|Page 1 of 50:||          |
|Index||494 reviews in total|
Well, my friends, I have just returned from the earliest possible
showing of "Brothers Grimm" in my area, and I can assure you it was
well worth getting up a few hours earlier than usual to watch. However,
I would caution anyone who doesn't like Terry Gilliam's work, Matt
Damon and Heath Ledger, or the REAL brothers Grimms' stories that this
is not your average fantasy. The story is set in french-occupied
Germany in the 1700s, a real time in which real people actually lived.
Even some of the magical aspects of the story are explained by real
events (I won't spoil it for you). So quite a bit of the plot deals
with the realities of the day and age along with the fantastical
aspects of the forest and its inhabitants.
That being said, the story also deals with the opposite side of unreality-- the dark and unnaturally gruesome. This is where I think the writer hit on a brilliant point; while the real brothers' stories have happy endings and some lighthearted moments, most if not all of their stories involve some degree of blood and gore. My hat is off to Ehren Kruger for being true to that aspect of their work.
The only aspects of this movie I disliked were the unresolved ending (which I won't spoil, either) and some of the acting. Lena Headey's performance did not impress me, but it could just be lack of material to work with (a very overdone character) and the fact that I've never seen any of her other work. Matt Damon is interesting to watch as usual. Peter Stormare and Jonathan Pryce are wacky to the point of annoyance as an Italian torture specialist and a French general. The only truly wonderful performance, however, is that of Mr. Ledger, whose bumbling, scholarly, tag-along Jacob was both a sympathetic character and a side we rarely see from this multi-talented actor.
This is not a movie for everyone (I wouldn't bring children with the tendency for nightmares or irrational fears, for example). It's not a movie you'll learn from or probably want to see hundreds of times. But for the moviegoer looking for beautiful cinematography, a few good laughs, and a fairly suspenseful story, look no further.
Rather than fight yet another war with Hollywood (see: "Brazil", "The
Adventures of Baron Munchausen", and "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote"),
Terry Gilliam took off his gloves and allowed the Weinsteins and
Miramax to force their will upon him. With his new film "Tideland"
coming out soon, Gilliam chose to focus his efforts on molding it,
while allowing "The Brothers Grimm" to go wherever the studio wanted to
take it. The result is by far the most commercial film to Gilliam's
name, but in this case watered-down Gilliam is better than no Gilliam,
and his first film in seven years ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in
1998) is a fun one.
"The Brothers Grimm" certainly looks like a Terry Gilliam movie, loaded with extravagant visuals and wide angled shots, although the $80 million budget did allow for his first use of CGI (it really isn't too bad, though), and it does not have the incredibly surreal feeling to it that most Gilliam films have. It takes a bit of time to get used to Matt Damon (as Will Grimm) and Heath Ledger, moreso Damon, as Ledger is surprisingly good as Jacob Grimm. The film was much more humorous than I had expected, and has plenty of subtle Gilliam humor. Many will find Peter Stormare' Cavaldi character to be extremely annoying, but I thought he was hilarious, and one of the highlights of the movie. Jonathan Pryce returns to another Gilliam movie as Delatombe, and does a decent job, although his character was a little overly obnoxious at times. Lena Headey is good as Angelika, and Monica Bellucci also pulls off a good performance, although unfortunately she does not get a significant amount of screen time.
The plot of "The Brothers Grimm" wanders a lot, and I actually thought the movie was winding down at around the 90 minute mark, but this works somewhat to the film's advantage, as it makes a fairly straightforward plot seem slightly less predictable. The film is much sillier than the promos may lead to believe, and that probably will not come us much of a surprise to big Gilliam fans. Unlike previous Gilliam movies, however, there really is no substance behind what we see on screen, so what we get is really the first 'popcorn flick' with Gilliam's name on it. Like all Terry Gilliam movies, the reaction will be mixed, and there will be some people who absolutely love it, and some who name it their worst film of the year. As far as I'm concerned, "Grimm" does not hold a candle to Terry Gilliam's previous films, but it is one of the better 'big summer movies', and I certainly felt my time was well spent watching it.
3 stars (out of 4)
Being a fan of both good old-fashioned fantasy movies and of director
Terry Gilliam, I was really looking forward to this one. I was slightly
put off when I heard Gilliam's complaints about the constant
interference of the Brothers Weinstein, but the director does have a
history of being dissatisfied with the production of projects which
actually turn out pretty good in the end, so my hopes were still pretty
Rather than being a historical biography of the famous authors, this is a fantastic make-believe story of the possible inspirations behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm. The brothers travel around Europe working as con artists, fooling simple peasants into believing they are witch-hunters and monster slayers. However, when they are captured by a French general and sent to investigate a town which is believed to have been targeted by similar con-men, they discover that there may be some truth behind the fairy tales. The very woods surrounding the town seem to be alive, a big, bad wolf stalks through the darkness and an evil power seems to emanate from a mysterious ancient tower ...
So, Gilliam tries his hand at doing a commercial summer blockbuster. And the results are, well, interesting. Primarily he shows that he can produce some great action sequences, and there are some really great visual ideas here, many of which I'll admit are entirely thanks to top-notch CGI work. These are the moments when the director's creative magic appears to shine through, and there's enough of them to make this movie worth watching. Overall it does feel strangely derivative for a Gilliam movie, but I suppose that's to be expected when he sacrifices creative control to the studio. In the past I've heard that Gilliam simply sees himself as a "hired hand" on such projects.
However, where it fails is in the mixture of action and drama, in repeatedly placing it's characters in peril whilst also making us care about them. Unfortunately this has been a problem in a lot of these big-budget fantasy/action movies lately, including last years equivalent -- "Van Helsing". The other movie with which this shares a lot in common is Tim Burton's Gothic horror "Sleepy Hollow", which was far superior to either. The main problem with the "Brothers Grimm" is that there's little to no character development in the first hour of the movie, and then almost all of the conflict between the characters is suddenly introduced in one scene. This is what we call bad pacing. And the way the characters are written seems somewhat inconsistent (although both Damon and Ledger manage to turn in decent performances all the same), and we never really get a "feel" for their personalities.
For your average light-hearted Hollywood fantasy, this is perfectly fine. But from a director with a history of making fascinating, important works of surreal art, this is somewhat short of what you'd expect.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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 is a different movie than what I expected. It turned
out to be similar to Big Fish in a way, but a little darker and with
some awesome special effects.
Will (Matt Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) start off as shysters, bamboozling local town people by setting up elaborate and "supernatural" schemes and charging heavily to ward off monsters, witches or anything else.
The story actually starts getting interesting when they run into an actual supernatural occurrence (or fairy tale). It seems that children have been vanishing in some "enchanted woods" and the French believe it is a scam similar to ones the Grimms have pulled.
While fighting off beasts and such, The Brothers Grimm encounter people who obviously inspire stories such as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack & The Beanstalk, Snow White and others. Altogether, things fill out quite nicely. It never comes straight out and says that Grimm's Fairy Tales comes from these stories but it gives the audience enough credit to figure that out on it's own, even though it is quite obvious.
Lena Headey deserves to be mentioned as the lovely Angelika. She plays a hardened and tough hunter/trapper who helps The Grimms and is also the love interest, which I guess is expected. Also, Monica Bellucci was a good addition as the "mirror queen".
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Like I said, more than I thought I would have. The special effects were very nice. The trees move realistically like snakes. More believable than some of the giant snake movies I have seen, anyways. I can recommend this movie. If you like Tim Burton style of movies, then you should like this one as well. 8/10
People have a curious tendency not to notice how bizarre and gruesome
children's fairy tales often are. Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers Grimm"
does notice. Unfortunately, that's just about its only insight into the
subject. The film shows no understanding of what makes fairy tales
memorable and exciting, or why they have endured through the ages.
A much better handling of the subject is the 1962 film "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm," which intersperses a realistic though nonfactual account of the brothers' lives with dramatic recreations of the tales they collected. I'm not saying that Gilliam had to do a retread of the same material. I would be very happy to see a remake with a radically new approach, as long as it respects the underlying subject matter. Gilliam's film does not. Its storyline is mostly a long string of fantasy and horror clichés that remind us far more of contemporary movies than of classic fairy tales. The Big Bad Wolf, for example, has been reduced to a standard-issue wolf-man (brought to life with digital effects that are just a tad too jerky to be excused in our age of high-tech movie-making).
In this version, the brothers (Heath Ledger and Matt Damon, both inexplicably adopting English accents) are con artists who go from town to town posing as conjurers who can protect the local populace from evil spirits. A French general (Jonathan Pryce) catches on to what they're doing and forces them to work for him, on pain of death. But when they're sent to a new town, their old tricks prove useless against an age-old curse that really does haunt the woods.
The movie belongs to the old genre where famous writers become characters in their own stories. It's a genre I've never much liked, maybe because it suggests a failure to comprehend the powers of human imagination. ("No one could have made up these stories; they must have really happened!") But I have enjoyed a few films of this kind, such as the 1979 movie "Time After Time," where H.G. Wells builds a time machine and travels to the 1970s in pursuit of Jack the Ripper. This type of story has to work hard to achieve the willing suspension of disbelief. "The Brothers Grimm" fails on that front because it changes its reality too often. In an early scene, we're shown an intense battle with an awesome-looking banshee. Then the whole battle is revealed to have been staged. And then, later on, we're asked to believe that magic really does exist in this world after all. These repeated shifts in the story's reality are profoundly disorienting.
The source of disarray in the woods is an undead queen (Monica Bellucci) trying to regain her youth in an elaborate spell that will be completed once she sacrifices a series of children from the town. She resides in a tower in the woods, appearing as a skeleton on one side of a mirror and as a beautiful woman on the other. Her magical control over the woods serves as an excuse for numerous scenes of mysterious enchantment, most of which have a very tenuous connection to the central plot. The trees in the forest seem to have a life of their own, walking around when no one's looking. A mysterious creature lurks at the bottom of a well. The wolf-man is a servant of the mirror queen, using magic to ward off would-be visitors. But a coherent story never emerges from these elements. The screenplay seems to make up the rules as it goes along, inventing whatever is convenient at any given moment. Every now and then, some familiar quote is referenced--"Who is the fairest of them all?"; "What big eyes you have"; "You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man"--but always gratuitously. The movie's magical story is formless and convoluted, lacking any consistent narrative logic. It comes off as a series of elements arbitrarily glued together.
As a result, the magical sequences lack payoff. We keep waiting for something wondrous to happen, then nothing does. In one sequence, for example, two children named Hans and Greta are making their way through the woods, leaving a trail of bread crumbs in their wake. We eagerly await the children's encounter with the gingerbread house run by the cannibalistic witch, or at least something of comparable interest. But just about the only thing that happens is a mysterious sequence involving a levitating shawl. Like many other sequences in the film, this one doesn't go anywhere and has only the faintest connection with the mirror queen story.
No doubt there's an important theme at work in scenes like this. The movie is suggesting that the classic fairy tales are the result of accounts that have been embellished over time. But other writers have handled this theme much more effectively. Gregory Maguire's novel "Wicked," for example, turns "The Wizard of Oz" into a sophisticated adult fantasy with complex character motives and sly social satire. In that novel, there is a definite implication that we are being told the "real" story, and that the conventional version is the corruption. But the novel handles this conceit by expanding on the story, not degrading it. There's no point in creating a revisionist fairy tale if it's going to be less fleshed out than the original.
I don't think myself overly literary for reading Bruno Bettelheim's
"The Uses of Enchantment," but forgive me for being obscure. In his
book, Bettelheim analyzes common fairy tales for their underlying
psychological and cultural meanings. He makes a great argument for the
telling of fairy tales, even if they are slightly (or more than
slightly) graphic, which is why I am partly able to explain my
fascination with this film.
It's not really overly good really, as you've probably seen more of a seven out of ten, but yet it fascinates me. Perhaps it's the psychological element between the two brothers (which is done quite well) about the importance/existence of magic, or the surreal score peppered with Brahms and Dario Marianelli originals. (I have no idea who this guy is, but the soundtrack is so weird that I want it.) Perhaps it's the horror invoked by the fairy tale images of our childhood, brought horribly to life in the (thankfully) twisted mind of Terry Gilliam.
Oh, a little note about Terry Gilliam. You're going to have to forgive him because his pace can be a little bit feverish, and he tends to lose the viewer that's not paying attention. (He did make "Time Bandits" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and you know how much of THAT made sense.) Do not question how the Grimm boys get from one end of Germany to another so quickly. Your head will explode.
Basically, this film makes me happy for a couple of reasons: one, the dialogue. It's strangely antiquated one minute, then purely Hollywood the next. (Don't worry about the anachronisms they're supposed to be there, they're funny.) Two, his name starts with Heath and ends with Ledger. Now, I didn't used to like this guy. I thought he was just a deep throated Aussie, but the boy's got range. I didn't know he could lack confidence so well. (Now I'm teasing, but really, he's quite good.) Damon was wonderful as always, proving over and over again that he may not be the prettier, but he's the smarter half of "Ben-att". Three, they're fairy tales in their ghoulish, bloody glory. Wait till you see both Little Red Riding Hood scenes, you'll totally freak out. It's nightmarish in such a way that you can't take your eyes off it. It's not morbid fascination, like a car accident, but something deeper, the sense of childlike wonder that make kids watch the most disgusting thing (like insects or TOADS) for hours.
What is the point? You might ask. Why should I see this piece of rubbish instead of "The 40 Year Old Virgin" for the 6th time? Or, in the long run, rent "The Princess Bride"? (You should rent both by the way, it'd make a lovely double feature.) Well, I still can't watch the waxing scene, but here's the real point: Fairy tales have a purpose. They give us comfort when we are in crises, and delight and frighten us when we need to have fun. What we see in Ledger's character (Jacob) is the child who shelters himself with fairy tales. What we see in Damon's (the older, Will) is the adult who wants to take him away from him. And as Bettelheim says, fantasy is not nearly as cruelly unforgiving as reality, so let him keep them. I still need a little Sleeping Beauty now and then. There's something strangely comforting about waking to true love's kiss.
I have to begin this review by letting you know right off that I
thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I haven't adored everything Terry
Gilliam has done, but I don't hate his style, either. Rather, I judge
each movie by its own merits.
This work is adventurous, exciting, and story-driven. Most would probably consider this work action-driven, but I find there IS a good solid story behind the action. It has moments of suspense, breath-taking imagery, and stylized humor. It is a great movie.
A great movie, which has obvious flaws.
Regardless of how much I enjoyed this movie, there was one element which nagged at me the whole time I was viewing this work. Mind you, I have not seen this on DVD, so I am unaware if they have created the DVD "fix" for this yet, or not. I could not help but notice, in several places, the editing seemed stiff.
I am fervently hoping that this came from a paring down of those scenes. If such is the case, then I am also (just as fervently) hoping they give us (the US & Canada) a Region 1, 2-disk Director's Cut with those scenes edited BACK IN! I hate it when they include the deleted scenes outside the movie. Put those back where they belong!
On the flip side...
With the release of Underworld in 2003, the sub-sub-genre of Action/Horror has taken a turn at the box office. Just as, "The Worst Witch," revived the interest in Magick and fantasy, and generated an audience for the later, "Harry Potter," series, so did, "Underworld," revive the Horror genre and the appreciation for the blending of Horror and Action.
This work, "The Brothers Grimm," as an Action/Horror, does not foot the bill. There is too little Horror and the action is sometimes a bit subdued. There are places where CGI and/or choreography is obvious thereby breaking the Spell so competently woven by the story and virtue of the characters. However, it IS too dark for the kiddies, and still quite enjoyable.
I was not disappointed, but I was not elated over the final product, either. Here's hoping for a GOOD "fix" (and a timely release) of the 2-disk Region 1 Director's Cut DVD release.
It rates an 8.6/10 from...
the Fiend :.
Are you familiar with the Grimm fairy tales? Did you like the way
"Shakespeare in Love" explained how Shakespeare might have gotten his
ideas for "Romeo and Juliet?" Did you like "Shrek?" Are you a fan of
Matt Damon or Heath Ledger? Do you think Monica Bellucci is hot? If
your answer to any of the above questions is "yes," and you are willing
to suspend disbelief (because boy is this movie inconsistent if you
actually think about it) this film will provide an entertaining
diversion. It's funny, interesting, exciting, and even a little scary
(so don't bring your little children if they get scared easily).
The premise - Matt Damon and Heath Ledger are the Brothers Grimm, famous around French-occupied Germany for driving away demons, though they are, in fact, con artists with fancy gadgets and conspirators for special effects. They use the money they collect for their "services" to finance their operations. The French occupying government catches them and sentences them to death, unless they out-con the conman who is causing little girls to disappear in a town alongside the woods. In this town and the neighboring woods are the inspirations for numerous Grimm fairy tales, including Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood.
The characters aren't the most deep of film characters, but they are developed enough to be distinctive and convincing. Will Grimm (Matt Damon) is the brains behind the team, with a very realistic desire to protect his brother, even as he harbors a constant anger at him for blowing the only opportunity to save their little sister's life when they were children. Jake (Heath Ledger) is the dreamer, convinced that there is truth in legend, and that with courage and effort, any problem can be solved. Predictably but not boringly, the two of them provide the perfect team to fight what turns out to be a real-life, magical, evil danger.
The special effects aren't the best; some of the cgi creatures move quite jerkily, but when they're good, they work. The sets are beautiful, and fit the Grimm fairy tale world well. The costumes are likewise gorgeous and apt.
If you think about this film enough to ask questions like, "if evil magic was real, how come the brothers are famous instead of having been discredited the first time they pretended to fight off a real evil presence and it continued to haunt people?" then you will be disappointed. However, if you are willing to suspend disbelief, you'll be in for an entertaining summer popcorn treat.
|Page 1 of 50:||          |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Official site||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|