The Brothers Grimm Reviews
With all of its strange fantasy elements and use of visual effects, The Brothers Grimm is very much like Terry Gilliam's later film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, though this one is significantly more of a narrative driven concept than one which exists primarily for the purpose of showing off visual effects. However, even then there is a very thin narrative in The Brothers Grimm. With such a dull story, The Brothers Grimm largely feels burdened by the narrative as it limits the potential for visual exploration to having to follow such a generic tale. You would hope that there would be area for Terry Gilliam to explore all kinds of mythology in The Brothers Grimm, but in actual fact the narrative is overly simplistic. The Brothers Grimm has a story which never realy goes anywhere, lacking the surreal mystery of his finest pieces or the characters of his most touching works. Instead, this film meets those points somewhere lazily in the middle with thin characters and a severly limited story. Terry Gilliam remains as much of a visual mastermind as ever, but he doesn't break all that much ground in The Brothers Grimm which is surprising as you would think that a dark fairytale story would be right up his alley. Evidently, this is not the case. The story in The Brothers Grimm just seems to go in circles without enough fantastical creativity to justify it, rendering it a slow and repetitive feature which lacks the large scale that a real adventure film demands. It is not a film which is bereft of charm, but there is a high demand for adventure and creativity when Terry Gilliam is involved, when two high profile actors are portraying the leads and when the film costs a whopping $88 million to produce. Unfortunately, the word to describe The Brothers Grimm is overblown. To have that much money and come up with a film with such a dull story is such poor form from Terry Gilliam who is really a talented filmmaker, having done so much more with so much less in the past. I don't know what the difficulties were with The Brothers Grimm, but the problems rest predominantly on the story. The screenplay itself just doe not have the originality that it needs to succeed, nor does it have dialogue with enough humourous quips to leave viewers distracted by fits of laughter. The Brothers Grimm is just not an intelligent film, or all that much of a funny one either.
To be fair, much of the imagery does have its appeal. In capturing a medieval fantasy feeling, The Brothers Grimm capitalizes on scenery, production design and costumes which all make a meaningful contribution to establishing the time period of the film. As well as that, it is all captured with stylish cinematography which uses clever techniques to manipulate the mood of the scenes. This combines well with the visual effects. Though the CGI in The Brothers Grimm may not be groundbreaking, the way that Terry Gilliam makes use of them is interesting. If you know his general sense of style in filmmaking then you might believe that the somewhat artificial nature of the visual effects is to intentionally create a senes of proscenium that reflects the ludicrious nature of a fairytale story which the narrative in The Brothers Grimm clearly makes many references to at times. The visual effects are used to create mythological creatures and play with the viewer's sense of reality while being moderated well enough so that hte film is not excessively reliant on them. I certainly feel that The Brothers Grimm depended too much on imagery and not enough on story, but the CGI in the film is at least spread out enough and moderated with the legitimate scenery and set pieces.
And even though the film is weighed down by a script with such thin characters, the charm of the two lead actors in The Brothers Grimm prove to be one of the finest aspects of the film.
Heath Ledger proves himself to be the most talented actor in the cast of The Brothers Grimm. As the lead in the story, Heath Ledger really reaches out to the fantasy world around him and finds ways to immerse himself in it. He really pushes the limits on his more familiar characters in The Brothers Grimm because he finds a spirited level of flamboyance in the role which Terry Gilliam is really able to capitalise on with the sense of atmosphere in the film. The narrative may not be perfect, but Heath Ledger's solid performance makes a really likable protagonist to have the story move along with. He is so physically engaged in the spirit of the role that he creates a marvellous chemistry with Matt Damon.
Matt Damon's performance in The Brothers Grimm is also a spin on the conventional character he is more accustomed to. Putting him into a narrative where he has to capture a sense of flamboyant English charm, Matt Damon establishes that he has no problem going for that. Matt Damon puts likable and energetic charm into his role in The Brothers Grimm without going over the top but rather finding just the right line to go for. He works very wel under the direction of Terry Gilliam and makes a powerful duo with Heath Ledger, rendering his charms a certain asset to the sporadic success of The Brothers Grimm.
So The Brothers Grimm benefits from the flamboyant and spirited talents of Heath Ledger and Matt Damon as well as the fact that Terry Gilliam maintains his iconic eye for surreal imagery, but the excessively repetitive and uncreative story fails to capitalize on these elements and renders the film a dull, slow and tedious film which lacks the sense of fantasy or adventure that it so desires.
A fine if cliched mish-mash of fairy tales and lore.