A traveling theater company gives its audience much more than they were expecting.
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At The Movies
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (PG) * *
Through the Looking Glass!
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Attach the name Terry Gilliam to any project and there’s no telling what you’ll come up with. Gilliam returns to oddball entertainment with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a bit of a muddled mess from E1 Films now trying to make its mark at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking) and some other theatres shortly in B.C.
When you lose an actor during filming it’s often hard to complete a project. Producers of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus were obviously in a state of shock with the passing of Heath Ledger, as was the world at large. In order to salvage the project three actors stood in Heath’s place. Results of this effort are a mishmash made all the more complicated by the very nature and essence of this movie.
Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) is known far and wide for his imagination and creative zest. Brave new worlds are indeed broached with the long title to this meandering film. Plot-wise, this tale revolves around a band of circus performers who roam the British countryside in search of clientele. Customers who attend this unconventional circus of freaks are often ats odd as the performers which leads to a lot of testiness.
Led by the good doctor, an aging man well played by bearded wonder Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), we do get our fair share of odd ball characters who populate this unique creative force. Among the members of this merry troupe is the hand-picked Tony, brought to life in fine form by Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) and a series of “imaginative” Tonies acted out by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), Colin Farrell (Miami Vice) and Jude Law (Alfie). Of the three versions of Tony after Heath Law gets the most time to strut his stuff.
Other members of this entourage include Percy, a devilish dwarf well-portrayed by the always edgy Verne Troyer (Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me) who adds some sly one-liners and relative newcomer Lily Cole (Rage) who plays a sexy vixen in this cast of crazies.
Dark themes ooze forth as visitors and viewers alike enter the magical world that Doctor Parnassus has created. Dream-like sequences appear and evaporate with it being hard to track all the comings and goings in this slice of far-fetched settings that leave you at times confounded. Too long at 118 minutes this movie comes across as being tedious, too hard to comprehend, and without too much of a solid or good foundation. Scenes done in Vancouver, such as at the downtown library, offer little to the look of the film that aims to create something different and fresh.
Too bad Heath Ledger’s last movie is such a bland exercise and not that effective a way to remember one of filmdom’s brightest lights.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviessite.com