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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

A 2006 movie starring Johnny Depp

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"We Can't Stop Here. This is Bat Country."

  • Jan 3, 2011
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a misunderstood piece of work. It is an adaptation of Hunter S. Thomson's literary masterpiece of the same name. "Fear and Loathing" was a hell of a hard book to adapt, as I imagine. The story was told aimlessly and instead relied on its sense of humor and bizarre imagery to get its point across. Some will say, "If it had a point", but I say, "It has one whether you like it or not". "Fear and Loathing should by all means be one of the worst films of its year, but instead it ends up being on of the best. This film is memorable, crazy, and almost maddening in the best ways possible. It is criticized for many things, some of which include the graphic drug use, the profanity, and of course, the film itself. This is, in every way, a pretty aimless film. It's not as straight forward as most films of its kind, but in doing so it brings much more to the table than one would expect. I'll be completely honest; I loved "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". Terry Gilliam was the one-and-only director capable of adapting such a bizarre story to the big screen, and as you can see he delivered. The strong(est) points for this film are its visual style (which is completely Terry Gilliam stylish), the soundtrack, the entertainment value, the acting, and…pretty much everything else. This is a crazy-ass movie, so take it as you will. I imagine that so many people are going to hate it for what it is, and some may even despise it for what it's not. All and all, it's a movie about drugs, reptile orgies, and the American Dream. And you know what, it's damn proud of it. You may ask, "Were you literally intoxicated when you watched this film?" No, reader, I was not intoxicated in anything other than the film itself, and was perfectly normal while watching it. It's just my preference and my mood that helped me like it, I guess. Much like the novel was important American literature; "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is important American filmmaking. This is a memorable film through and through. I don't know why I loved it as much as I did, but I may have a possible explanation. Like I said, this is a misunderstood film. Controversy lets the mind feel slightly claustrophobic and therefore, everything will seem bad. "Fear and Loathing" does not promote drugs (at least not in my image), but rather promotes being drug-free. Because if you trip acid, you WILL witness a woman's head turn into a poisonous eel. That's damn right.

Raul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo head over to Las Vegas via Red Convertible with a trunk full of drugs and a head full of possibilities. They are headed to Las Vegas in order to cover a race which is taking place, since Gonzo is a self-proclaimed "Doctor of Journalism". On the way to Las Vegas, Duke fends off hallucination-induced bats and the pair picks up a hippie hitchhiker. They explain to this young man what their goal is, and shed some light on the "story". From there, the hippie runs off and the drugged out twosome can return to their journey. Duke wants to discover the heart of the American Dream through this quest, although he'll have to live through all the drugs first. So the rest of the story pretty much consists of the pair leaving and meeting up with each-other and making use of their ever-so great stash of drugs. The effects of the drugs involve the characters hallucinating some pretty whacky stuff as well as giving the film an appropriate psychological feel. It's wickedly entertaining, for a film which doesn't really require a whole lot of thought. What made me live through the experience without much complaints was the fact that I stopped to realize that, "Hey. The book was this pointless. Therefore, this film is faithful to the source material." I think that instead of criticizing what they don't understand, film critics should read the damn book first. If they still don't like the movie….then to hell with them. This film is one which doesn't deserve the trash-talk that it gets on a daily basis. And I'm a proud supporter of this film, gleefully taking "guff from these swine", as Raul Duke would say. There's not a whole lot of room for character development, although the film doesn't exactly want to create interesting characters. Perhaps it is an accident that it does anyways. Some things are purely incidental, and in this case, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is one of Terry Gilliam's finest accidents.

Johnny Depp plays a perfect Raul Duke. He's the skinnier, quirkier person of the two acid junkies, just like in the novel. Benicio Del Toro is also magnificent in his portrayal of the man-ape, loud, profane Dr. Gonzo. Each of these actors are spectacular in bringing the drugged-out heroes of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" to the big screen. Critics complain that each actor's individual portrayal of their characters might count as their worst performance(s) yet, but I heavily disagree. There's also a VERY awesome supporting cast, mostly consisting of small but significant cameos. Some of those cameos would include Cameron Diaz, "Flea", Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin, Verne Troyer, Christine Ricci, and the one (the only) Hunter S. Thomson.

"Fear and Loathing" isn't only about drugs, man. It's a savage, often time funny film with one hell of a heart. Effort was clearly put into it, and it shows in the final result. This is the "Fear and Loathing" adaptation that everyone wanted, complete with arresting visuals and religiously offensive yet funny humor. In the beginning of the film I thought, "This is…kind of different. Kind of weird". By the middle of the film, I was saying, "This is pretty darn strange." And by the end I was saying, "OK, this is DEFINITELY one of the weirdest films ever made." I was warned…but I didn't heed any of the warning. Thank god I didn't. That way, I wasn't expecting all the strangeness that the film had to offer. Gilliam will be remembered as a visual enthusiast who was always ahead of his time when it came to beautiful imagery. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is another visually complex dive into the psychological and even the beautiful. You needn't worry about this film being visually different compared to Gilliam's past films, since it really isn't. The costume design is wonderful, the special effects are great, and the cinematography fits in more Dutch Angles than one can handle. The camera work gives this film a very psychological feel; just how Gilliam probably wanted it. The music is also very good, and creates a winning soundtrack full of atmospheric and just plain classical music. "Jumping Jack Flash" anyone? So in the end, this film has almost impeccable style. It's full of typical Terry Gilliam weirdness, and will satisfy fans of the book as well as fans of Terry Gilliam's directorial productions. This seriously is, a wonderful film.

Like a good number of Terry Gilliam films, there will be divided groups for this film. Some will love it, some will hate it, and some won't know what to think of it. I think that the third thing applied to most critics, and therefore they criticized the film. But I say proudly, this film doesn't deserve negative comments. It's a VERY good film. It's not only a great adaptation, but it's just…compelling filmmaking. It's Terry Gilliam once again doing what he does and doing it very well. He tells a story which to many people is confusing, aimless, and stupid. But to me, he has crafted a masterpiece that gives "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" a run for its money. This may be too thoughtful compared to most films released in its year, but at the same time it may also be dumber than most films of 1998. I don't really care. I've picked a side, and I support the cult status that this film currently has. I own the Criterion Collection edition of the film, and I'm proud to say that in a few good years, this film may be even more recognized by the film community. Critics aside, this film has a good audience. And Gilliam, Depp, and Del Toro should be proud of what they've created with this movie; a compelling, visually stunning vision of an American literary work of art. Thank you Terry Gilliam. Thank you.

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January 09, 2011
EXCELLENT review on a CLASSIC
January 09, 2011
"Righty'o, man. Righty'o."
 
January 03, 2011
Yes! This is a Terry Gilliam classic!! awesome! I can't say much about it, but awesome review!!
January 03, 2011
Why can't you say much about it?
 
1
More Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reviews
Quick Tip by . May 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Simply put, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the weirdest films that I've ever seen in any genre and any medium (and keep in mind that I've seen weird stuff that most of you wouldn't ever think to see).  Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro are perfect as Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo (respectively), and particularly with Depp, his acting as a drug-guzzling journalist was a riot to see, especially all the surreal-as-hell things he sees (such as a bunch of lizards in a bar).   …
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
You have to love Thomas Hunters Gonzo style of journalism, this movie is fun!
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
fear
Oh God, how does one go about reviewing such a film as Fear & Loathing? With great precision & brutal honesty, I suppose....I almost wished that I had done some of those experimental drugs such as the ones our leads characters were snarfing before reviewing this film so that I could relate. I wonder if that would've altered my perception in the very least.      Sadly, Fear & Loathing was not received well during it's initial theatrical run but …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #1
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS is a whirlwind of a movie, a wacky, drug-laden story backed by a fist-pumping rock & roll soundtrack featuring everything from Wayne Newton and Tom Jones to Combustible Edison and Dead Kennedys. Journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) heads to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, bringing along his Samoan lawyer, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), in this furious adaptation of the book by Hunter S. Thompson. It is 1971, and Duke and Gonzo are on their way to Sin City with a frightened hitchhiker (a nearly unrecognizable Tobey Maguire) and a trunkful of drugs, which they ingest nonstop. Depp is terrific as Duke, Thompson's alter ego, and Del Toro is a riot as the crazy lawyer. To perfect his Thompsonian performance, Depp spent a lot of time with the good doctor, and it paid off in a film that captures the frenetic pace of the counterculture novel. Director Terry Gilliam, a master of complex, bizarre visual imagery, has a field day interpreting the drug-hazed world in which Duke and ...
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