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. Written by
Like his Baron Munchhausen, Gilliam's Brothers Grimm has been horridly misunderstood by critics and public alike. What I get from the comments and reviews is the sense of thwarted expectations, although I have little idea what the anti-Grimms expected in the first place. People dislike the kitten scene because it's a cute kitten. This I find entirely in the grotesque spirit of the original folk tales. We've learned to take our fairy tales Disneyfied, apparently. I've also heard complaints about the quality of the special effects as sub-ILM quality. Frankly, that's what I liked about them. They *didn't* look like ILM; they looked personal. I admit I found the basic premise a cliché (two con men who make their living on the superstitious gullible find out that, in this case, the magic is real), but its working-out overcomes this basic flaw. This is a movie that shuns cliché. The brightest scenes, for example, almost always contain the greatest menace. Relative safety is drab, dirty, brutish, nasty, and short. Ledger gives an amazing performance -- I had previously regarded him as a Troy Donahue update. Matt Damon shows he has the chops to cross over from small "indies" to big performances in the old leading-man vein. Peter Stromare and Jonathan Pryce do a highbrow Martin & Lewis -- Stromare all over the place and Pryce coolly self-contained -- to hilarious effect. The faces alone in this movie are wonderful, hearkening back to the glory days of Leone. There are so many telling details in the background ("Bienvenue a Karlstadt") -- let alone the foreground -- that show Gilliam's mastery. Harry Potter (which I enjoyed), Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia are for the kiddies and show us worlds we can, with effort, control. Gilliam doesn't offer any such comfort, not even at the end. The sense of menace is overwhelming, and Gilliam achieves it without super-special effects, usually camera movement (the shots following Little Red Riding Hood through the forest made my jaw drop). A brilliant film, operating at a high level we don't see much of these days. Someone compared the movie to Burton's Big Fish, another film dismissed or ignored by critics and public. Although Burton's and Gilliam's sensibilities differ, I take the writer's point. The confident, poetic handling of myth and archetype in both astonishes.
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