Fairy tales come vividly to life in The Brothers Grimm
, a long-delayed fantasy/horror comedy that greatly benefits from the ingenuity of director Terry Gilliam. In lesser hands, the ambitious screenplay by prolific horror specialist Ehren Kruger (who wrote the American versions of The Ring
and The Ring 2
) might have turned into an erratic monster mash like Van Helsing
. But Gilliam's maverick sensibility makes the film more closely comparable to Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow
and Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves
, with the added benefit of impressive CGI effects and lavish (though cost-efficient) production design, making the most of a challenging $75 million budget.
Kruger's clever conceit is to turn "folklore collectors" Wilhem and Jacob Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, respectively) into 19th-century con artists who perform bogus exorcisms of "evil enchantments" while travelling from village to village in French-occupied Germany. The two soon find themselves ensnared in a genuinely supernatural crisis involving the curse of the Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) and such fantastical marvels as the Big Bad Wolf, the Gingerbread Man, and a host of other truly enchanted (and not altogether friendly) flora and fauna.
It's kind of a mess, switching from over-the-top humour (mostly from Peter Stormare as a manic villain) to serious fantasy involving the beautiful Angelika (Lena Headey), who proves to be the Grimm Brothers' most reliable ally. And like many of Gilliam's films, Grimm suffered from production delays (during which Gilliam filmed Tideland), distributor fallout, and several changes in its theatrical release date, but none of these issues prevent the film from being a welcomed addition to Gilliam's remarkable list of credits.--Jeff Shannon
Terry Gilliam's adventure starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. Will (Damon) and Jake (Ledger) Grimm dazzle small towns with their imaginative folklore and elaborate illusions, but when the brothers journey into a real enchanted forest to help a village rid itself of an evil witch, they encounter many of the fantastic characters and thrilling situations found in their beloved fairy tales.
Director Terry Gilliam, who brought his magical storytelling talents to such films as Time Bandits
and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
, sets his sights on the Brothers Grimm, turning their life into a playfully grim fairy tale of its own. Set in early 18th Century French-occupied Germany, The Brothers Grimm
stars Matt Damon as Will Grimm and Heath Ledger as Jake Grimm, siblings who travel the countryside as snake-oil salesmen, convincing unsuspecting towns that they are haunted and agreeing to get rid of the demons for a price. In the meantime, they set their tales down in writing, creating a wealth of oddball, offbeat, and frightening characters. But after they are caught by General Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce) and his sidekick, Cavaldi (Peter Stormare), they are sent to the tiny village of Marbaden to solve the mysterious disappearance of a number of young girls, placing them in the middle of a fantasy world unlike any they'd ever invented. They enlist the help of a peasant woman, Angelika (Lena Headey), and they set off for the evil forest to save the lives of the girls and themselves. Gilliam has once again built a unique, entertaining land where anything can happen, and he throws in references to several Grimm tales along the way, including Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and the Frog Prince. The movie also features Mackenzie Crook and Richard Ridings as the Grimms' cohorts, Monica Bellucci as the Mirror Queen, and Julian Bleach and Bruce McEwan as two of Cavaldi's henchmen.