Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring:||Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Monica Bellucci, Jonathan Pryce, Lena Headey|
|Producer:||John D. Schofield, Daniel Bobker, Chris McGurk|
Eliminating Evil Since 1812 / No curse we can’t reverse. No spell we can’t break. No demon we can’t exterminate.
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Brothers Jake and Will Grimm, renowned collectors of folklore, have made a career out of traveling from village to village pretending to rid them of “enchanted” creatures. Their bluff is called, however, when they are forced by Napoleon’s French government to investigate a haunted forest where girls have been disappearing mysteriously. What they discover leads to a series of adventures involving an actual evil (and immortal) sorceress that mirrors that of mythology and the fables that the Brothers Grimm would eventually become famous for.”
Sowing your time at a showing of Terry Gilliam’s newly fandangled fantasy film will cause you to reap some grim images, but will also bear some enjoyable and fun fruit as well. Ultimately, “The Brothers Grimm” is fashioned with a familiar fairy-tale formula, replete with various depictions of evil, but one that results in a redemptive, happy ending.
Reminiscent of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical “Into the Woods” this adventure includes a mish-mash of various children’s fairy tales and begins in the same “once upon a time” manner. This “Grimm” tale starts off in French occupied Germany in 1796 with two young boys who are trying to save their sick mother, but one of them exchanges all they have for magic beans. Eighteen years later, these two brothers, Jake (Heath Ledger) and Will (Matt Damon) work as con-artists pretending to exorcize witches, but find themselves caught up in a bigger mission to help save missing children from the evil Queen Mirror (Monica Bellucci).
As in any fairy tale, there is the depiction of good, as well as evil. This movie is rated PG-13 and does take some liberty to show some dark, gruesome images. Much of the idea is to have the same scary feel that you would have while reading a fairy tale, but also pushes past that at various moments. For example, there is one image of two heads that have been decapitated, one man who has been cut in half and a silhouette of a small boy being swallowed by a horse.
On a more positive note, there is a wealth of humor involved throughout the story. This is the best piece I have ever seen Ledger perform in, and he does well as the quirky, insecure brother. Both he and Damon bungle around enough and give you something to laugh at. Even better are the performances by Peter Stormare and long time Gilliam cohort, Jonathan Pryce. They are sharp and highly entertaining. There were, of course, Monty Python style incidents, with one in particular where everyone does a spit bit.
Most of the language is very decent throughout, save an instance or two where Christ’s name is used in vain. There is also no nudity, but one scene takes place in a tavern where Jake and Will are becoming fairly intoxicated. This sequence also includes Will taking two girls up to the bedroom with him, and later shows him waking up in bed with the two of them. They are all fully clothed, but the implication is clear.
Terry Gilliam has certainly kept in sync with his style of filmmaking with “The Brothers Grimm”. The CGI is a little distracting, but some of the other choices, such as the cartoonish opening credits, are very effective. It has taken a while for this movie to finally be released, but one thing I found out was that the director did not want to compromise the film. Before its release, I bumped into Matt Damon who told me Terry spent a long time in the editing room working with the studio—but that he finally got his cut. It’s refreshing to see that this kind of commitment still exists.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/nudity: Mild
Year of Release—2005 / USA release: August 26, 2005 (wide).