Review: The Brothers Grimm (with a little The Village review thrown in)

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.

About Peter

This guy lives in Boston MA with his beloved wife and two kids. You can get some idea of his likes and dislikes from posts on this website or elsewhere.

8 thoughts on “Review: The Brothers Grimm (with a little The Village review thrown in)

  1. Hmm…. so it sounds like you agree with the reviews I read – that it sort of misses the mark in some respects. It is still a movie that I want to see though. If for nothing else than Gilliam directed it and its subject matter.

  2. Yah. That’s sort of how I felt.

    Since that’s your perspective don’t want to dissuade you from seeing it. I’m just not sure from the little I know of megan’s movie tastes if it’s something she’d appreciate being dragged to.

  3. I think that’s what makes M. Night Shyamalan special in my mind. I would much rather have a twist that is super cool than scary or shocking. Everyone expects a thrilling twist; M. Night would rather have you think. To me, that makes for a much better movie.

    Perhaps I’m a bit biased; he models his style after Hitchcock, which, with a lack of music and straight-on shots, makes for a more realistic, and therefore scarier film.

  4. I sort of agree, but I think Shyamalan’s track record for “twist” endings is hit or miss. The ones I can think of for example:

    The Sixth Sense – Pretty good. I don’t think I saw it comming. And even if I did, the hints that led up to it were wonderfully subtle and the whole twist fit right into the story.

    Signs – Movie seemed to have a fair enough balance of tension, mystery, tone and believability right up until the twist. Then it turns out that all the rest of the movie was just a way to bring about the unlikely alien defeating Rube Goldberg aparatus in the family’s living room. Aside from the annoying technical details involved (aliens poisoned by water walk around in the buff on a planet that’s 75% water?) it also provided a kind of simplistic moral to the story: God works in mysterious ways, which generally take the form of bizarre and unlikely coincidences which save your neck in the middle of a crisis.

    The Village – The twist here (the true era of the movie and the real nature of the creatures) wasn’t bad, but it didn’t seem to have much to do with the actual drama of the movie. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but for the fact the trailers really seemed to be selling this mystery as the climactic revelation of the movie. I wouldn’t mind Shyamalan wanting me to “think”, but based on the advertisements was expecting a thrilling twist.

  5. No… not yet – unfortunately. There’s just been too little time of late. We (Megan and I) are going to see Serenity this weekend. And I started listening to that American Gods book on tape that you lent me. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. It is a book on tape – and I have a 1:30 commute 4 days a week, and a 3 hour commute 1 day. I can do a whole lot of book listening in the car.

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