The Brothers Grimm DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

An entertaining tale with two winning performances by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
An entertaining tale with two winning performances by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger.
THE BAD
Overall, I honestly have no complaints about this DVD.
THE FEATURE
As I sat watching The Brothers Grimm I was beside myself. I was not in this state because what I was watching on screen was not agreeing with me, but more because I kept waiting for the movie to get bad and it never did. As I am big fan of Matt Damon, I usually trust that the choices he makes as an actor are going to be good ones. Made for $80 million and grossing only $40 domestically, I couldn't help but wonder what went wrong with this movie? Afterall, Terry Gilliam really seemed to be in his niche and at first I thought that maybe boardroom battles with the Dimension execs, may have ultimately done this film in. Making over $100 million worldwide, I think it's safe to assume that this movie eventually found it's audience. Although, I still couldn't stop asking myself all throughout the movie, why didn't more people go for this?

If you have been following my reviews then you know I don't usually stand up for Fantasy films. I like my moviegoing fare to be grounded in a bit a more reality. So imagine my surprise when I popped the DVD in and realized I was in fact seeing a pretty good movie. I felt the effects were solid and that Terry Gilliam had certainly put his stamp on everything that I was seeing. This was then bolstered by the combination of Damon and Ledger on screen together. I really got into these characters. Even though they were complete phonies, they had an erstwhile charm that showed up in almost every situation. It really surprises me that this film didn't do better in the marketplace, because at the end of the day this is one of those movies that didn't really rely on the FX.
THE EXTRAS
Deleted Scenes and Making Of

With Deleted Scenes titled "Escargot", "Brothers In Cages", "Cavaldi Warns Will", "In the Forest" and "Cinderella Story", I was amazed at how different these looked without the finishing touches being applied to them. All these scenes didn't look nearly as sharp as the actual movie, but since they are deleted I guess I really can't complain that much. You can also view these scenes with a commentary by Terry Gilliam, and he gives various reasons why the scenes weren't in the final film. My favorite part was listening to him talk about the "In the Forest" scene, and also getting to see what he was talking about before my very eyes. The "Making Of" is titled Bringing The Fairy Tale To Life and we get to see interviews with the cast, the director and the crew. Everyone talks about why the film is being made, the possibilities of making a movie based on the "Grimm Books" and what a director like Terry Gilliam brings to that equation. Peter Stormare (Cavaldi) provides some interesting insights.

The Visual Magic of The Brothers Grimm and Director's Commentary

The Visual Magic of The Brothers Grimm shows us scenes from the movie and then shows us those same scenes juxtaposed against a blue screen. Gilliam explains that even though he was going to be giving the audience a lot of visual FX, in order to pull that off he wanted to have everything rooted in reality. We then get to see scenes of computer models, how they were adjusted or used to make them work within the movie, but then Gilliam also discussed the logistical challenges of that. Overall, I found this to be an enlightening segment on incorporating FX into a movie. Lastly, the Director's Commentary again features Terry Gilliam as he regales us with stories about how the film got made. He explains how he uses the frame to establish things about actors, as well as giving us some of the real life backstory on some of the people who helped make this movie. Terry Gilliam is a true artist working in a medium that sometimes doesn't value art, yet he never seems to waver from his ideals or what he wants as a filmmaker.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen - 1.85:1. This movie has all the trademark Terry Gilliam style. It is big, majestic, filled with panache and magic, yet the story is small and intimate. As I stated above, I am not that big a fan of Fantasy movies. I have also not followed Gilliam on every one of his cinematic outings. That said, I was really taken by surprise with how accessible this film was. I had expected it to be dark and lost within Gilliam's brilliant mind. Maybe my expectations were low? I don't entirely know the answers, but this movie really hit all the right notes for me. I felt engaged, concerned and best of all I really looked forward to every scene. When the movie ended I had that rare feeling of not wanting the credits to roll.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. French Language Track. Spanish Subtitles. The audio for this film was perfect for my tastes. It was big but not so big that I felt drained. Maybe if I had watched this movie in the theater I would have felt differently? However, on my 9", one speaker TV The Brothers Grimm played just fine. I was also surprised by the amount of dialogue exchanged by Damon and Ledger. While I certainly wouldn't describe this movie as a "talkie" film, these characters are very well rounded. In fact, of the Gilliam movies I have scene, lack of characterization has never been a problem in his stories. Overall, this movie was paced in such a way that all the moments seemed to happen at the right time.
THE PACKAGE
The Grimm Brothers are the most prominent on a cover with an eclectic cast of characters. At first glance, I would probably pick up this DVD, stare at the cover and then put it back on the shelf. It just looks too medieval for my tastes. The back features another shot of Ledger and Damon, some shots from the movie, a description of the story, a "Bonus Features" listing, a cast list and some technical specs. While it would seem that a DVD like this would get the 2-3 disc treatment (especially if it were from Anchor Bay), I like that they have kept things simple with just one.
THE FINAL WORD
I wonder if people really will go or not go and see a movie based on how it is doing at the box office? I know that moviegoers make their decisions based on reviews (which is something I can't understand), but it really seems like money has become important in determining a movie's success. If a film makes more money than was initially expected, that is touted in the press, and it seems like audiences respond to this. If it makes less money then that seems to warn people that if they haven't already spent their money... DON'T!

How does all this apply to The Brothers Grimm? Well, when it first opened I remember the box office not being that great. I think it was much less than $20 million. Well, based on this and the fact that I don't really go for these movies, I stayed away. However, watching it on DVD made me realize that I had in fact done this. Why would I let money dictate whether I would see a movie? Of course it isn't as black and white as this, there were other factors at work, but I can't help think of some of the other films I have missed based on the first weekend numbers.

The Brothers Grimm was a surprisingly enjoyable movie that never got lost in itself or it's own creator's head.

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