DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Darkmatters Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (12a)

Dir. Terry Gilliam

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

ONE WORD SUMMATION: Imaginariaussus

Dare you step in the crazed ‘Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ – if so you’ll witness wonders from the deepest Monty Python addled recesses of fantasy. Be careful though, don’t come expecting a plot that you can grasp easily or for that matter a sequel to Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium.

This is the sublimely fantastical tale of the ancient Dr Parnassus (Christopher ‘voice of the old guy in UP’ Plummer) who is the main feature of a strange travelling show or ‘imaginarium’ if you will. This creaking old school fairground attraction includes a mirror which allows people to pass into the mind of the Doctor and find possible redemption. Assisted by an oddball crew of the vertically challenged Percy (Verne ‘Mini Me from Austen Powers’ Troyer) and whimsical helper Anton (Andrew Garfield) who has the hots for the Doctor’s 15 year old daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). All the cast deliver the goods and hold their own even when the film is gate crashed by some serious Hollywood heavyweights – see below. Cole is particularly good, proving that she’s not just a pretty face.

It seems that Parnassus has entered into a terrible deal with the Devil Himself (an effectively satanic Tom Waits), which sees the Doctor gaining immortality but at the cost of having to hand over his daughter to Beelzebub on her 16th birthday.

"Lily Cole... yummy!"

With three days to go before Valentina’s fateful birthday, the crew find a possible saviour in the handsome shape of Tony (Heath ‘Dark Knight’ Ledger). This will unfortunately be remembered for the film that Heath Ledger died whilst filming and director Gilliam drafts in Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to each play the part of ‘Tony’ in various freaky fantasy sequences that work really well. I doubt that many directors could have salvaged the film in quite such an imaginative way.

The visuals of both the grimy modern day London and the garish outlands of the Doctor’s imagination are realised with eye-popping style. My only complaint was that the tone is very uneven at times veering from gallows humour to twee.

So, if you’re a fan of Gilliam’s epic storytelling and mind boggling imaginative films such as Brazil or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, then you’ll be right at home here. Sure the plotting is ramshackle and sometimes it is all in danger of disappearing up its own ‘Parnassus’ – but there are still wondrously improbable joys to behold here for those willing to take the head-trip.

Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - freak um love story fantasy)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 7 (flights of fantasy a go go)

Style 8 (amazing mind altering stuff)

Babes 7 (Lily Cole is hot)

Comedy 7 (some funny moments)

Horror 6 (Not dark enough really)

Spiritual Enlightenment 8 (redemption)


Sweetlikehoney said...

The voice from the old guy in UP was from Edward Asner (Lou Grant in the very old days). Christopher Plummer (The Thorne Birds - yes, I'm not twenty anymore: sigh) did the adventurer Charles Muntz (although he was "old" too in UP).

Anyway, thanx for the review. It certainly is a movie to have seen I guess.

Clenbuterol said...

If anybody could shoot imaginarium of every person...