Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.
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
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)
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