>> The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Title: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Starring: Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Heath Ledger, Verne Troyer, Andrew Garfield, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Tom Waits

Director: Terry Gilliam

Studio: Lionsgate

Runtime: 122 min

In Theatres: December 25, 2009

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Rating: 3.80 (out of 4.00)

Grade: A-

Official Site

Written and directed by Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil), "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is a whimsical journey through the mind of Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) as he struggles to save his daughter's (Lily Cole) soul after a lost bet with the devil (Tom Waits). The crew of his moving Imaginarium consists of different characters including his daughter Victoria (Lily Cole), the amusing Percy (Verne Troyer), the dapper Anton (Andrew Garfield), and of course the enigmatic Tony (played by Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell).

There's some interesting background information to this movie, as it is considered to be Heath Ledger's last project before he passed away. Unfortunately, not all of Ledger's scenes were filmed at the time, but rather than start over with all of those scenes, Gilliam opted to fill those scenes with different actors (Depp, Law, and Farrell), which only fits due to the mysterious nature of the film itself. In addition, all three actors agreed to have their entire salaries for the movie given to Ledger's daughter, who had not been written into his will at the time of his death.

I actually hadn't heard much of this movie outside of hearing that "The Dark Knight" wasn't Heath Ledger's last film. I decided to go into this movie without any prior knowledge, including not even seeing the trailer for the film. Having done this, it took a little bit into the film to really fully understand what was exactly going on, as the movie uses a bit of stream of consciousness in its storytelling. That fact and the general jumpiness of the plot may have a more unfocused viewer puzzled as to what exactly is going on.

Throw that in with the largely unexplained switching of actors in a pretty large role and the movie becomes one that you've got to pay attention to to really fully enjoy it. Once your suspension of disbelief is fully intact, the story becomes a rather enjoyable journey as Dr. Parnassus and Mr. Nick have a race to 5 souls. Each of the characters is a fun addition to the utter mayhem that ensues (though I wish Verne Troyer had been given more to work with for Percy), even if Anton is a bit pouty for my liking. The artistic style of the film is fantastic and really creates a beautiful backdrop to an already visually interesting movie. Of course with the unique story written by Gilliam, you end up with a not-so-predictable plot that, while it doesn't have you on the edge of your seats, does provide some impetus to sit through the decently long fantasy.

Overall, I'm having trouble deciding whether I did actually enjoy the movie. I do think it's a good movie and definitely worth watching, if not just for the visual spectacle, however as far as enjoyment goes I think it really varies based on the viewer. Even as I was leaving the movie, I was left wondering "What exactly did I just watch?". In any case, Imaginarium opens in NY and LA on Christmas day and has a wide release January 8. 


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