The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 3 Old 04-29-10, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Blu-ray Review

Title: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Starring: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Verne Troyer, Tom Waits, Andrew Garfield, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Written by: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown
Studio: Sony Classic
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 123 Minutes
Release Date: 4/27/2010

Terry Gilliam films have always been somewhat of an acquired taste, even for his fans. I will say that I personally haven’t come across any of them that I just flat disliked but there were more than a few that left me scratching my head. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is no exception as it’s off beat and whimsical storyline takes the viewer on a journey through discovery and ultimately arrive at a destination where people must face the reality of who they truly are.

Our story begins when the Doctor Parnassus traveling show sets up shop outside of a pub in London. As patrons exit the pub. One drunken patron of the pub in particular takes notice of the traveling show and quickly makes his way to see the presentation. Once he arrives, he becomes very brutish and eventually turns violent as he gets lost behind “the mirror”. After convincing the police that they had nothing to do with the man’s disappearance, Doctor Parnassus and crew pack up shop and hit the road.

While traveling the streets of London, Anton (Garfield) notices a strange shadow dancing on the river only to find it is actually a man hanging by the neck under a bridge. The man turns out to be Tony (Ledger), a man with no memory of whom or where he is. It isn’t long before Anton becomes jealous of Tony as a romantic spark seems to be igniting between Tony and Valentia (Cole), Parnassus’ daughter and the object of Anton’s affection. As the story continues we learn that Dr. Parnassus is actually a thousand year old man who has lost a bet with Mr. Nick (Waits) who turns out to be the devil himself. When Mr. Nick shows up to collect on the debt three days early, another wager is made between the two with the soul of Valentia hanging in the balance. Now Parnassus must figure out a way to win the bet and save his daughter from Mr. Nick with the help of the new stranger that they have picked up along the way.

I really enjoyed this movie for the most part. It reminded me a lot of some of Gilliam’s earlier works like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Time Bandits while blending in some of the random chaos of films like 12 Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Gilliam has such an incredible gift for telling these types of stories and still keeping it somewhat mainstream and it is a shame that Ledger was never able to complete the movie. Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell did a wonderful job of stepping into the role of Tony which was very relieving as I had my doubts that the transition would be as seamless as I had read. However; the context in which it is presented lends itself to a completely believable scenario for this fantasy world in which we are watching. Still, after seeing the movie and some of the extras, and knowing what Ledger pulled off as The Joker, I can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been had he completed the movie.

The entire cast did a wonderful job of creating believable characters that expressed an array of emotions that really brought this story to life. I was particularly impressed with Lily Cole’s performance as Valentia and Colin Farrell’s performance as Tony as they really opened up and let the moment take them away.

Rated PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking.

Parnassus has been given and AVC 1080P transfer with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. With an average bit rate of 24-25 Mbps, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus looks great. Not what I would call reference quality as some of the shadowing and black levels are not as detailed as I would have preferred however; the whimsical land of the Imaginarium comes to life with a brilliant pallet of colors that incorporates just about every shade imaginable. There is a lot of detail throughout the movie but I felt there was a certain level of restraint as colors didn’t seem to be as vivid as I thought they could have been. Of course this could also be that ‘Avatar’ is still fresh in my mind. It is obvious that this was not an issue with the transfer but more of a decision made by the director as the “real world” scenes looked dirty and gritty next to the pristine world of the Imaganarium. All things considered, this is a good looking transfer.

Parnassus comes to us with a DTS-HD-Master Audio soundtrack that doesn’t disappoint. Voices are very detailed and textured and the score sounds great. There are moments in the Imaginarium that have some really good LFE such as Tony escaping on a pair of stilts that probably measure upward of 200’. There is also some good use of surrounds in some of the more populated scenes and explosions kick in with fairly hardy thumps. There are even a couple of small musical numbers in the movie that really bring the sound alive. Overall a great mix that is proportionate and substantive to the story being told.

This Bluray hosts several interesting yet relatively brief extra features, several of which were in HD.
Audio Commentary with Director Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam Film Introduction
Deleted Scene with optional director commentary
Behind the Mirror: A concept to screen featurette
Building the Monastery: Behind the scenes look
Heath Ledger Wardrobe Test: This piece narrated by Terry Gilliam is a brief glimpse into what might have been had Ledger lived to complete the film.
Interview with Heath Ledger: A short radio interview from 2007 just before production started.
Doctor Parnassus Around the World
Cast & Crew Presentation on Stage
The Artwork of Doctor Parnassus
Theatrical Trailers
I found The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to be an entertaining yet quirky fantasy about the many different faces we show to the world, to the ones closest to us and ultimately ourselves. I highly recommend it to Heath Ledger and Terry Gilliam fans as well as anyone looking for something original yet familiar at the same time. It is a shame Ledger was never able to complete the movie but the friends that stepped up to help finish Gilliam’s vision did an outstanding job of making the transition a seamless one. I will definitely watch a couple of times and will probably buy it once it hits the $14.99 or less price.

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Dale Rasco

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post #2 of 3 Old 04-30-10, 11:55 AM
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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Bluray Review

I will have to check this one out for sure. I am admittedly a fan of Terry Gilliam so this'll be up my alley anyway.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #3 of 3 Old 02-25-15, 07:10 PM
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Re: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Blu-ray Review

After making the rounds of the festivals, the film's first release to theaters in the US was in December 2009, so the Blu-Ray came out pretty quickly.

Cinematography by Nicola Pecorini.
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