Mini-review and obligatory digression.
Minor spoilers for various movies below.
The Brothers Grimm could’ve been worse, but it could’ve been better too. I think it’s safe to say that Gilliam isn’t hitting the top of his form with this one.
It just seemed like a standard Hollywood sort of supernatural horror/adventure flick. Seemed a little to scary for young kids, but a little simplistic, tame and predictable for adults. Also kind of goofy here and there (maybe “hammy” is the word, although I think it’s the direction more than the actors who brought it about) without being really funny enough to laugh at most of the time. And the inter-personal drama and character growth seemed like it was sort of forced into the script, almost like an afterthought, rather than arising naturally from the characters.
It also had Gilliam’s trademark elements of storybook reality vs. mundane reality. But again: although the visual aspects of the movie supported these elements, the dialogue regarding them seemed forced and a bit “off”.
And what is it with Gilliam and the Napoleonic era? Everything is better with ridiculous French generals?
But, I did really like some aspects of the movie.
The basic story, though a standard plot, would’ve been ok enough. Details of the setting and some of the special effects were wonderfully evocative, and without hogging all the attention. The magic struck me as having great verisimilitude or just “felt right”. In general the supernatural elements seemed organic, not forced, and rarely felt like random stuff just thrown in there.
When I got out of the theater it occured to me that The Brothers Grimm is the yang to the yin of another movie I’d seen within the past year: The Village.
The Village also had a really evocatively depicted setting. M. Night Shyamalan did a wonderful job of portraying the varying mood, tone, and pace within a close-knit anachronistic community. Additionally it had interesting characters and character interaction. Even the strange and ominous nature of the creatures, though ultimately a sham, was portrayed with appropriate subtlety and discression, neither completely starving the viewer of encounters, nor removing the mystery.
I think the main shortfall of The Village is that it was touted as a thriller with a suprise twist. But the twist, though somewhat interesting, was sort of anti-climactic and not totally shocking or even the greatest shock in the movie.
If a movie could be contrived that was modeled after The Village but with just a tiny bit of the action, inherently real supernatural stuff, and possibly a couple of the special effects of The Brothers Grimm. That might be a truely wonderful thing to behold (IMHO of course).
She Dragon and I were talking about it last night and came to the conclusion that The Village might have been somewhat improved if most of the movie was the same, but the underlying secret premise, when finally revealed turned out to be different.
For example, say that the “creatures” ended up being real and were in fact fae beings of some sort. Also it turned out that most of human civilization had crumbled (either through intervention of these creatures or through human born apocalypse) and that these beings, though elusive, were inheritors of most of the world. And maybe this village was the last vestige of humanity, or one of the last.
Or something like that.