I’m afraid I’m going to start the column off on a bit of a down note. This will be my last installment of High Def Revue. I’ve had a great time writing for Mania.com and I’ve met many new cyber-friends while I’ve been here, but events in my life have conspired to make it impossible for me to continue penning reviews for the site. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments, both positive and negative, and would like to thank you all for taking the time to read my thoughts.
An impressive slate of HD DVD titles to arrive in 2007: At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the North American HD DVD Promotions Group held a press conference where they listed some of the estimated 300 HD DVD titles that will be hitting the shelves in 20007. Included on the list are the Matrix Trilogy, all of the Harry Potter movies, and fan favorite Blade Runner. TV series haven’t been forgotten either. Battlestar Galactica (the new one) as well as the original Star Trek series were mentioned. None of these have street dates yet, but it’s good to know that they are in the works.
An avalanche of new Blu-ray titles announced at the CES: Not to be out done, the Blu-ray camp is touting their releases for 2007 at this years CES. Included in that list are such films as both Pirates of the Caribbean films, Avengers 2, The Rob Zombie film House of 1000 Corpses, Requiem for a Dream, Pi, Hostel, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse. The Dune TV mini-series as well the TV show Dead Zone will also be making their way onto Blu-ray this coming year. Warner has also announced the Matrix films and the Harry Potter series will also be available on Blu-ray.
This week’s Spotlight: Brother’s Grimm on Blu-ray:
Terry Gilliam is one of the most interesting film directors working today. Even his detractors will admit that his films are visually unique and have a flavor all their own. Unfortunately, as often happens with true artists, Gilliam's films haven't met with the commercial success they deserve. In an apparent attempt to remedy that, Gilliam created a movie with a lot of box office potential: The Brother's Grimm. It seemed to have everything going for it: a high powered star, a script that was similar to an earlier hit, and a lot of special effects. The only problem is that the movie isn't very good. As often happens when setting out to craft a summer blockbuster, plot, characterization, pacing, and general storytelling ability are left by the wayside in favor of flash and dazzle. It's too bad that a director of Terry Gilliam's stature fell into that trap.
Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) have a nice little scam going. They send a pair of guys into a town and have them "haunt" an old barn or building. When the superstitious peasants start to panic the brothers ride into town and offer to "save" them from the evil scourge for a hefty price. This works fine until they become a little too famous. A French General (Jonathan Pryce) becomes aware of the con men and after apprehending the pair orders them to the German city of Marbaden where young girls have been disappearing. The general thinks it's another scam, and wants the brothers to expose it. When they arrive however, accompanied by Cavaldi (Peter Stormare), they discover that it's not a con, but a real haunted forest inhabited by an evil witch who has the curse of eternal life.
This movie is visually stunning and reveals an amazingly detailed and intricate world. Added to that there's also…well, umm. Not much. This is a case of style over substance taken to extremes. The movie itself is confusing, poorly paced, and features some atrocious acting. Though Damon and Ledger seem to have fun with their roles and do a credible job, everyone else seems to think that they are in a Monty Python film and that overacting is the word of the day. Pryce and Stormare are particularly bad with horrid accents and over-the-top performances that are hard to watch.
The usual Gilliam humor is missing from this film too. The only slightly interesting plot device is the way that many of the Grimm fairy tales are worked into the plot: a girl with a red cape and hood being captured as she leaves the forest, a boy selling a cow for magic beans, etc. The only problem is that this gets old fast. Viewers are soon rolling their eyes when an old hag knocks on a door trying to sell apples. Most of these inclusions had nothing to do with the story however and were apparently put in so the writers and director could say "look at how clever we are, here's another scene from a fairy tale!"
This film had a lot of potential but it never lives up to any of it. The story wasn't engaging, and neither were the characters. The plot wasn't as inventive and creative as I was expecting, and the acting was neither humorous nor good. When all is said and done, though there were some very nice looking scenes and the visual style is wonderful, that alone isn't enough to carry the film.
Upcoming High Definition Discs:
January 16, 2007
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
The Mummy Returns
January 23, 2007
Alien vs. Predator
Courage Under Fire
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Manchurian Candidate
Men of Honor
Saw II (Unrated)
We Were Soldiers
January 30, 2007
February 06, 2007
Failure to Launch
Running With Scissors
The Tailor of Panama
Failure to Launch
February 13, 2007
Planet of the Apes
Reign of Fire
The Usual Suspects