"The is not
a fairy tale!"
Famed for their vanquishing of demons, witches and all other
forms of evil, Wilhelm (Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Ledger) have become almost
legendary in the villages of French-occupied Germany. Even during Napoleonic
times, the people still believe in the superstitions and ghost folklore
that they have grown up with and the famous Brother Grimm know this. You
see they are frauds, charlatans that take advance of the naivety of the
simple village folk but when they actually come across a real enchanted
forest that might just be the death of them.
The return of Terry Gilliam to the director's chair should
be a time for celebration but can 'The Brothers Grimm' provide a happy ending?
The premise of the famous fairy tale writers actually been
hoaxers who use their knowledge of folktales and local superstitions to
plan elaborate schemes to con villagers out of their money is an interesting
one, especially when famed fantasy director Terry Gilliam is involved. These
latter day ghostbusters of sorts and the influences for the stories they
would later write should have made for a classic comedy fantasy but there
is something missing from 'The Brothers Grimm'.
Gilliam's trademark visual flare and ability to create a unique
world is all here but there seems to be something very subdued and almost
dated about it. Once a pioneer in visual effects, Gilliam seems to be struggling
to keep up with the advances in visual effects since his last film back
in 1998 (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). The forest sets are wonderfully
designed but awful lighting reveals them for the sets that they are. Unlike
'The Lord of the Rings' or other any modern fantasy film, the sets and setting
do not do the same impact or creativity that the new millennium films have
had as he fails to raise to the new standard. Also some of the visual effects
are well below standard. The scene were Wilhelm and Jacob are flying while
under a spell is some of the worst blue screen effects since the 80s. You
will be truly appalled.
The real plus point of the movie however is the presence of
Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in the leading roles. Confident and the brains
behind the team, Wilhelm is one who pushes his brother into their nefarious
con and of course, deals with the money. This is a role that Damon can play
in his sleep but he makes it his own. The same can be said for Heath Ledger
as Jacob, the collector of folk tales and the one who tells his brother
about the best con to run in their chosen village. He is a more sensitive
sole who actually wants to believe in real magic but this once cost him
so badly. The supporting cast are also fine with one exception. While Lena
Headley gets a chance to shine as Angelika, the tomboy trapper who the villagers
think is cursed and the beautiful and criminally underused Monica Bellucci
as the Mirror Queen is as good as ever, Peter Stormare's Cavaldi is one
of the most irritating characters to grace cinema in many a year. For such
a good actor (just watch Fargo or The Big Lebowski), this character is just
so annoying and you will despise every moment he is on the screen.
'The Brothers Grimm' is a real disappointment for those fans
that have been waiting for the return of Terry Gilliam for so long. With
Peter Stormare's character almost destroying the movie and the look of the
film been so dated, this is a fantasy film that will struggle to find itself
living happily ever after.
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is good.
Watch the movie with commentary from director Terry Gilliam. The ex-python
provides a fun and informative track for the movie. He reveals how he became
involved with the feature, saying that he didn't actually like the original
script until his friend Steven Soderbergh told him he should get involved.
He then discusses the changes that came from this and how the film developed
from there. With insights into casting, locations, sets and the visual effects
of the piece, this is a good single person commentary from the cult director.
Deleted Scenes (15.09 mins)
Entitled 'Escargot', 'Brothers in Cages', 'Cavaldi warns Will', 'In the
forest', 'Cinderella Story', 'Will to the rescue', 'The chef gets the chop',
'No hidey, hidey secrets', 'The fat soldier', 'Where is this tower', 'Sasha's
funeral procession' and 'Ready for life on the road?', these deleted or
extended scenes are accompanied by a commentary track by director Terry
Bringing the Fairytale to life (16.29 mins)
Director Terry Gilliam, production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas and stars Matt
Damon, Heath Ledger, Lena Headey, Peter Stormare, Jonathan Pryce and Monica
Bellucci talk about what drew them to the project and what it was like working
on the film. They reveal how they created the characters, with some of them
talking about playing against type, as the feature looks at the style of
the village, forest and torture sets used in the film.
The Visual Magic of 'The Brothers Grimm' (8.41 mins)
Director Terry Gilliam, digital effects supervisor John Paul Dochery, digital
effects compositor Dennis Jones, visual effects compositor Paul Round and
artist Janet Quen talk about the computer generated effects used in the
movie. The featurette looks at the wolf, the mirror and the Queen.
Watch previews of 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe', 'Flightplan' and 'Proof'
The DVD package for 'The Brothers Grimm' is pretty good. The
featurette are informative but nothing new, the commentary tack however
is well worth a listen just because it is Terry Gilliam. Fans of the film
will be pleased with the package but like the film, you can't help but think
it could have been so much better.