Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This is one of those movies that you have heard about for such a long time but you have never gotten around to seeing it. Fear and Loathing is based on the experience of Hunter S. Thompson on a drug fueled writing assignment with his attorney along for the ride. Johnny Depp is excellent in the movie in one of the only roles that I can actually watch him act in. He really is not a favorite of mine but he was excellent in the movie. Benecio Del Toro turns in a really odd and strange performance where 90% of his dialogue is inaudible. He makes almost no sense throughout the entire movie because his character spends most of the time tripping on LSD. This is definitely the best "drug trip" movie that I have seen in a long time. Terry Gilliam is a visual genius and shows it once again in this film. He does amazing work when the characters are hallucinating and he tries to make the hallucination as real to the viewer as it is to the characters in the movie.

There is no real story or conflict to the movie other than the fact that the two main characters are getting demolished on every drug that they can while covering some obscure dirt bike race in Las Vegas. There is no evil bad guy in the movie, just the drugs that are eating away at their sense of what is real and what is not. Some of the parts are kind of sad when you realize the characters have absolutely no idea what is going on and have no control over their own actions. Gilliam tries to blend the world of the hallucination and the real world together to give you one cohesive experience. Elements of the hallucination will be on screen as well as elements of the real world, so at times it is very difficult to determine what is from the hallucination and what is not. This was my favorite aspect of the movie, because there were just so many weird images that popped up on screen and it was awesome seeing some of them for the first time after reading the book.

My main issue with the film is that with a lack of conflict the movie begins to drag at a certain point. With the book, I felt like I was along for the ride and I was experiencing all of the events first hand because the writing as so detailed. The movie wasn't able to fully capture all of the detail of the book and it was slightly disappointing. Also after watching the Criterion Collection version of the movie, I found out that the movie was originally supposed to be an animated movie. That would have been something magical because there would have been no bounds as to what you could put or animate on screen. Gilliam did the best he could with monetary limitations and working from a script that he wrote in just 10 days. Still turned out to be a pretty good movie overall.

This is a movie that could be classified as an experience. There is something about the movie that just sucks you in and never lets you go. Also after seeing this film, I am fairly certain I will never try and drugs that they did in the movie because it seems like kind of a shitty time. Watch this movie if you want to see the work of a visionary director and the last time that Johnny Depp was bearable. I gave this movie a solid 7/10. It just really wasn't my style of movie.

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