Went with Caleb and Jonas to check out Terry Gilliam's new film, The Brothers Grimm. As expected, the art direction and production design is breathtaking. Gilliam's flair for recreating the Napoleonic era is always worth watching.
The performances by Matt Damon ("Matt Damon!") and Heath Ledger (The Patriot, The Order) are adequate, but mostly uninspired. Ledger is definitely the more interesting to watch of the two. The real standout is Lena Headey as Angelika - subdued, not wacky, and very genuine (and not hard on the eyes, even covered in mud). Peter Stormare (Minority Report) is mostly obnoxious as the Italian torturer whose heartfelt alliances seem to switch arbitrarily, and Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies) is simply regurgitating every villain he's ever played - it's almost as if his character from Gilliam's Baron Munchausen switched sides and got promoted. His douchebaggery is legendary and it shows.
Of course Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Brotherhood of the Wolf) is gorgeous, but does little... except look gorgeous. Richard Ridings (Erik the Viking) and Mackenzie Crook (The Office) are fun to watch as comic relief and never cross the line into obnoxiousness. Thank God. We get enough of that from the villains.
What the film mostly lacks is heart, and I place the blame for that squarely with a weak script. Aside from that, the film is watchable, even enjoyable in parts. I really wanted to like it, and I guess I didn't feel cheated - it is after all the setting of our upcoming Deep7 RPG, Grimmworld. The story actually does run somewhat like an adventure game session, with stupid asides and arbitrary motivations. But it is missing some really key points like consistency and coherency. The mood is all over the place, and anachronisms are everywhere in the dialogue.
The parts that resemble an old Vincent Price witch hunter film are very enjoyable - the weird tech, the costumes, the sets. The first sequence with the witch battle is quite good! And there are nuggets of coolness throughout. It's nowhere near as bad as Van Helsing, but it's not as good as Baron Munchausen or Time Bandits either. Stick to a matinee if you can. I will probably get it on DVD to join Sleepy Hollow and Brotherhood of the Wolf in my Grimmworld collection.