Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Rating -

Farse (US); 1998; Rated R; 118 Minutes

Johnny Depp: Raoul Duke
Benicio Del Toro: Dr. Gonzo
Craig Bierko: Lacerda
Christina Ricci: Lucy

Produced by Harold Bronson, Patrick Cassavetti, Richard Foos, John Jergens, Laila Nabulsi, Stephen Nemeth and Elliot Lewis Rosenblatt; Directed by Terry Gilliam; Screenwritten by Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni, Tad Davies and Alex Cox; based on the novel written by Hunter S. Thompson

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Terry Gilliam's "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" is a triumph of direction over plot, imagination over treatment, and conception over realism. The movie is a masterpiece on terms other than those which would normally get a film a four star rating. Watching movies, we often look for the treatment of plot, characters, and concept in order for the material to work on screen. I'm willing to admit that "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" may not be totally perfect in these areas, but still, the movie is a great one. Why, you ask? It's all in the concept of imagination and creativity.

When you watch movies like "Dazed In Confused," in which characters attempt to be funny by smoking pot and doing other drugs, things do not turn out for the best. These movies are almost doomed to total failure, because nothing is funny about these things. The only movie that managed to spark feeling and emotion into the drugs and managed to be funny was "Trainspotting," and now comes "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas," which, instead of sparking emotion and feeling, provokes free-flowing creativity with every scene that its main characters are featured in. Watching it, I was shocked in how quickly I absorbed myself into it. I was smiling at the constantly-corny jokes, enjoying the characters, and loving the story. Based on an acclaimed novel, "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" is one of the greatest films in the past ten years.

The star here is none other than Johnny Depp, a man who, after "Edward Scissorhands," seemed to disappear from public popularity. Here, he is back in full swing, playing a journalist of some sorts named Raoul Duke, who comes across the opportunity for a story in Las Vegas. He heads to this fabulous location with his assistant Dr. Gonzo, played by Benicio Del Toro, whom, you may notice, has put on weight for the role. Both are always drugged up by a supply of 'reefer' they have in the trunk of their car, and neither of them go anywhere without it. By the time they get to their destination, the pretty lights and bright colors are almost too much for them. Their sights and senses become completely disorganized, and before you know it, they're seeing weird shapes, weird colors, and other weird things emerge from the crowds they pass by. We see these things, too, as if the direction of the film from here on out is being portrayed through the very eyes of one of these druggies.

This conception is refreshing on this type of material, considering that it seems somewhat related to that of "Dazed And Confused." The movie is simply about having a good time, and by george, these dudes have it, either by insulting others or by shouting out blundering (but observant) dialogue right there on the street. The movie kept my attention from beginning to end. Though it got bad reviews in its initial release, I'm quick to warn you that it's not a bad movie. It's a great movie. Normally, it wouldn't get the whole four stars, but since the material and approach stayed on my mind for months and months, it deserves the whole amount.

1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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