Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) Poster

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pointlessness is the point
vincent-2730 July 2003
For all those of you who decry this movie for being pointless and lacking soul, that was the point! This is an excellent movie, a true adaptation of the book, nothing more and nothing less. It is an unflinching look at the sickening excesses of a consumption based culture of America during the early 1970's, who's vacuous heart resides in Las Vegas, a symbol of greed and debauchery. The pointlessness of the movie is a metaphor for the pointless pursuit of personal gratification and greed, the true heart of the "American Dream".

If you put aside the usual assumptions about a movie, i.e. that you are supposed to care about the characters, that their needs to conflict and resolution etc, then you will enjoy it much better. This movie is a magical ride and actually works on many levels, not only as testimony to the horrors of excessive drug use, and the tacky, ugly view of the worst parts of America, but also to the failed 60's generation, a generation that thought that "somebody somewhere is guarding the light at the end of the tunnel". Drug use is simply a way of escaping your present reality, and all the drugged out zeroes of the sixties were truly lost if they thought that enlightenment and peace could come from a hit of acid. This movie takes Timothy Leary's supposition of "freeing your mind" to it's ultimate conclusion and the conclusion is that you are not actually freeing your mind, but destroying it.

Of course this movie is also fun to watch the incredible performances by Johnny Depp and Benitio Del Torro, both of whom I barely even recognized in their roles (Depp with a shaven head and the bloated Del Torro who gained 40 pounds for his portrayal of "Dr. Gonzo"). Del Torro has one scene in particular (the bathtub scene) which is both disgusting and very disturbing. Apparently his performance was so convincing that he had a hard time getting work after this film because everyone was convinced that he was wasted on the set. The truth is that he's just a damn fine actor who didn't hold back for one second, which is exactly what the film called for. Also the scene of Johnny Depp squealing like a banshee after imbibing some adrenocrome and Del Torro freaking out behind him is unforgettable.

The directing itself is fast paced with offseting angles a lot of wide angle lenses. Gilliam has a style which is unmistakable, it's like walking around inside of a Dali painting, everything is distorted and stretched to create a strong sense of surrealism. Yet his approach is much less offensive than Oliver Stone, who desperately throws every single filming trick at you repeatedly until you are pummeled into submission. Wow, look he switch to 8 mm, then black and white, now it's slow mo all in 3 seconds!

Anyway, I digress. This is a fine movie, don't watch it stoned, you'll get more out of it, repeated viewings are recommended. I also recommend getting the criterion DVD version, which has commentary by Gilliam, Depp, del Torro and Hunter S. Thompson himself!
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Genius + Genius = ...
whole_orange_truck19 May 2004
'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' was originally an Article published in two parts in Rolling Stone Magazine. It was written by Hunter S. Thompson. It tells the story of a journalist reporting on the Mint 500 in Las Vegas.

Terry Gilliam (the Director) is an accomplished film maker who began his career as one of the members of Monty Python. He did all of their animations.

These two men on their own are incredibly clever and gifted artists in their chosen medium. What we get from this combination is one of the best films ever made. It is a more or less true story. It is a wonderful view on the warped nature of American 'Culture' from a completely askew angle. Drugs, drugs and more drugs, but instead of preaching their evils or telling you how fabulous life is when you're on acid, you get a very unbiased experienced approach to their use and abuse.

Visually the film is amazing and both Johnny Depp and Benizio Del Toro are true to the book. I couldn't possibly recommend this film more highly.
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"We can't stop here. This is bat country!"
MovieAddict20166 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a twisted, outlandish venture into the mind of a warped junkie, a reporter who is traveling to Nevada in order to cover a Hells Angels motorcycle race, along with his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro, who gained forty pounds for his role). "We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold," is the line that opens the movie in an expeditious manner, as a red convertible roars from right to left, in the direction of Las Vegas. The vehicle's trunk is packed with an abundance of deadly drugs. "We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers. Also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, two dozen amyls."

The narrator of the story is Raoul Duke (played by Johnny Depp), a balding, stumbling shell of a man, constantly smoking or inhaling drugs, his body overloaded with deadly substances. He is in a permanent daze throughout the entire film, constantly consuming drugs every time the camera pans onto him. He is also the reporter, the main character of the film, and he is in such a daze that after the motorcycle race is over, he's not even sure who has won. So sitting cramped in his increasingly trashed hotel apartment, he begins clacking away mumbo-jumbo on his typewriter, desperately trying to make sense of the seemingly frenzied world surrounding him.

The year is 1971, the beginning of the after-effects of the frivolous sixties. Raoul still seems to think that he is living in the past decade. He explains that his carefree ways were out of place for such an area as Las Vegas, and in one of the funniest scenes in the entire movie, he visits a conference detailing the dangers of substance abuse, and inhales cocaine throughout the seminar (led by the late Michael Jeter).

The movie is based on the semi-autobiographical memoirs of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who traveled to Las Vegas in 1971 with an overweight "Samoan lawyer" named Oscar Zeta Acosta. According to Thompson's novel, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," originally published at the end of the decade, they broke many laws and were essentially high on various dangerous substances the entire time. In his novel, Thompson used the character Raoul Duke as a relation to his own past, and the pair's psychedelic weekend as a metaphor for the Lost America. After the sixties, during the Vietnam War, Americans were deeply confused, and turned to many dangerous substances for answers. Some critics claim that "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" glamorizes drugs. If anything, it demonizes them (sometimes quite literally), and the constant drug use is merely present to account for the duo's wacky behavior.

That's not to say that "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a harmless film. Under the wrong circumstances, it could be misunderstood, which is why it was nearly slapped with an X-rating by the MPAA, and -- along with the book -- caused outrage when it was released in 1998, alongside the utter disaster "Godzilla."

Depp is the reason the film's narration succeeds as well as it does -- a lesser actor might come across as annoying. Depp seems to be channeling the physical freedom of Steve Martin and the slurred speech patterns of Thompson himself -- although he was given ample time to pick up on Thompson's mannerisms, since they spent much time together prior to shooting and throughout the filming process.

But what is essentially so fascinating about "Fear and Loathing" is its blazing style and blatant uniqueness. Brought to the screen by Terry Gilliam ("Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Brazil"), one can only expect the movie to be strange, but it is severely distorted to the point of insanity. What is even more intriguing is Gilliam's use of his camera, cinematography and backgrounds -- the camera essentially takes on the role of a third person, as it is constantly moving, positioned at awkward angles against harsh, dizzying backdrops, wallpapers and carpets. The overall effect of the movie is the equivalent of getting high -- only this probably isn't as dangerous. Probably.

In some ways, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is an utter mess of a movie -- pointless, sick, but yet it is also occasionally hilarious, and I found myself very entertained. I am not usually a fan of these sorts of movies, which only helps account for my extreme surprise in finding that I not only enjoyed "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," but found it to be an important art house movie -- bizarre, mystifying, strange, bewildering. It is as if Fellini directed a Cheech and Chong movie. It is an experience unlike any other, and although I can completely understand the negative reviews it received upon its release years ago, I find myself somewhere in between the haters and the die-hard cult fans. The film was released on a Criterion DVD last year; a sign that despite its infamous background it actually has a fairly strong legion of fans. In some ways the movie is as confused and wandering as its narrator. It's somewhat pointless, but incidentally, I think that is the point.
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The art of character acting...
smriga15 December 2004
I think the people who reviewed this film are a bit warped for thinking of it as anything less than a masterpiece. This film comes from the glorious days of Johnny Depp taking obscure roles in films and totally immersing himself in the character. Benecio Del Toro's performance was second to none, and I cannot for the life of me comprehend why someone would think this to be the "worst movie ever". God save us that we actually have to think a little when we sit in those awful theatre seats. Heaven forbid we're required to use our imagination a little bit and not have it handed to us in the form of Hollywood mindless pap. The film, del toro, Depp, and of course, Gilliam are all brilliant. I pity the fools who gave this movie a negative review and fail miserably in articulating their reasoning.
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Visual masterpiece with Thompson's message intact and strong as ever.
jduke5 September 2002
I have read countless reviews of this movie that have derided it for everything from glorifying drugs to being unchristian to being boring. Maybe my mind works very much like director Terry Gilliam's (I loved 'Brazil' and '12 Monkeys'), but the last thing I would do to this movie is deride it. It is a brilliant adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's generation-defining book of the same name - it stays very faithful to the events in the book.

First of all, this movie literally glows with Gilliam's eye for detail that he has consistently displayed throughout his career. The sets are so elaborate, one could never take in all the scenery from any number of viewings without slowing it down and watching very closely. The bombardment of the bright, flashing lights of Las Vegas and the bizarre camera angles, as well as surreal sets make for an interesting and entertaining presentation regardless of a lack of coherency and taste. What we have here is a movie riddled with black humor and a horrifying satire of the American dream. I'll admit it takes a very `unchristian' viewpoint to laugh at the `straight economics' of allowing policemen to gang-f**k a girl for $30 a head. Therefore, people bound by a constricting sense of morality should never have watched this movie in the first place. It is for people like me who enjoy living a very un-stoic life (at least vicariously through movies) by having radical ideas and perspectives forced upon them. Fear and Loathing is the embodiment of such a perspective - it is a gruesomely accurate depiction of the bi-product of the often-glorified 60's drug culture. And one thing that countless critics seem to carelessly omit in their analyses is the constant references to the `American Dream.' Johnny Depp (Raoul Duke/Hunter Thompson), in his verbose verbal narrations, makes quite a few references to a desparate hunt for reason behind the madness of not only this `American Dream', but the drug culture as well - "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." - Dr. Johnson (displayed before the opening scene). The problem with the waning popularity of this movie is simply that its design was not meant to appeal to the buttoned-down mainstream. People that want to laugh and cry in a movie theater and then get the hell on aren't the type of people that would enjoy seeing an unjustified drug-induced frenzy on Las Vegas. This movie has everything a critic should be looking for in a masterpiece - magnificent cinematography, lovely acting, shock value, provocation of thought, and a meaning behind it all. To freaks like me it also has immense entertainment value as well. This work will be one of my favorite movies of all time.
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One of the best films ever.
Broudie691 November 2002
It's hard to describe how good this movie is without sounding sycophantic but it really is that good. This film is based on the "true" story of when the notorious reporter Hunter S. Thompson and his then attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta went to Las Vegas to cover a bike race for rolling stone magazine but instead spent the entire trip going out of their minds on various illegal and legal chemicals. This may sound like a one trick pony for stoners and 60's throwbacks but I am neither and I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Very few films based on books manage to tell the story or capture the spirit of the original but F&L certainly manages both. The story sticks closely enough to the book without alienating the books fan base but also trims out the right areas so that the film doesn't become overly long and uninteresting.

The film is still fairly long, compared with most popcorn fare, at around 2hrs and does sag a little in places but the pace quickly picks up again. The performances are absolutely spot on with Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro virtually becoming their characters. Both are heavily disguised under make-up but their acting ability shines through. On first viewing I wasn't that impressed, it was a good film but not a great film, but after a second viewing I fell in love with it. You notice things and pick up on gags the second time around that you missed the first time. You immerse yourself in their world so much that you feel like you were there with them on the "trip" in both senses of the word. I have shown this film to most of my friends and they also have become hooked after viewing the film twice, it's such a shame that this great film works like this as I'm sure there are many people who are unwilling to give it the second chance it deserves. If you haven't seen this film I suggest you do and if you don't like it see it again. If you have seen this film and didn't like it, see it again.
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An excellent literary adaptation - and sooo much more...
hansler10 January 2003
This movie polarizes the audience like few before: while of course, there's people who like it and people who don't like it for any movie, 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' either excites or almost repulses it's critics, and I dare to say that most of the negative responses are based on ignorance, or even fear, of introducing psychedelic experiences into mainstream culture.

Personally, i regard 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' as one of my absolute favorites, definitely in my top 10, and possibly even top 3. One of the many outstanding characteristics, besides a flawless performance from its main actors, excellent direction, and maybe the greatest achievement, one of the few literary adaptations that don't have you leave the cinema with disappointment, is the visual interpretation of the influence of LSD and other psychedelica. Though it has been tried many times, in 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' it has been done in a way that in my opinion deserves an Academy Award like 'Best Visual Interpretation', were there one like that (btw, number 2 in my psychedelic charts is, interestingly, a scene from 'The Simpsons', episode 809, 'El Viaje de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)', where Homer eats super-spicy chili made from Guatemalan chili peppers grown by mental patients- that causing him an incredibly accuratel realized 'trip').

Well, I guess up until now you, the reader, can guess that I am one of those that loved the movie, and think it to be a mile stone in cinematographic history, along with 'Apocalypse Now', 'Pulp Fiction' or 'The Matrix'.
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Don't do drugs, just see this movie- Gilliam's masterpiece, perhaps
Quinoa198419 March 2000
Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a psychedelic comedy, but also an astute piece of literature-cum-political science on a period in American history that was just really strange, thus reflected by its creator. It was the pioneer in 'Gonzo journalism' and sent Thompson's star even higher than it had with Hell's Angels. Although it's one of my personal favorite books, it could have been tricky to adapt it- Alex Cox tried and failed- but somehow Terry Gilliam digs into the Thompson psychology, dementia, and off-the-wall humor, while also putting his unmistakable mark on the material. Two sensibilities thus merge, alongside the tremendous performances (underrated, despite the praise from fans) from Depp and Del-Toro. It asks an essential question- how does society end up crossing paths with the outlaws? But there's more than that- much more in fact- but it takes more than one viewing. I remember writing the first time I saw it: "This film is so bizarre you might just want to put down the bong and get high from this movie (after all, the movie contains every single known drug known to man since 1544)."

Granted, it's immediate appeal is that of a midnight movie, the ultimate midnight movie, as a work where the visual style is cranked up to a queue that goes even further than past Gilliam ventures. Distorted, sometimes tilted, widescreen angles, very bright, strange colors via Nicola Pecorini, and a beating soundtrack loaded with everything from Jefferson Airplane to Tom Jones to Bob Dylan to Debbie Reynolds (what kind of rat bastard psychotic would put that on right now, at this moment)! And aside from Depp and Del-Toro, who immerse themselves to the hilt (Depp especially is in a form here comparable to his Pirates movies- you can't see anyone else play the character, and at the same time you almost can't recognize him, a credit to Depp's 'method' style), there's hilarious supporting work from Craig Bierko, Tobey Maguire, Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton (Castration!), and Christina Ricci, and even an extremely moving and dangerous scene with Ellen Barkin.

It's not an easy film, to be certain, and it will likely appeal to those who may think 'ah, drugs, I like drugs, must be my kind of movie'. But it's not that simple; it's actually fairly critical of drug use, in an overblown, Fellini-esquire satirical manner (eg Adrenochrome, which is a tiny landmark of gonzo film-making to complement the author), and there really is no point where Gilliam, Thompson or the characters say 'take drugs'. On the other hand, there is also a critical attitude, a refreshing and brilliant one, on authority, like at the DEA convention at the hotel- again, strange times in society. At the same time the film is superb as escapist fun, in the darkest and craziest ways that only a maverick like Gilliam and his people can pull off, it's also got some layers in the substance, of Duke and Gonzo almost as relics from a former era already in 1971. With consistently quotable dialog, excruciating moments of depravity, and some of the most outrageous production design in any film, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an unlikely cult classic, and in its own delirious fashion a possible definitive work from the director alongside Brazil.
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lord_zorbon21 December 2004
Love it so much it hurts. There are so many great lines, and moments. To many to count. Johnny Depp should have received an Oscar for it. His performance is nothing short of genius. I know there never will be, but a sequel would rock. Benicio Del Toro takes a great turn as the disturbed side-kick. I wonder if his character could even tell the difference between sobriety and being high. All of the cameos are a nice treat, especially the Flea one in the bathroom, " I s-p-i-l-l-e-d L-S-D o-n m-y s-h-i-r-t..." Tobey Maguire has a great scene as well, he actually looks quite believable as the sickly albino guy. I'd say it's nothing short of incredible.
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Slippery Mice
daveisit10 July 2005
This is far from your everyday movie, and only for those with a deep appreciation for the diversity of film-making, or fans of Hunter S. Thompson. This does not mean those mentioned will enjoy it, although definitely respect the attempt. I personally found it fascinating. To portray a permanently drug induced state to the big screen was done with creativity and subtle humour. You could expect nothing less from director Terry Gilliam who has played such a massive role in the brilliant and original Monty Python works.

Having never read any of Hunter S. Thompson's work, I get the impression that justice is done for the adaptation to the big screen. An absolutely quality cast must be credited for this, ensuring a natural performance is achieved. Las Vegas which features strongly throughout the movie seems to be so appropriate when dealing with this subject matter, they just seem to go hand in hand.
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I was reviewing "Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas" on IMDb.com when the drugs began to take hold
alex-law32113 May 2012
When you start watching this movie, you'll decide if you like it or not. But if you don't want to wait, I'll tell you. This movie is so trippy, so gross, so insane, so bizarre, and so friggin' crazy! Now with that said, it's also brilliant, funny, surreal, dark, entertaining etc. The story goes like this; a Dr. Journalism, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), and his wolf man attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), are sent to Las Vegas to cover a Mint 400 motorcycle race but end up abandoning that in search of the American Dream. The two characters are out of their minds on drugs the entire time which is where the surreal factor comes into play. The film is based the famous novel by Hunter S. Thompson, which was based on real life events he experienced. I'm not kidding when I say that five minutes into this movie and you'll feel that someone drugged your drink or something. This is more than just a movie, it's an experience, and an experience like no other. If you haven't read the book or don't know what your getting yourself into, then you're gonna have one hell of a ride. Johnny Depp (of course) nails the performance of the character that the book created. What director, Terry Gilliam, did is take the book and match the images that we thought of while reading it, perfectly. Throughout the film, watching the two characters wander witlessly around Las Vegas tripping on acid, I felt like I was part of the experience. Also, Depp's performance is so good, that I started to forget that he wasn't really Hunter S. Thompson. The characters are both psychotic but in different ways. Raoul Duke has one foot in reality and another foot in a pit of madness, Gonzo, however, is off his rocker. He's just a ticking atom bomb ready to go off, I'd be scared to stay in the same room as him. But what keeps this movie going strong is the narration by Depp. Some of it's recited from the book but other times it's whatever's on his mind. Without the narration, the movie would be just one wacky thing after another. Overall, watching this movie is like being hit by a car, sucked into a tornado, spat out into a trampoline factory, raped by a wild tiger, eaten by Godzilla, thrown off the face of the Earth, and plummeting right down on the TV. Any negative reviews you may have heard about this movie make no sense. They love the book while hate the film for being so crazy and shapeless (oh, you mean exactly like the book). This is a perfect adaptation of the book. So great performances, surreal scenery, flowing narration, and a clever cameo by Thompson himself. When I first saw this movie, I liked it just fine. I've seen a few more times and every time I see it, it gets better. Now it's gotten to the point where I think it's one of the best films ever made. So if you're a Johnny Depp fan, or a Terry Gilliam fan, or a Hunter S. Thompson fan, or just in the mood for something different and I mean REALLY different, definitely check it out.
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A Cringe-Worthy Dazzling Array of Craziness
iquine27 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
(Flash Review)

This is a film.......This is a film on drugs. This film succeeds at wildly illustrating what goes through someone's mind when taking every drug under the sun; often concurrently. The bold and brash colors of Las Vegas and that environment add to the bizarre and falsely symbolic atmosphere. Depp and Del Toro completely get into their roles of irrational, erratic and disheveled guys who go through the film constantly on a cocktail of drugs. Deciphering the message of the film is as difficult as watching these grubby guys. Every scene is cluttered and grimy and highlighted with off kilter shot framing which compliments their states of mind and actually gets a little redundant. Upon reflection, it appears that the point of the film is no point at all aside from experiencing that false sheen of Vegas and the false promise of good times that type of binge will bring, which I read is what certain pockets of society were liberating themselves toward as the film takes place in the late 60s-early 70s.
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On a razor's edge.
Polaris_DiB4 December 2005
In a sense, this is kind of like the movie Terry Gilliam was born to do.

Terry Gilliam is an awesome visual director in the same way that Tim Burton is an awesome visual director: every single frame bleeds its own distinct style of beauty, but sometimes the story just doesn't hold it up, or the stylistic elements get in the way. However, what could possibly be better to found Gilliam's surreal psychedelic imagery on than Hunter S. Thompson's story of his exploration into the American Dream? Still, it's a hard thing to pull off, translating Thompson to film, and while Gilliam does succeed, it's largely from the support of the incredible cast working under him to work out. Johnny Depp and Benecio Del Toro especially have to really work on exaggerating when needed, slowing down when necessary through what feels like hundreds of hallucinogenic scenes with just barely enough narrative structure to pull them together.

Of course, the outcome is pretty fantastic, but it sets this movie squarely in the "love it or hate it" section of the world's video library, which is pretty much Gilliam's career simplified anyways.

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This film was too weird to live, yet too rare too die.
mahmus21 September 2020
Where to even start with this? What starts as a fun drug-fueled comedy slowly turns into a claustrophobic nightmare of grotesque imagery and sensory overload. I've never done any hallucinogetic drugs, but I imagine that after a while, the rush Would become a nightmare. This is an ugly movie. It's hard to watch. It's extremely uncfomfortable. And that's the point.

Terry Gilliam said in his own words: "I want it to be seen as one of the great movies of all time, and one of the most hated movies of all time." Judging by the critics' reactions, he succeded. The film has an almost perfectly split 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and many critics, including Roger Ebert, were completely appalled by it, and honestly, it's not hard to see why.

But the movie survived. It has stood the test of time. It has risen from the ashes to become stronger than ever before. It is a paradox. A joyful nightmare. A horrifying treat. This film was too weird to live, yet too rare too die.
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Extremely Outrageous
tyler-welmans11 June 2008
The film perfectly encapsulates the philosophy of extreme over-indulgence that has probably inspired every young mind at some stage, it allows the viewer to both share the utterly unadulterated experience of psychedelic excess in all it's wonderful glory, whilst ultimately reinforcing the likely unsustainability of such a philosophy in the real world.

Freelance writer Raoul Duke and his Attorney come partner in mayhem Dr Gonzo embark on a mission to report on a Desert Rally in Las Vegas, naturally stocking up for the trip with wildly excessive quantities of just about every mind-altering substance known to man...:.

"We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, a whole galaxy of multi- colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... Also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon".

Sheer brilliant mayhem ensues, the Depp/Del Torro duo deliver comedic excellence, whilst Depp in particular, having spent weeks learning Hunters impulsive mannerisms packs the film full of endlessly quotable Hunter-esquire commentary.

A few days into the trip, with a growing list of offences in their debris-strewn wake, the two lead characters barely know who they are, let alone who won the race, but that's no reason to go home.

An unrestrained portrayal of the semi-autobiographical book, with no content compromise for anyone the story is told as intended, with numerous canny nods toward Hunter S Thompson all adding to the quality of the final product (check out the IMDb Trivia page).

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Quite wandering but very funny and very imaginative – a perfect example of Terry Gilliam's work
bob the moo1 April 2003
The `unflimable' novel by Thompson is brought to the screen. Hunter S. Thompson gets a call to go to Las Vegas to cover a motorcross race. Using the advance money to purchase a load of drugs he sets out on a road trip with his crazed Samoan lawyer. However as their trip continues they encounter all manner of insanity and paranoia in their drug fuelled trip into the American dream…

Never read the book, never been a big fan of this particular culture and ever felt inclined to read any of this sort of work – however, really enjoyed the movie. The plot is, well, a trip rather than anything concrete or logical. There is a message tacked on somewhere near the end but really this is more of an experience than a story. To me the film mainly succeeded due to Terry Gilliam. His crazed sense of humour is fed through the whole piece, stopping it being indulgent or pretentious as it could easily have been.

Instead it manages to be a drug movie but also be very OTT and very. Gilliam's imagination really made Thompson's trips come to life. It must be hard to actually put something like that on film and I thought he did very well. This vision is well supported by a brilliantly pitched performance by Depp. He is on the very edge of ham with this one but gets it just right – making Thompson funny and exaggerated. De Toro is as good but is very much playing second fiddle on this one. An all star list of cameos including Maguire, Barkin, Busey, Ricci, Harmon, Penn (of & Teller), Diaz and Lyle Lovett are all enjoyable and don't detract from the film in the way cameos sometimes can (`oh look it's etc').

The film may be very loose and aimless but what did you expect? Those wanting tightness of plot and a set narrative may be let down (though there is a car chase for the teens!). However this is well worth a look as it is a funny, very imaginative film that proved a lot of people wrong when they said that it could never be filmed. Certainly anyone who likes the films of Terry Gilliam will find much of his madness here to enjoy.
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Madness! Depp & del Toro are Mesmerizing!
namashi_14 August 2012
Adapted from Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 novel of the same name, Terry Gilliam's Cult-Classic 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is Utter Madness! Its bleak, high & absolutely nuts! But Gilliam's Brutally Honest Storytelling along-with Depp & del Toro's Mesmerizing Performances take this unusual film to dizzy heights.

'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' Synopsis: An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.

'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' wasn't the finest movie going experience I had, but, its an unforgettable film, because its highly unusual & yet so grasping. I thoroughly enjoyed this ride, about these 2 imbeciles who f''k everything up & yet have a blast!

Gilliam's Brutally Honest Storytelling makes 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' so unforgettable. He delivers this "off-beat" story with so much energy & enthusiasm. Gilliam's actual vision & mastery is actually discovered in 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Gilliam, Tony Grisoni, Alex Cox & Tod Davies's Screenplay is fearlessly mad.

Performance-Wise: Depp & del Toro are Mesmerizing! They embody Raoul Duke & Dr. Gonzo, respectively & perform stunningly. They manage to hold onto to their characters even in the weirdest of situations & dialogue. Another memorable performance comes from Ellen Barkin, she's marvelous.

On the whole, 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is an unforgettable, unusual film. Highly Recommended!
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Dazed and Confused
The_StickMen26 July 2004
First off, I'd like to set up my critique of the film. I had never heard of this film prior to seeing it, it had be recommended to me by a friend once with him simply stating "its hilarious". So I wasn't quite sure what kind of hilarious experience I was in for. Usually when I see movies, I read up at least a little on the making of it, or someone involved. I knew that Depp and Del Toro were in, and I knew that Terry Gilliam directed it (I had seen Holy Grail and 12 Monkeys before this, so I really really didn't know what to expect at this point, those were two very different films). I also had never heard of the author of the book or any of the hype or popularity surrounding the movie when it was released (if any).

OK so thats what I went into the movie with, coming out of it I was...well...dazed. I really did not know what to think about it, it definitely wasn't the drop dead, laugh out loud, funny experience I was expecting it to be, although I did laugh at a lot of the stuff in the film, it was a different kind of humor than I had ever witnessed on film. I definitely dug the psychedelic style of the picture, the drugged out effects were definitely cool, creepy, and funny to witness (I have never done drugs, so this was new to me). The acting by both leads was simply amazing, you can tell they really got into their roles and were having a blast playing these drugged out losers. The dialog was a little hard to follow so I turned on the subtitles to help me out. The cameo appearances were fun to see. All in all, I have to say that I don't know what to think about this movie, I enjoyed it quite a bit and I think with repeated viewings I might enjoy it that much more.
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Awful. Just Awful.
bean-d25 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998) is one of those rare movies--oh, how rare indeed!--that I turned off without finishing. I'm amazed at how unfunny, unenergetic, and unimaginative this movie is, considering that it comes from the director of such bizarre fare as "Time Bandits" (1981), "The Fisher King" (1991), and "12 Monkeys" (1995). If there is anything that can be said about Gilliam, it is that he rarely lacks imagination. But the movie is simply boring. Boring! A movie about two men on a drug binge is boring! And lifeless too. I simply had no energy to care about Johnny Depp's character. Heck, I would have been glad to have even been annoyed! The film was literally a collection of images running in front of my eyes that I could not care less about. Abysmal. For those who love the film, I honestly do not know what you see therein.
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Boring and pointless
mrochkind24 March 2005
I'm afraid I can only report on the first 50 min. or so. Amazingly boring. Horrible acting by two greats. Had to turn it off... fortunately, it was from Netflix, so no real harm done.

Sorry, seeing guys on drugs, even from their point of view, just isn't interesting all by itself.

Looking at the rave reviews here, I'm wondering who else has been on drugs.

(As Roger Ebert has said, it's not what the movie is about, it's how it is about what it's about. On that, this movie is a failure.)

I did like the monsters in the bar scene. Too bad the movie couldn't have been about them.
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Amazing film, one of the best
pinkdevilina7 September 2013
I love love love this film and recommend a read of the book also. This movie is funny witty intelligent and a downright compelling and convincing performance by Johnny Depp of Hunter S Thompson.

In the book, Thompson's character enters his room at the Flamingo Hotel to find his Samoan Attorney checked in with a strange young girl wearing a blue painting smock in the throes of a psychotic episode. The hotel room was full of her portraits of Barbra Streisand. The girl Lucy is described in the book as 'having had the look of a beast that had been tossed into a sawdust pit to fight for its life.'

Tom Dunn pays a debt to this scene in a "Kickstarter" project gone wild. I implore you, watch this film, and also go-ogle, Tom Dunn Kickstarter.
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Weirdly entertaining
themarina116 May 2004
Most people have heard some rumors of the crazy times that were the 60s but nothing quite tops this. A bizzare look at a weekend in Vegas (gone wrong????) with two guys with too much booz, money and drugs. Based on Hunter Thompson's book (which is somewhat autobiographical) this crazy story unfolds like a bad acid trip. And most of it does take place under the influence of some narcotic. As is typical with Gilliam's directing, you almost have to be on acid to make sense of it.

With crazy stunts, fantastic acting and some of the most disgusting scenes I have ever seen, this is a great watch. Keep an eye out for guest spots and quick one liners by some very notable actors and actresses.

A must watch for Gilliam fans and a purely wacky watch for the rest.

9/10 for insane brilliance
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The hitchhiker bailed early, I should have too!
TheAgent16 February 1999
When the hitchhiker bailed out of the convertible early on, I wondered if it wasn't so much to get away from the two doped-out characters or to escape the agony of watching this movie for another hour and forty minutes.

I really could not see what the point of this movie was. It looks like it was to see how stoned the main characters could get on various controlled substances, how stupid they could act and how much property damage they could inflict in the process.

I would have liked to see the two main characters be sober for part of the movie to compare and contrast their thoughts, feelings, and behavior between when they were high and when they were sober.
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As your attorney, I suggest that you watch this
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews17 December 2009
I haven't read any of S. Thompson's work, though I do know the basic nature of it. Thus, I can't for sure determine if this is more the result of his warped imagination, or that of Gilliam. Like few, if any, other films ever made, this puts you right inside the head of someone who is high. From start to finish, that is the look, feel, sound and mood of this(as far as I know). The paranoia, the 'logic', the fear, the bizarre sights, everything. Set design, costumes and effects are all excellent, and help build the freaky atmosphere. The editing is masterful, and the cinematography has a dynamic "loose" quality to it that really adds to the experience and the feel of it. This has brilliant and impeccably delivered, infinitely quotable dialog, as well as countless unforgettable moments. The acting is incredible, Del Toro and especially Depp are spot-on. All of the roles are perfectly cast; I even liked Penn Jillette. This is engaging, and immensely so, for how far out it is. There is a lot of disturbing content, constant strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, and brief nudity. I recommend this to any and all fans of Hunter and/or Terry. 10/10
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Save your sanity!
rparham13 March 2000
This is one of the most monotonous, repetitive, boring and pointless films I have ever witnessed. Johnny Depp and Benecio Del Toro appear to wander aimlessly through their paper-thin roles and seem to do nothing in the course of the picture except ingest drugs, throw-up, trash hotel rooms and then ingest drugs a little more. If you value your time and money, avoid this film at all cost.
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