Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Movie Review - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Hey all,

I love seeing movies and you'll often find me going once or twice a week. I'll see just about any genre, except the blood and gore--did that in my teenage days.

I was looking forward to seeing Imaginarium. I do like Heath Ledger and since he died while making this movie, I was very curious as to how they were going to make it work. I knew little about the plot, just it had something to do with a traveling circus and a deal with the devil.

As the movie release date approached, I was surprised that I didn't see any previews or trailers on this show. Heath Ledger's last mov
ie? Star power like Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell? Why wasn't the hype screaming?

Perhaps I just missed all the promos. Maybe I switched the channel when it came on. But if the black out on advertising was any indication, I was a little worried about what I'd be seeing when the lights went out.

The truth is, as I sat in the theatre watching the movie, I felt like I was back in high school
watching Clockwork Orange. The movie is surreal, almost dream-like and for me, it was difficult to follow at first. The first time I'd watched Clockwork Orange, I was high. I wondered if it would have helped being high watching Imaginarium. But before I go any further, here's a quick blurb from the studio.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a travelling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr Nick, in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr Nick. Valentina is now rapidly approaching this 'coming of age' milestone and Dr Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate. Mr Nick arrives to collect but, always keen to make a bet, renegotiates the wager. Now the winner of Valentina will be determined by whoever seduces the first five souls. Enlisting a series of wild, comical and compelling characters in his journey, Dr Parnassus promises his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win. In this captivating, explosive and wonderfully imaginative race against time, Dr Parnassus must fight to save his daughter in a never-ending landscape of surreal obstacles - and undo the mistakes of his past once and for all...

Well, it sounds good, right? But a lot of what is in the blurb must have been written before Heath died because it sure wasn't what I saw in the movie. I spent more time trying to understand what was happening than being able to enjoy the movie. In fact there was a couple of issues I had that really bothered me.

First and foremost, Valentina, the girl who is supposed to be sixteen (and looks a lot older) spends the movie flirting, chasing and final
ly having sex with a much older man. So the whole creepy pedophile thing didn't work for me. (Although seeing Colin Farrell with his shirt half off was kind of yummy.)

And, *SPOILER ALERT* another thing that bugged me was having the hero not so heroic at the end. Why have him in the movie in the first place? He was somewhat useful in helping with the carnival, but overall, he could have been removed from the movie and not been missed all that much.

But, the problem I had most with the movie was the uneven plot line. I honestly have no idea why the movie existed. While I know that some may have enjoyed the surrealness of the story
, for me it was just too disjointed. I couldn't follow what was happening in a lot of parts. I understood the deal with the devil part, and I got the fact Dr. Parnassus was trying to fix what he'd done, but I don't think they showed us clearly how he was trying to make things better and what Heath had to do with anything.

All in all, if you are a Heath Ledger fan, I think you should see this movie if for nothing else than
to say goodbye. I can't say it's a great movie, it's too strange and disjointed to be that and those issues I mentioned made me too uncomfortable with the movie overall to get excited about the story.

I will say the parts where the people go into the Imaginarium were quite well done. I may not have understood what the hell was going on, but the computer graphics, sets and the way it was presented kept the movie interesting enough that I didn't walk out.

At the end, no one clapped and most people all said the same thing. And interesting movie but weird. They had good things to say about Heath and his stand ins, but the movie overall wasn't received so well.

Could I recommend it? Yeah. It's Heath's last one. But honestly, I'd wait until it came out on video. It's worth viewing, but not spending my hard earned cash on. JMHO. My vote? 3 out of 5 dreams!!!

Hugs and see ya tomorrow,


Phylis said...

I think I will wait untill it comes out in dvd. It sounds like I would be lost if I tried to watch it. lol

Maria said...

I avoid all movies that Jude Law is in because in the end, I always hate them. I figured that this movie would not be too good because the studio didn't hype it or even remind people that it was coming out!

CJ England said...


I know I was lost about 10 minutes in. You know those films they start in the middle? That's how this one was.


CJ England said...


I wasn't fond of Jude until I saw him in Sherlock Holmes. It's the only one I've ever liked him in. He was barely in this one and clueless where he was in it. LOL


Julie Robinson said...

I'd rather spend my money on a good book!

CJ England said...


Good for you. Me too! LOL