|'a gigantic mess, littered with good ideas, occasionally interesting visuals and bit of style but equally mainly populated by muddled aims, poor direction and a huge lack of tonal certainty'|
In the print version of Moneyball, a wise gentleman (possibly Billy Beane, but my memory fails me now) asks a baseball scout espousing the benefits of a hitter with a low average: 'if he's such a good hitter, why doesn't he hit?'
The same sort of question, in recent years at least, has often jumped to my mind when considering Terry Gilliam. If Gilliam is such a good director, as several claim, why is he really struggling to make a good film?
Like fellow recent effort The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, The Brothers Grimm is a gigantic mess, littered with good ideas, occasionally interesting visuals and bit of style but equally mainly populated by muddled aims, poor direction and a huge lack of tonal certainty. As often as it looks lovely, it looks grotty and unfinished and just when it seems to be heading in a sound direction, a new undercurrent pulls it away again, such is the work of Gilliam to those, like me, who just can't quite attune to his style.
Most noticeably, this is a film that cannot decide whether it wants to be a daring mish-mash of different genre styles - Horror, Fantasy, something 'Dark' - or semi-friendly children's adventure. The UK 12A rating suggests the latter, and that Gilliam got it right, but too often this looked to me out of control, wandering down a path uninteresting to younger viewers.
The performances too, pivot on dimes to opposing directions. Heath Ledger is sure and certain one minute, a geeky mute the next. Peter Stormare provides the answer to where exactly Sacha Baron Cohen's Les Miserables performance came from. Jonathan Pryce provides the French with an excuse to hate the English even more potent than Cohen. Game Of Thrones' Lena Heady again comes face to face with a tall tower, though her incestuous brother is this time absent.
Eventually the low level production values - starting with terrible CGI and graduating to inexcusably bad red lighting, come the end - undermine any chance this had to be acceptable. It's very muddled at the least and some good work in creating the world is undermined by the look and directorial mastery, or otherwise, of the story.
The Brothers Grimm was playing on Lovefilm Instant.