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The fair princess longs
to live in a day and age
where someone has
invented finger-nail clippers.
The Brothers Grimm
Review written by: Alex Sandell
Jar Jar Binks has finally met his match. The character of Cavaldi (Peter Stormare) is as over-the-top, overused, obnoxious and hard to understand as the dreaded bane known as Binks. And, just like Jar Jar, he brings down what could have been a really good film.
Cavaldi is a master torturer with a strong fake French accent that sounds like Pepé Le Pew with a sore throat. You miss half of what he says, and the half you pick up isn't that interesting, to begin with. As with Jar Jar Binks, the character could have easily been written out of the movie and the film would have been all the better for it.
There is an interesting story here, surrounded by wonderful set design, unique FX and inspired direction from Terry Gilliam. The movie looks a lot like Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow and plays like a twisted version of Shrek made solely for teenagers and adults. As with Gilliam's 1981 "family" film, Time Bandits (which freaked me out for days, when I saw it as a kid); it may be best to leave the little ones at home (the 13 and up crowd should have no trouble with it, though).
Wilhelm Grimm (Matt Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) are brought to a small village where young girls have been disappearing. One, in a red riding cloak is taken by a flying wolf. Another is swallowed whole by a monster horse. The one that really seemed to frighten the kids in the audience had a child's face melt away when attacked by a tar-baby Gingerbread man.
Trees in the forest are alive and shuffle around silently on their roots, changing positions and causing visitors to lose their way. Only a toad, when licked, can point the wayward traveler back to safety. The source of the evil seems to emanate from an old tower with no entrance. It is said that a lady in love with herself (she stood at the alter looking at her reflection in a mirror, rather than her husband to be) entered it to escape a plague. She is said to have been up there for centuries. Rumor has it, she's up there still.
Wilhelm refuses to buy into the legend, but Jacob believes the story to be true. Smitten with Angelika (Lena Headey), who is labeled by the villagers as cursed, due to her two sisters being the first of the girls to be taken off into the woods, Jacob has reason to stick around and solve the mystery of the missing children. Wilhelm stays with him, the entire time imagining a life without Jacob -- and not thinking that it sounds like that bad a thing, actually.
If the movie was streamlined, putting the story of the enchanted forest at its center, without needless distractions, The Brothers Grimm could have been one of the better big-budget summer blockbusters released over the past few years. For whatever reason, the film wastes countless minutes on the Cavaldi character and the French army he works for. Just this once, somebody should have listened to the far right conservatives and took out the French.
It's hard to explain, without spoiling the entire film, how much these characters bog down The Brothers Grimm. Whenever things are getting exciting, the convoluted story involving the French, their exaggerated accents and cartoonish behavior (Note to the PC Police - I'm referring to the French characters in this movie, not the actual French), come in and slow things down to a near halt.
The discerning viewer will see a great film hidden deep below the mediocre one shown on the screen before them. With a few nips and tucks in the editing room and a little tweaking of the screenplay, The Brothers Grimm could have been cinematic magic. As it stands, it's a flawed fairy tale unworthy of the name Grimm.
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