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Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Andrew Garfield, Lily Cole, Tom Waits
RunTime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & InnoForm Media
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.doctorparnassus.com/

Opening Day: 28 January 2010


"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a travelling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr Nick, in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr Nick.

Valentina is now rapidly approaching this 'coming of age' milestone and Dr Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate. Mr Nick arrives to collect but, always keen to make a bet, renegotiates the wager. Now the winner of Valentina will be determined by whoever seduces the first five souls. Enlisting a series of wild, comical and compelling characters in his journey, Dr Parnassus promises his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win. In this captivating, explosive and wonderfully imaginative race against time, Dr Parnassus must fight to save his daughter in a never-ending landscape of surreal obstacles - and undo the mistakes of his past once and for all.

Movie Review:

The unfortunate sideshow for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus would be the unexpected passing of Heath Ledger. That caused Director Terry Gilliam (probably one of the most unlucky directors with a string of unfortunate events that happened in his movie career) to halt the film’s production and crack his head on how to complete this movie. Heath Ledger's (Tony) scenes in the Imaginarium had not been filmed and the director eventually came up with an idea of replacing the Imaginarium's Tony(s) with various different actors. If you had read the credits above, it's not hard to figure out that Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped up to the plate and helped finish the production by playing the different incarnations of Tony in the Imaginarium (and also gave their salary to Heath Ledger daughter Matilda). With this special collaboration, we finally get to see Heath Ledger's final performance on the big screen.

The next inquisitive question would probably be 'did the rewrite stick out as a sore thumb?' or 'were the different actors playing the same role a jarring distraction to the flow of the story'. Credit has to be given to the director's clever rewrite and the actors' respective charms that they were able to blend the original take (featuring Heath's Tony) and gave the mysterious Tony more dramatic layers and intrigue.

Heath Ledger gave the Tony that was based in reality a sense of loss and confusion coupled with wild desperation (which sort of invoked memories of a certain Joker). Johnny Depp gave his usual mesmerizing flair as the tour guide Tony who adapts easily to his new duties. Jude Law amped it up as a power hungry Tony. Lastly, Colin Farrell stole the show as the best Tony replacement with his performance of Tony’s smarmiest side. In my humble opinion, the performances by these four actors and the imaginative Imaginarium from Terry Gilliam already made it worthwhile to pay for a ticket for this movie.

Now that we have that distracting sideshow over and done with, it's time for the review of the main feature. Terry Gilliam had used the fantasy elements in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to reflect on the age old tussle with good and evil. On one level, the battle between sins and virtue was crafted on the bet between the Devil and Doctor Parnassus. As the story progressed, the battle spilled over to those who become involved with Doctor Parnassus's traveling act. Using imaginative compositions, this movie breaks down on how people go about in their decisions of doing good or bad with the most animated scenarios.

However, this film also had its own set of problems. Initially the story muddled through unclear explanations of what was going on and was over indulgent with the problems that plagued Doctor Parnassus and his daughter. It took quite a while before the dust settled down and things become more clear with what the Imaginarium could do. The story also felt like a bland telling of a fumbling traveling act before the mysterious Tony appeared and brought exciting intrigue into the mix.

This movie is filled with symbolic representations of what is good and evil that might open a chain of discussion between friends after the movie is over. Some might find the issues easy to comprehend and relatable to real life issues while some might just find all these a hogwash. Folks who are fans of Terry Gilliam and Heath Ledger should not miss this as this is one of their better works in recent years.

Movie Rating:

(Great fantasy film featuring Heath Ledger final performance and an interesting blend of supporting acts by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell but the film did suffered a bit from the director's overindulgent in his story telling)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. Alice In Wonderland (2010)

. Avatar (2009)

. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

. Stardust (2007)

. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

. Finding Neverland (2004)


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