstein monster that never comes to life.
There are parts that impress. But
there is no spirit.
idea is a terrific one: telling the
tale of the authors of the world's most memorable and legendary fairy tales as a
story of a couple of con artists. Their
gift for yarns of fantasy actually serves the more dubious purpose of helping
them to play on townfolk's superstitions and making a profit as a result.
Ledger (the new Matt Damon!) plays Jacob, the younger, more imaginative, and
more believing of the two brothers, while Matt Damon (the old Matt Damon?)
portrays the elder Will as more worldly, more cynical, and more burdened because
he has to look out for his younger sibling.
operate in French occupied Germany, where one of Napoleon's generals (Pryce)
uncovers their schemes and makes them an offer: instead of prison or death, they can investigate a TRUE case
of the supernatural in a haunted wood.
by Angelika (Headey), a pretty but tough woodswoman who has far more savvy when
it comes to fairy tale horrors than our intrepid brothers, they set off into
some haunted woods for an encounter with a 500 year old Mirror Queen (Bellucci),
and the story of what's been happening to the local town's children unfolds.
a plot description, it sounds pretty fun. So
what perplexes is just how limp the tale hangs on the screen.
There are some good visual effects, such as the trees that come to life
and move around, but nothing that really enthralls or engages.
Matt Damon has yet to convince me that he can bring life to a movie
solely on the strength of his starring appearance.
Heath Ledger is a personal favorite of mine, and his performance is
definitely a grace of this film, but unfortunately, not a saving one.
this be the same director that enchanted us with Time Bandits, blew open
our minds with Brazil, thrilled us with Baron Munchausen and
darkened us with Twelve Monkeys? I've
been a fan of Terry Gilliam's for decades, and to me, his work always bore a
signature style: you could watch
his movies without his name on the screen and you'd still know who made it.
I wouldn't have guessed in a hundred years that he was the auteur behind
this picture if I hadn't known better. Even
the stabs at bringing in the real Grimm fairy tales could have been fun, but
even they seem academic at best.
I have liked it more if my expectations hadn't been so high?
I don't think so. For such a clever story idea and such a great angle on how to
tell it, The Brothers Grimm should have fired the imaginations of even
the most mediocre of directors. But
the fact that it was Terry Gilliam who brought it to life definitely leads to a
greater feeling of loss for what could have, and should have been.
good quality offering from Dimension...this anamorphic transfer preserves the
cleanness and crispness of Gilliam's vision well. Detail level is good throughout, as are colors; only one or
two darker scenes show a little bit of grain and less definition.
perfectly good 5.1 sound mix accompanies the film...not a lot of demand for the
subwoofer, but the action sequences and the eerie forest effects keep the front
and rear stages occupied. Dialogue
is clear and dynamic range is fairly strong.
a commentary track from Gilliam, which is enjoyable...his always make for good
listens. There are also 12 deleted
scenes with optional commentary from Gilliam, and two production featurettes.