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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

The Brothers Grimm indeed

I went to see The Brothers Grimm this afternoon with my dad. Actually, I think this is one of the few occasions where I've seen a movie on its opening day. The first thing that attracted me to this movie was its director, Terry Gilliam. I'm a fan of Monty Python (Britain's given us a lot of comedy, eh) and was interested in a film directed by him. Needless to say, it was a mixture of fulfillment and disappointment.

Spoiler Warning

The special effects were quite good. I wasn't impressed, as they were nothing innovative, but they were also not cheesy, save for one effect. At the end of the movie, the evil queen is destroyed by shattering her magic mirror. This has the effect of destroying her tower as well as herself. Just as the mirror shattered, so she shatters into several thousand glass fragments. Watching Monica Bellucci's face split like that was very weird and definitely cheesy.

As my dad remarked, Heath Ledger looked unbelievably different. Hair died black and cut short for the part of Jakob Grimm, I didn't even recognize him. He played the part pretty well. Both Brothers Grimm worked nicely together, and I think they were the main source of humour in the film.

Speaking of which, the movie could have used more humour. I expected more humour from a Gilliam film. The movie wasn't entirely serious and devoid of humour, but I just thought that there would be more of it. As it was, there were the usual jokes about the dysfunctional conflicts between brothers, the love triangle, and fun with French and Italian accents. Oooh, and computer-generated fairy tale creatures make for good humour opportunities too, although I think they didn't cash in on as many of those as they could have.

My dad mentioned that it felt like parts of the movie were edited out that would have made it easier to understand. I agree that the scene cuts were very rough, time seemed to pass at irregular intervals. For example, one minute they were being tortured at the hands of the French occupiers, the next they were riding back to the village. Obviously I don't want to see their whole (doubtlessly long and boring) ride, but the way in which the transition was performed made me think that I missed something there. Similarly, several other characters could have had better and more lengthy introductions.

The storyline was interesting enough but not captivating. Basically, the Brothers Grimm are con artists of their time. With the help of two flunkies, they stage mystical creatures for them to exorcise, thereby saving the day and making some money. Will (Matt Damon) is clearly grounded in the world, whereas Jakob (Heath Ledger) is a dreamer and scholar who has been documenting the fairy tales they hear in order to write it in a book. Jakob also has the added burden of guilt: when they were younger, their sister suffered from an illness and Jakob had been sent to sell the cow for money that could be used to purchase medicine. Instead, Jakob sold the cow for magic beans (sound familiar?).

After being apprehended by the French for fraud and encouraging superstition and the like, the two are threatened with death. In actuality, it's a transparent scheme intended to use the Brothers Grimm to solve a "thorn in the foot" of the French general, regarding the disappearance of ten girls from a German village. The general is convinced it is the work of con artists like the Grimms, who are tasked to unveil the workings of the artist to the village and set everything right. Easier said than done.

In their adventures, they come across the love interest, Angelika (Lena Headey). Jakob falls for Angelika, although she kisses both at the end of the movie, leaving the matter of whom she loves unresolved (smell of a sequel?).

The girls are being captured and placed in crypts around a tower where a queen lives. The queen tortured the ancestors of the villagers for their spells, one of which was a spell for eternal life—but not eternal youth. To restore her youth, she has enslaved Angelika's father to capture twelve girls and perform a spell during the blood moon (a lunar eclipse). The spell would doubtless cost the girls their lives as they knew it in return for restoring the queen's beauty.

So Jakob and Will come to the rescue. Jakob confronts his demons by mortally wounding Will during their confrontation with the queen, an action that is crucial to their bid for winning against her magic. They bring down the tower down and rescue Angelika, who had been captured as the twelfth victim of the spell. The movie ends with much dancing and celebration.

H2G2 comes out on DVD on September 13 (apparently they're giving away free towels!) and after that I look forward to the September release of Serenity the feature film based on Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel)'s short lived series Firefly. The trailer looks awesome and I'm hoping the movie is equally impressive.