Terry Gilliam’s upcoming fantasy movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus premiered at Cannes yesterday. And the film, which sees the late Heath Ledger give his last role before his untimely death, has gotten a mixed reception, going by the first and early reviews of it.
We also have a minute-long clip of the movie that is a longer version of the Cannes festival preview video we reported on the other day. But before we get to that, here are some excerpts from the various reviews for Doctor Parnassus that have come out:
Especially considering the trauma and difficulties stemming from Heath Ledger’s death during production and the fact that Terry Gilliam hadn’t directed a good picture in more than a decade, the helmer has made a pretty good thing out of a very bad situation…
A lot of the stage business consists of pratfalls and chaotic behavior, which quickly become overbearing, and the plot mechanics are scarcely more engaging. Fortunately, the central conception is sturdy enough to bear Gilliam’s sporadic excesses, which in any case are better focused than is sometimes the case with him.
The Hollywood Reporter
The first big question about Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” involves how the filmmaker managed to complete the film when his star Heath Ledger died in the middle of shooting. The answer is with great imagination and skill.
The visual effects are colorful and entertaining without ever becoming a coherent force. The score by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna has the required flair and sweep… but it’s hard not to wonder how much better the film would have been with a complete performance by the charismatic, adventurous Ledger.
This is the purest expression of Gilliam’s distinctive sensibility in a long while… It is an incredibly rich stew of a film and an often wilfully eccentric proposition for a mainstream audience. Despite the attractions of a stellar cast, its appeal will be largely confined to loyal Gilliam fans and those seeking a last look at the legacy of the late Heath Ledger.
Parnassus is a visual treat but one that many will find lacking in coherence or self-discipline… To anyone not sympathetic to Gilliam’s flights of fantasy, Parnassus will reek of rambling self-indulgence but fans will welcome it as a return to what he does best.
With clumsy dialogue, poor plotting and some downright terrible performances, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a huge disappointment for any fan of Terry Gilliam’s work… [The] effects-laden sequences are definitely the highlights of the film, visually sumptuous feasts for the eyes that give Gilliam the opportunity to explore his own deranged imagination.
Heath Ledger takes a poignant final bow in Terry Gilliam’s loopy, sweet-natured but madly self-indulgent fantasia The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus… When Gilliam shoots off into his surreal wonderland, his film has a kind of helium-filled jollity and spectacle. The moments when Plummer’s face looms hugely out of the hallucinatory landscape are great: a reminder of the old Python magic. But the film’s convoluted curlicues are tiring, insisting too loudly on how “imaginative” everything is.
The LA Times
[Terry] Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” a work as exceptional and unusual as its title… A tale of good and evil battling for souls that’s made with Gilliam’s fantastic and fantastical visual imagination, Imaginarium is the director’s best, most entertaining film in years.
When I say “mixed” I don’t just mean that some of the reviews are positive while others are negative, I mean that even each review within themselves are mixed. The positive ones have their grievances with the movie, and the negative ones still have some positive light to shine. It appears that those that dig the fantastical aspect of the movie – that is, the showcasing of Gilliam’s imagination – are willing to forgive some of the stuff it may do wrong in other parts. And those who are less favorable to the fantastical, are positive to other aspects.
I guess you can’t please everybody…
Although this isn’t exactly the most well-reviewed movie of the year (at this point anyway, it may change), it’s still one of my most anticipated. Apart from the factor of witnessing Ledger in his last ever role, I can’t get enough of Gilliam’s filmmaking style – And Doctor Parnassus looks to be like Gilliam on crack…
On top of these early review excerpts, we also have that minute-long clip I mentioned above. As I said, it’s just an extension of the 16 second one that was in the Cannes festival video, but it’s more than worth checking out nonetheless:
Boy, that just looks fantastic – The set design, the costumes, the cinematography… all of it is great. And the quotable dialogue delivered brilliantly by Ledger (it is very suited to his acting style) is also a plus. Now, if they would just set a release date for this thing so I can buy my ticket now…
Are these early reviews for Doctor Parnassus what you expected them to be? What do you make of the new clip?
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is expected to be released sometime this year, but no official release date has been set as of yet.