Legendary fairytale scribes Jake and Will Grimm are two brothers who travel around the Napoleonic countryside vanquishing monsters and demons in exchange for quick money. But when the French authorities figure out their scheme, the con men are forced to contend with a real magical curse when they enter an enchanted forest where young maidens keep disappearing under mysterious circumstance. Many of their renowned fairytales including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel&Gretel are woven into the story as the Brothers Grimm are forced to confront all that their imaginations have brought to life.
For more about The Brothers Grimm and the The Brothers Grimm Blu-ray release, see the The Brothers Grimm Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on September 19, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Terry Gilliam is, frankly, one of my favorite filmmakers. I place his classic films Brazil, The Fisher King and 12 Monkeys amongst some of the finest cinematic works of art of the last 30 years. With that being said, I'm not particularly fond of some of his more recent films. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas left me a bit cold and I've felt, generally, that if Mr. Gilliam's heart isn't entirely invested in a particular project, we often see results that lack focus and seem muddled. Would The Brothers Grimm be one of these less focused efforts, or more in line with classic Gilliam?
The Brothers Grimm spins the classic yarn of Wil and Jacob Grimm and their traveling "ghostbusting" business. The film begins with Jacob (Heath Ledger) and Wil (Matt Damon) arriving in a small town to work their "magic" by exorcising the spirit of a witch. After some elaborate setup, it is soon revealed that the Grimm's spirit removal business is nothing but a scam. Without giving away too much of the plot, the brothers soon find themselves up against actual forces of the supernatural. The film incorporates various fairy tales into the plot, mining details from Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and just about every other fairy tale one could name.
Art direction is always key in a Terry Gilliam film
The Brothers Grimm is an occasionally fun but fatally flawed movie. At times it falls into slapstick comedy territory, while at other times its tone is deadly serious. Gilliam is a bit uneven here and the movie lacks a real sense of organic flow. I found Matt Damon to be particularly mis-cast as Wil. He frequently drops in and out of his pseudo-European accent and generally looks a little lost during the course of the film. Heath Ledger, on the other hand, is a bit more convincing and the bulk of the supporting cast is outstanding. Peter Stormare is particularly excellent - - but then again, when isn't he? Visually, the film is very rich. I was taken aback at some of the fantastic visuals and storybook scenes. Gilliam is usually at his peak when he able to work within a fantastical and whymsical visual setting. Unfortunately, I just didn't feel that the story and visuals had as much cohesion as I would have liked. The movie simply gets lost in its visual mastery and the plot suffers as a result. I'm going to recommend The Brothers Grimm based solely on the strength of the visuals and the strong work from the supporting cast. This is a beautiful movie visually. I just hope that like many Terry Gilliam films, repeated viewings will allow me to find more to connect with in the plot.
Given the dark and murky atmosphere of The Brothers Grimm, anything less than a superb transfer would have been a total mess. Fortunately, Disney has stepped up to the plate and offered The Brothers Grimm on Blu-ray with a nearly flawless 1080p transfer using the AVC compression codec. The print used is free of any dirt, scratches or dropouts. A film with the complex visual style of The Brothers Grimm really showcases the benefits of high definition. Shadow detail is superb with the smallest visual details perfectly presented in even the darkest of scenes. There is a terriffic sense of depth to the picture that really pops off the screen. Black levels are rock solid and color accuracy is nothing short of phenomenal. I didn't detect even the slightest bit of edge enhancement, mosquito noise or artifacts. There are tons of scenes in this film that could have really fallen to pieces given a poor transfer. Fortunately, The Brothers Grimm is perfectly rendered -- smooth, film-like and never distracting. Take for instance the many interior scenes in the film: I was particularly impressed with wall textures and fabrics. Just about every interior shot features some sort of textured stucco or plaster wall in the background. You can clearly make out every shadow and nuance of this texture. It's just really impressive stuff. Also pay particular attention to the costumes. I could clearly make out extremely fine fabric details and intricate design patterns. The Brothers Grimm is a visual feast on Blu-ray.
The Brothers Grimm is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound as well as uncompressed PCM 5.1. While the Dolby Digital track is very strong, the PCM track is out of this world. The soundstage was completely enveloping in PCM with crisp high frequency details and outstanding bass. It really is amazing how much more natural and open the uncompressed track feels. Surrounds were extremely active with scores of ambient effects and directional sound. There are many instances within the film where action shifts from the front to rear channels and vice versa. This seamless and enveloping surround track is utterly convincing. It took me all of about 20 minutes before I stopped marveling at the sound and simply found myself immersed in the experience. Outstanding.
The Brothers Grimm includes the standard fare of several deleted scenes and a commentary track with Terry Gilliam. None of this was particularly enticing save the Terry Gilliam commentary. He's always interesting to listen to and tells some pretty interesting stories about development of the story and the visual aspects of the film. As far as commentaries go, this one is pretty interesting and informative. The disc also starts up with the standard Blu-ray promotional trailer and the ever increasingly tedious anti-piracy trailer. Fortunately, I was able to skip through these by simply skipping ahead to the next chapter stop. All told, there's not much to this set, but what is here is fairly imformative.
While I didn't enjoy the The Brothers Grimm as much as I'd hoped, it is still an occasionally entertaining film with some genuinely inspired art direction and effects. This BlurRay presentation, however, is near-reference material. From a technical standpoint alone, this disc is highly recommended. Perhaps upon further viewing I'll find this film to be a more potent entry into the Terry Gilliam catalog.
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