6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Big Imagination, Small Budget,
This review is from: Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Just after Heath Ledger's untimely death many people mistakenly believed that his Oscar winning performance as The Joker in `The Dark Knight' was to be his last. However, he had filmed half of the latest film by Terry Gilliam in the form of `The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'. As homage to the actor, Gilliam decided to complete the film and use three well known actors in the form of Law, Farrell and Depp to replace Ledger in key dream sequences. Is the film a worthy end to a talented actor's career? Unfortunately; not really.
The ideas behind `Dr P.' are pure Gilliam and hark back to the days of `Brazil' and `Baron Munchausen'. Dr P is a man who can allow people to step into his mind and he is in a timeless battle against the devil for people's souls. The dreamlike sequences allow Gilliam the freedom to use CGI to recreate similar sequences as seen in his Python animation work. However, rather than being the quaint hand drawn and cut out work of yore, it is actually pretty ugly and cheap CGI and has less impact than some of the work he did more than 30 years ago. As a filmmaker Gilliam has been sidelined and his budgets cannot match his imagination, in the case of `Dr P' this is almost enough to ruin the film. The BluRay does not aid the special effects as it enhances some of the best sequences, but also highlights the worst.
Despite some so-so visuals the ideas are still great, but they too must cope with an odd cast. Some performances are outstanding; Tom Waits as the devil and a surprisingly good turn from Verne Troyer. However, Lily Cole is beautiful to look at, but no actress and Andrew Garfield is a good actor, but a little strange here. The weird tone continues with Ledger himself with his Londoner cum Australian character who you never get to fully understand what his character's motives are. This is probably down to Gilliam having to edit around his lead actor not being there any more. In the end the film is a real mishmash of ideas that fail as often as succeed. As a fan of the director I still enjoyed the film, but realise that it is no masterpiece.