The Brothers Grimm review by The Grim Ringler

It’s always a worrisome venture when a director known for a particularly unique vision of the world via cinema decides it’s time to pay the Hollywood whore and to work in the system. It’s worrisome becomes more times than not this is code for a director making a film that almost anyone could have directed since it’s not a story that needs the things the director has shown a talent for. This is the case of Brothers Grimm, a movie that is obviously director Terry Gilliam’s studio friendly film, and one that a lot of people are saying looks too similar to Van Helsing for comfort. Let me assure you, this is, despite appearances, a Gilliam film, though it’s just one that added a dash of Tim Burton to the mix.

Two brothers, one a firm believer in science and the other a believer in the unknown, and both are conmen during a time when France held the leash of Germany. The brothers, with the assistance of two assistants, travel the countryside as wizards of a sort with an uncanny ability to ferret out and dispel evils of an unnatural variety. Which is to say that these men have been learning about the devils, demons, monsters and witches that are purported to haunt each community, writing the tales down as they go (get it, Brothers Grimm?) and, upon entering a particular town, they get themselves hired on to destroy the evil, then CREATE an evil to conquer based on the tales of the town. It’s a rather ingenious, and very sneaky, way to make a living, but it works. Works that it is until they are caught by a French general and are placed in the employ of him, lest they lose their heads to the guillotine. Their job is to go to a small German town that has had several young girls disappear in the most frightful of manners. And all of the girls seem to have disappeared in or around the great, dark woods that surround the area. What the brothers, accompanied by a sadistic Italian who has taken employment with the French, is that, unlike what they and the general had thought, there is no conspirator in the woods kidnapping the children, but a real, genuine evil that needs the innocent young girls in order to fulfill a spell of resurrection. And so, these two brothers, neither a fighter, and one not even a believer in things of a supernatural sort, must now really fight the sort of monster they have claimed to be experts in vanquishing, only this time, if they fail, there truly is an evil that will gain terrible powers. And to kill this particular evil, it might cost them more than they are willing to pay.

While not one of his best films, this was a very strong offering from director Gilliam. He takes material that has been done a few times by now – Sleepy Hollow, Mummy, Van Helsing, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, yet puts his own stamp on it. You can see his stamp on the realistic approach to the backgrounds – this is not a glamorized vision of the past and of the eighteenth century. Oh no, this is a realistic depiction of how dirty and nasty that era could be at its worst. The casting is fantastic, from the leads, who jell and mesh well as brothers, to the secondary characters who give the film the humor. The film focuses on the brothers and their plight with the French and moves out from there, keeping things centered so that the special effects aspect of the film doesn’t overpower the story. And more than anything is that the film is fun. It is a very twisted take on the summer action film, but it still has that sense of fun to it. Though, this being Terry Gilliam there is still a lot of brutality that happens.

The two biggest issues in the film are that some of the special effects don’t come off as well as they should have and tend to look dated and awkward in comparison to some of the effects in similar films. THOUGH, keep in mind, that a lot of the effects in Brothers Grimm are quite eerie and effective, and made me wish that dammit, this was a straight up horror film. Rats! The other big issue here is that, as fun as the film is, there are moments where the script stumbles and it shows. It’s a very good film, but one that doesn’t quite resonate.

If this is Gilliam’s popcorn movie, then he’s nailed it. It is well made, well acted, and quite fun, and well worth a viewing. I might wait for a second run theater or video, but it’s worth seeing.


7 out of 10 Jackasses
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