Friday, January 15, 2010



I was really looking forward to finally seeing Heath Ledger's last movie (no, not The Dark Knight). He did not finish filming the movie before his untimely death, so in stepped the acting talent of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell to fill his role in the rest of his scenes. This film is mostly set inside the mind of Dr. Parnassus. There is a magical way for people to enter the imagination of Dr. Parnassus, or the Imaginarium as it is called. Each time a person is within the imagination of the doctor, their own desires or wildest dreams can come true. So each time Ledger's character Tony is in the Imaginarium with a new person, they perceive him differently according to their own desire. That is how the different actors fit into Ledger's role and worked seamlessly into the project.

I honestly am not going to try and describe the plot more than I already tried to above. This review would be pages and pages long. If you actually are interested in the plot, just see the movie.

This film contains very convincing performances from the whole cast that features Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer, and the gorgeous Lily Cole. While I included Verne Troyer in that last sentence which described his acting as convincing, that is far from the truth. There is a reason he never really spoke words in the Austin Powers movies and it is because he is a joke of an actor. He probably had 2 lines the whole movie that I didn't absolutely cringe at his horrid delivery. He has a pretty big role in this film, and it really hurt the overall quality of the picture with him featured so often. Good luck finding roles besides Mini-Me Verne Troyer, because acting is not your thing. Try basketball maybe?

Christopher Plummer was very good as the aging wager loving Dr. Parnassus. He has always shined in his performances in movies, and this project is no different. Tom Waits as the antagonist or the Devil himself was great at times and mediocre at others. He had some great dialogue that made me love his character and then plenty of other moments that left me thinking, "That's the Devil?" Lastly I want to give credit to the unknown Lily Cole. She is so pleasing to look at (I love red heads!) and really sold her role as Dr. Parnassus's neglected daughter.

The imagery in this film was really the best part. It was insane to see inside all these different character's imaginations and their deepest desires. The Imaginarium is a strange mix of fake and reality, actual people and computer generated scenery. It was a trip to see the array of colors and many psychedelic pieces within the imagination. Any Tim Burton fan would appreciate what Director/Writer Terry Gilliam put on display in this movie. 

Overall, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is a muddled mess of images confounding the real heart of the tale, the character's stories. While I understood most of what was going on (vaguely at times) I didn't really even care for what I was seeing. The characters take a back seat to the kaleidoscope of unreal imagery and bewildering action within the imagination. The script describes the core of the story and what the purpose of the Imaginarium is, but in the end I just didn't really care. It is apparent the writers had to scramble to rewrite the script when Ledger died.

The most interesting features in the film were the hallucinogenic images and seeing Heath Ledger on screen one more time. Not a recipe for any real success. If you love Heath Ledger or Tim Burton-esque like stories and storytelling, give it a chance in the theaters. Otherwise I strongly recommend you wait for the DVD rental; you will feel less cheated by paying the lower price.


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