Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro. The screen melts and morphs into one psychedelic image after another as a journalist and his lawyer embark on a drug-addled trip to Vegas. Based on the book by the original gonzo journalist," Hunter S. Thompson. 1998/color/118 min/R/widescreen.
Criterion's high standards get even higher with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
. "Hunter Goes to Hollywood" is a fascinating 1978 segment of the BBC's Omnibus
series, following "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thomson and artist Ralph Steadman on a Fear and Loathing
-like odyssey to La-La-Land; a visit to Thompson's Aspen, Colorado, ranch offers ample proof that Johnny Depp's later portrayal is uncannily accurate. All three commentaries are worthwhile for different reasons: as always, Gilliam is intelligent, mischievously subversive, and defiantly protective of Thompson's source material; Depp and Benicio Del Toro offer passionate perspective on tackling their demanding roles without
drugs; and producer Laila Nabulsi chronicles her 10-year effort to get the film made (including the protracted writer's credit arbitration). Thompson's commentary is the least coherent but most entertaining; with occasional whoops and hollers, he's like a stand-up act for acid freaks, dispensing occasional pearls of wisdom. Another excellent feature is Depp's reading of correspondence with Thompson; in emulating his friend, Depp proves himself to be a fine writer and storyteller. Taken together, these and other features make Criterion's DVD an essential addition to Thompson's literary legacy. --Jeff Shannon