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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look: 29.41%
Average: 29.41%
Pretty Bad32.94%
Total Crap: 2.35%

9 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Brothers Grimm, The
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by Erik Childress

"A Title Just Too Damn Close For The Weinsteins"
3 stars

Terry Gilliam, for a large group of movie fans, is their personal Spielberg. An imaginist and a visualist unlike most others, although Tim Burton certainly fills in the blanks while he is away. The only limits to his imagination come from the moneymen behind the projects trying to limit his budget; one which is bound to spiral out-of-control anyway thanks to his preceding reputation for perfectionism. His previous outing, the ill-fated Don Quixote epic, became the subject of the terrific Lost In La Mancha documentary. All the drama with Harvey Weinstein and Miramax had us wondering whether we’d ever be seeing his latest fantasy; one tailor-fit for his appreciation of the dark and bizarre. Dumping into late August appeared at first to be a mercy killing and while it may be Gilliam’s weakest effort thanks to a lackluster script which can’t quite meet his vision halfway, it’s still Gilliam and that’s more than enough for some.

One of Peter Jackson’s early tales, The Frighteners, told the story of a con man faking ghostly apparitions to easily duped clientele until they turned out to be real. Gilliam’s film takes a similar approach in that Wilhelm (Matt Damon) and Jacob (Heath Ledger) have grown up not as the fanciful storytellers they will become famous for. All they tell are lies from collected superstitions and village fears that otherworldly presences are haunting them. From that they put on a good show, collect the loot and move on to the next suckers.

When they are captured by the French occupying Germany at the time, they are given the task of deciphering the mystery of missing children which has plagued a nearby town; or forced to face the tortuous devices of Commander Delatombe’s (Jonathan Pryce) right-hand man, Cavaldi (Peter Stormare). With the aid of the adventurous girl-in-a-man’s-world, Angelika (Lena Headey), who has a personal stake in the matter, the Grimm team is about to turn from the frighteners to the frightened when they discover an aging queen (Monica Bellucci) -- with a taste for the self-beauty she can reflect in a mirror -- is more than even their imaginations could muster.

This material should be a slam-dunk for Gilliam but instead comes off like a string of soft, unassisted lay-ups. The pacing is too lethargic at times thanks again to the Frenchies who keep interrupting the adventure and terror the brothers are being put through. Seemingly everytime there’s an advancement to what the Evil Queen is up to, the brothers are thrust aside to be interrogated or burned at the stake instead of fully grasping the task that lies ahead of them.

You can look no further than the screenwriter credited, Ehren Kruger, to begin placing blame. His historical fable jumbling reads like Grimm Fairy Tales For Dummies, mixing in the familiarities of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel and Snow White, to draw glimmers of recognition which not tying them together nearly as cleverly as say Shakespeare (or even George Lucas) In Love. If Kruger did any research beyond his childhood memories he may have found some inspiration in The Girl Without Hands or tied in The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth To Learn Fear into a tale about two brothers who discover campfire tales and what makes people “shudder.” Instead, no one paid attention that Jacob is the older brother, not Wilhelm.

Still, while long in the tooth for a film without any genuine insight into the brothers’ history and as simplistically plotted as one of their fairy tales, Gilliam’s touch is never in question. Whenever Jake & Will encounter the Queen’s little corner of the forest, the film explodes with life and intrigue. The set decoration alters between the utterly fantastic and looking like just that, a set. Defined with its rich colors and vast detailing, the castle tower and its surroundings purposely stand out compared to the drab village and hierarchy domains, but also indirectly reflect how little we care about what goes on at the other locations.

Gilliam fans will recognize their boy has been restricted again from crafting the all-out vision they know he’s capable of and may understand that they are giving the film a pass because of his involvement. It doesn’t soar for the set pieces that Gilliam’s other master storyteller, Baron Munchausen, achieved with magnificent authority or succeed with a true sense of darkness and dread with a neutered PG-13 rating. For the Grimms to be Grimm, an “R” rating must have been in the cards and it’s sad that no one was able to tap into the true moral nightmares of their youth. Then again, maybe when comparing their adventures to that of the Brothers Weinstein, the Grimms weren’t much scarier than Dr. Seuss.

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originally posted: 08/26/05 23:18:59
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell not grimm pretty good actually 4 stars
2/07/11 Pamela White fun take on dark age con men and karma 3 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 5 stars
6/09/07 Danielle Ophelia Indeed it is better than Van Helsing--long live Gilliam--but that doesn't take much. 3 stars
6/03/07 Beth C. this movie was very interesting and really fun to watch. 5 stars
11/30/06 Stanley Thai Meh. Gilliam kinda falls short with this film. 3 stars
10/20/06 MP Bartley Visually ravishing and loopily entertaining. The film Van Helsing should have been. 4 stars
9/08/06 drydock54321 kind of dumb 3 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Obviously an attempt at a Labyrinth-ish cult classic; So its strictly medieocre. 3 stars
7/13/06 David Cohen Gilliam's worst movie, lacked cohesion, but not terrible 3 stars
7/07/06 Doremimi If your TV has a subtitles feature, turn it on, otherwise, it's completely incoherent. 2 stars
6/27/06 chienne Loved it, different & typically Gilliam. 5 stars
1/01/06 y2mckay too dumbed down for adults, too violent for kids, weak broad humor and meandering plot. 2 stars
12/25/05 othree Disneyish butchering Grimm favorites, in good humor, family movie 3 stars
12/19/05 um fatty it was a good movie um, publish 4 stars
12/19/05 Bree It was a fun film, but less than par for Gilliam. 3 stars
9/22/05 Fritz Dollar theaters were made for this sort of movie. Entertaining. 3 stars
9/21/05 Jonathon Holmes booooooooooooring 2 stars
9/21/05 Eric Fortune I thought this movie was better than most critics said it was. I enjoyed it. 4 stars
9/19/05 Glennyce Paetzmann If you're willing to submit to Gilliam's style completely, then you might end up liking it. 4 stars
9/15/05 millersxing A disappointment. BG is to Gilliam as Sleepy Hollow is to Burton. 3 stars
9/07/05 Gray I thought it would more funny and less weird 3 stars
8/31/05 Christian lady Too choppy, boring other than the forest scenes 3 stars
8/31/05 Titus Moments of genius, but some horrible writing and acting by the supporting cast. 3 stars
8/29/05 herkos akhaion One of Gilliam's best 5 stars
8/28/05 sweetgrrl1972 Boring. I've never come so close to falling asleep in a movie theatre before 1 stars
8/27/05 cam-ron I already saw this film. It was called BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF...only that one was good. 2 stars
8/27/05 sam a wild romp i recommend for all. 4 stars
8/27/05 KingNeutron SUCKS ALL ASS; I can't blv they actually released this pile of CRAP. Ledger is miscast. 1 stars
8/27/05 Mr. Chuckles Surprisingly awesome. Almost as good as Twelve Monkeys. Almost. 5 stars
8/26/05 Ray OK 4 stars
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  26-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005



Directed by
  Terry Gilliam

Written by
  Ehren Kruger

  Matt Damon
  Heath Ledger
  Peter Stormare
  Jonathan Pryce
  Monica Bellucci
  Lena Headey

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