Despite of its misfortune due to the unfortunate death of its leading man, the film was, for me, holds surprisingly well. Sure, some of the early parts were a bit dragging but I think that is more because of the aforementioned incident, thus netting less materials for Terry Gilliam to work with. Once the film caught with its latter half, the film grows, with exceptional efforts by Jhonny Depp, and Jude Law, and to some extent, Colin Farrell in partaking the role left by the venerable late Heath Ledger.
This film is another take on dealing with the Devil goes sour. Dr.Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) made a bet with the Devil, Mr.Nick (Tom Waits) that whoever gets five souls first, had a claim for Dr.Parnassus’ own daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole). Dr.Parnassus was in part of and probably the owner of a traveling theater company. He employs a mirror in which people was able to get through and take a peek on Dr.Parnassus’ “imaginarium.” Here, the person who enters it gets a choice, either taking the offer from Mr.Nick and scored one for the devil, or taking the offer from Dr.Parnassus and scored one for the old man.
There’s no denying in the fact that the film felt a bit incomplete. Although to be fair, the way the film rewritten and edited to accommodate the untimely death of Heath Ledger, was sufficient enough that in case there’s someone in the audience who was yet unaware of the said news (gasp), she wouldn’t notice the gap. The way the film treats the sudden change of the character played by Heath Ledger was seamless enough. I’d say it’s a great job by Terry Gilliam to circumvent the misfortune he was having.
The ‘imaginarium’ part which occupies most of the latter half of the film was pleasant and superior to its first half. I was excited and there’s a sense of urgency emanating from the screen whenever the off-beat CGI and colors were dancing in the world behind the mirror. This is perhaps atypical Gilliam films to which I’m not entirely familiar and won’t consider myself as a fan. Choosing the simple world to describe it was, perhaps, a frantic carnival. That’s what I felt during the latter half and it was a good thing, really. However, the first half of the film was a bit overlong and on some events I felt no urgency from the pace which I’m quite sure, had Gilliam had more materials with Heath Ledger, it would be left on the cutting floor.
Jhonny Depp and Jude Law gave their best on channeling their respective antics in place of Ledger in the world beyond the mirror. I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown a bit weary with Depp’s swagger that almost all the time reminds me of his role as a certain captain. In that respect, Jude Law’s really shines on his scene beyond the mirror. However, Colin Farrell was fell a bit short. Well, I’d say he just really doesn’t cut it to be as crazy as the script requires him to be. On the other side of the mirror, Christopher Plummer is amazing. Somebody should give him a more challenging role in which he could really really shines. And Lily Cole, the heart shaped face lady, all I could say of her was, mmhh mmhh, I’m taking a note on her future roles, that’s for sure.
My rating: *** / **** Going through the first half might prove a challenge, but the latter half was, for me, making up a lot of ground for it. Surprisingly solid film, considering that its leading man was left perished in the middle of filming.