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:: The Brothers Grimm

The Brothers Grimm is not a comedy, nor is it a drama. It may seek to be some kind of satire or cartoon like ‘larger than life’ film yet a viewer would have no idea what kind of movie it is. (no, it’s definitely not an arthouse type.) Evidentially, there must have been miscommunications between screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Reindeer Games, The Ring), radical genius director Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil) and its two talented characters, Matt Damon and Heath Ledger.

It seems like it’s going to be a serious, possibly even chilling movie at the start. Yet, this is quickly interrupted by the realisation that the film might be trying to achieve this, but needless bland humour, larger than life effects and a general weird direction discredits this.

It has moments where Gilliam’s brilliance comes out. These are short doses with creative special effects that are gleaming in their own right but do not fit in with the messy and boring script. Some characters are more enchanting than others. The frozen mirror queen (Monica Bellucci) is an enchantingly beautiful and vain character who gives the film some much-needed climax, but departs too quickly. Matt Damon is odd playing the role of the arrogant silver-tongued Willhelm Grimm brother, and he quickly loses his British (though the Grimm brothers were German) accent. Heath Ledger surprisingly suits his role as the meek and bookish Jacob Grimm, showing versatility past his standard cocky or confident character set.

The secondary characters are overly lavish and colourful. There are ridiculous French accents and Napoleonic generals (Jonathon Pryce) who only seem to sniff on about good wine and quiche. Italian henchman Cavaldi’s (Peter Stormare) accent is laughable, yet absurdly bad because the movie seems to want to establish a dark, half serious mood. This is characteristic of Gilliam’s work, director of Monty Python in the 1970s, yet it does not fit in with the intention of the movie, a half clouded intention at that.

Roughly, the plot is about the Grimm brothers who travel from town to town telling fairy tales and making bogus monster exorcisms until one day they encounter an enchanted forest that is stealing the blood of young girls for a 500 year old corrupt sleeping beauty queen. There are some original Grimm stories like Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Hansel and Gretal interspersed throughout the film, yet the focus is on the brothers, not their works.

The best thing about the movie is the rich visual treats. This is where the film really excelled in, and the backdrop of ye olde Europe, shot in stunning Prague, is picturesque. There are the unexpected, random special effects that appear, go off on a tangent and then disappear. Highlights of these include the ball of slime that materialises into an evil ‘gingerbread’ man, and countless black crows that peck eyes off, in one case, giving the “googly” eyes to the ball of slime aka gingerbread man.

The Brothers Grimm reminds viewers that a good plot is quintessential to a good movie. Unfortunately, this film substitutes a coherent plot for some startlingly good special effects and good looking leading actors and actresses. On the plus side, the weak attempts at being “grimm” will probably not frighten your average eight year old.