on January 23, 2001
I find it sad that much of the country bases it's movie selections on the opinions of hacks like Leonard Maltin. I can see why this wasn't a mainstream success due to it's waaaaaay out in left field mentality, but because of all the negativity this great film remains unseen by many. As people come around to the acting genius of both Johnny Depp and Benecio Del Toro (and they will), they will inevitably want to see their earlier works and then, finally, they will see what all the hype wasn't about.
Terry Gilliam absolutely NAILED Hunter's book. The visuals are incredible and alarming. The angles, strange and enticing. I heard that they filmed this movie without a script, just the book in hand. After reading the book, I believe trying to write a script for it could have severly dampened the impact.
Now for the drug use... If you are the type of person who realized that Fight Club wasn't really about the fighting, then you will also realize that Fear & Loathing isn't really about the drug use. According to the big dog movie critics only a stoner will appreciate this movie, which leads me to believe that only idiots become professional movie reviewers.
If you appreciate ground-breaking cinema, truly innovative directing, first-rate acting and are looking for something different... the ramblings of a gonzo journalist could be just the thing.
on October 14, 1999
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" Review
Though it was greeted with lukewarm reviews and mediocre ticket sales, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was a wonderfully made movie that catches every essence of Hunter S. Thompson's word. The movie follows Thompson's drug induced alter ego, Raoul Duke (played by Johnny Depp), and his doped up Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo (played by Benecio del Toro), as they travel in pursuit of the "American Dream." Based on the 1971 novel of the same name, the (drug) counterculture comedy was a roller coaster ride on LSD. Due to its graphic depiction of drug use and its effects, the film was looked at as a "plotless movie about drug addicts." I found these reviews a little hard to swallow, though. True, the movie is about drugs and how those on them function differently from the "sober" half of society. Those who are opposed to drugs on the screen (or drugs in general) could easily damn the movie for its content. Moreso, though, it is a lifestyle that few get to see. It is an ADVENTURE for the ambiguous "American Dream." Being undefined, this pursuit is almost aimless. This, however, does not mean the movie does not have plot. The search for the "dream" and their experiences with others is the real story here. It just doesn't have any real closure. Throughout the film, the story follows the book pretty closely. The movie begins with Duke and Gonzo speeding through the desert on their way to the Las Vegas. Being a writer, Duke has been sent to cover the Mint 400 Race, a motorcycle exhibition that takes place in the desert near Vegas. Having received the assignment while "relaxing" with Gonzo, Duke decides to make the trip more "pleasure" than "business." They purchase a new car (the Red Shark) and fill its trunk to capacity with nearly every drug imaginable. Upon arriving in Vegas, the duo begins their mad drug fed romp through the "sin city." They terrorize the desert town without trying to get caught. Their diet, consisting mainly of grapefruits and the contents of their trunk, provides them with enough sustenance to stumble from casino to casino. Duke attempts to report on the Mint 400, but finds no glory (and no hint of the American Dream). For a time, the two are seperated, as Gonzo returns to LA for business. Upon his return, the duo continue their search for the "Dream," but quickly find interest in other activities (infiltrating a police officer conference while under the influence, drinking pure adrenaline, trashing a room and assaulting a maid, etc.) In the end, the two give up their mission and leave Vegas with unpaid hotel bills and alot of angry citizens. From start to finish, the movie pretty much parallels the book. There are even times when pieces of dialogue are verbatim. One scene that definitely does not appear in the movie (and is very oblique in the book) was a chapter based on a static recording made by "Thompson." In it, he and Gonzo make inquiries of the vague "American Dream" to dime store waitresses who can offer no real directions. With the storyline and the material similar to the book, the originality and flair of the film comes from a mix of the elements. First, the cast is a stupendous gathering of Hollywood's finest underlings - Christina Ricci as the depressed, Streisand infatuated tag along; Cameron Diaz (for a minute) as a spellbinding TV reporter; Gary Busey as the righteous but accepting Highway patrol officer; Benecio del Torro as the unbearable but faithful (to the "Dream") Dr. Gonzo. Secondly, Johnny Depp delivers the performance of a lifetime as the eccentric and insightful Raoul Duke/Hunter S. Thompson. Also, people who have seen Thompson in interviews on TV would know that Depp truly embodied the writer in both body movements and speech. Third, with artists like Jefferson Airplane, Three Dog Night, and Bob Dylan on the soundtrack, the psychedelic music that accompanies the film is both fitting and mood inspiring. Fourth, and lastly, "Fear and Loathing" would never have come to the screen in the format it did if the film had not been placed in the capable and crafty hands of director Terry Gilliam. With movies like "The Fisher King" and "12 Monkeys" under his belt, Gilliam has proven himself to have an original touch and an eye for the abnormal. These can be seen in the wide angle shots of desert, the extreme close ups of the panic stricken characters, the dark lighting that accompanies the hallucinations, and the special effects that enable the audience to tread lightly on the drug trips. In the end, I saw "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as one of the better films of 1998. The acting was commendable. The directing, superb. And all in all, a damn good movie to watch if you wish to find the "American Dream" for yourself.
on February 5, 2010
I have been a Hunter Thompson reader and fan for years. I saw this film when it was released in the local cinema and fell in love with it. The entire movie is a masterpiece and will not disappoint if you are in any way shape or form a fan of Hunter's writing. The movie pays an honest and humble homage to the book. Hunter's writing was extremely visual to begin with and therefore a challenge to put to screen. And in my opinion it was done near-flawlessly. Fret not, all the lewd, lascivious, and what is now politically incorrect behavior are present in the movie. And done so with respect for the book as well as the most scrutinizing fan. But if you're reading this review then you're most likely familiar with the movie itself and have long since formed your own opinions about it. That being said, how about this "new" BluRay release?
This movie was indeed released on BluRay long before the US release. And it was not too expensive in online auction sites and was even available here, though not sold by Amazon, for months now. So, you already own the overseas version and want to know if you should upgrade to the newer official US release?
In short, don't bother. As far as I can tell they are exactly the same.
The video: BluRay release of this movie is not by any means a reference quality print. However, this may well be due to the original film's look and not the fault of a shoddy transfer. Some of the blacks are a bit washed out, some of the colors are not entirely true...especially noticeable in the flesh tones at some points. That's not to say that the DVD is lackluster in appearance. Though there are flaws throughout, they are all minor and none of them will make you regret the price of the DVD. Actually, compared to the Criterion Edition I own, this transfer stands superior and is the one to watch of the two.
The audio: The film's audio is a marked improvement over it's standard DVD releases. However, it's still not quite as "natural" as I would have liked it. I'm not sure how much of this is the way the movie was initially produced and how much of it is the transfer. My guess is this is as good as it gets and is probably as true to the original soundtrack is you'll get. And is most likely the way it was meant to be heard in the cinema.
Is it worth upgrading if you had already purchased the BluRay before the Feb 2nd release date? Not in my opinion. The packaging is slightly different. The menu is slightly different. But short of that it's identical to the earlier BluRay release.
In conclusion, of all the DVD releases this movie has gone through, either of the BluRay releases will be your best choice by far. It's not an amazing transfer, but best around to date.
on March 22, 2007
We all know about fear and loathing's story line (which is superb and incredibly funny), however my review is of the quality of the content (compared to the standard DVD which I also own).
Nothing is simple in the world of technology - and simply buying an HD-DVD does not mean that the sound & picture is going to be the best money can buy, I purchased full metal jacket on HD-DVD and was dissapointed by the quality of it. Fear & Loathign is quite the opposite....
I was blown away by the picture and sound quality - compared to other HD-DVD's I own this one is by far the best, the picture is so clear you can see the pores on johhny depps face.
I would seriously reccomend this product over the standard DVD.
on March 30, 2000
In case you don't know what ROTFLMAO means, it's internet shorthand for "rolling on the floor, laughing my a** off". I am not one to laugh out loud in a theatre and generally I don't go for comedy films anyway. "Fear and Loathing" is the exception to both of those claims. This is one of the most "un-politically-correct" films in years, and a much more realistic pictures of some people some of us actually knew in the 70's who took psychodelic drugs as a normal, everyday thing. Completely irresponsible and dangerous, the storyline is completely believable. Johnny Depp nails Hunter Thompson cold and is simply hilarious. Terry Gilliam practically turned the book into the script verbatim. In fact I've never seen a closer film adaptation of a book. I saw the movie in the theatres and this was one of the first DVD's I ever bought. DVD extras include several scenes not used in the movie and a making-of documentary. One really good deleted scene involves Thompson and Gonzo drinking at the police convention in Vegas next to a visiting cop. What's wonderful is the way these guys work off of each other as they develop a total line of bull to feed the cop who hangs on every word. It's a classic snowjob, but was edited out because it moves slowly and has no bearing on the actual story. Still, it helps to show the great interaction of the characters and you won't see it anywhere but the DVD. Isn't that what DVD's were supposed to be for ? I normally agree with many news reviews of movies but not in this case. This movie never got the accolades it deserved. Except from me of course. This is bat country ! Buy it, watch it, love it for life, but as Simon & Garfunkel once said to Mrs Robinson: "most of all we've got to hide it from the kids, koo-koo-ca-choo..."
on June 26, 2007
...older, meaning more than 4-5 years old (or earlier generation dvd's). I read the great reviews of the transfer and have seen my share of disappointing high-def discs already. So I was skeptical when I bought it. This is one of the best (funniest) movies ever.
Well, I first watched the opening scene and some parts of my Criterion version (which had been a better standard transfer) on my 56 HD-RPTV. It used to look great on my 32" tube TV. It looked terrible on the bigger screen of course, making me scared of another cruddy HD transfer like my Sleepy Hollow or the Game (worst ever so far).
After the first few seconds of the opening scene, let alone the rest of the movie, I loved this transfer (HD-DVD). Now this is how "somewhat older" films should look like on HD-DVD! Absolutely amazing colors, contrast and sharpness. The vegas lights look fantastic as do the rest of the colors in this "trip". No annoying digital noise, a few specs of dust on the film which I never mind, and the dust/smoke is rendered beautifully. The DD+ soundtrack is great and it has a DD True soundtrack even though most of us at this point can't take full advantage of it. What a fantastic job this is- I'm loving it.