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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 201 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Additional Features

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

Special Features

  • New digital transfer supervised by the director and new Dolby sound mixes
  • Three commentary tracks: director Terry Gilliam; stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi; and author Hunter S. Thompson
  • Deleted scenes, with commentary by Terry Gilliam
  • Collection of storyboards and production designs
  • Collection of original artwork by famed illustrator Ralph Steadman
  • Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood: A BBC feature documentary with Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman
  • Hunter Goes to Hollywood, a short documentary video by Wayne Ewing
  • A look at the controversy over the screenwriting credit
  • A selection of Hunter S. Thompson's correspondence read on-camera by Johnny Depp
  • Rare material on Oscar Zeta Acosta, the attorney on whom the character Dr. Gonzo is based
  • Excerpt from the 1996 audio CD
  • Trailer and stills galleries
  • A booklet featuring an essay by J. Hoberman and two pieces by Hunter S. Thompson

Product Details

  • Actors: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey
  • Directors: Terry Gilliam
  • Writers: Terry Gilliam, Alex Cox, Hunter S. Thompson, Tod Davies, Tony Grisoni
  • Producers: Elliot Lewis Rosenblatt, Harold Bronson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007ELDF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,949 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This DVD finally gives one of Terry Gilliam's lesser-loved (but brilliant!) films the red carpet treatment. The commentary from Gilliam is crazed and passionate; Depp and Del Toro really show off their wit, charm, and intelligence along with producer Laila Nabulsi's back-stage insight, and the last commentary is a rather odd and screwball one from Thompson himself. I won't tell you a thing about the last commentary. You've got to buy this and check it out on your own. (Here's a hint: 'Screeee-ahhhh! Raaaaaaaagh!' *other assorted sounds*)
The second disc is crammed with some great goodies as well - Depp reads letters written to/from Thompson. There's a great BBC documentary showing HST and Ralph Steadman undertaking a trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Another gem is a snippet from an audio-book recording of Fear & Loathing with Jim Jarmusch as Raoul Duke! All definitely worth it.
Fear and Loathing isn't just a drug movie (as all the extras on the DVD will reiterate over and over again) - it's a truthful, imaginative, twisted, and subversive take on the death of the most idealistic decade and generation. We get to see it all through the eyes of two renegade professionals, one a journalist and the other a lawyer, both fighting the good fight against scum and villainy.
We can't stop here! THIS IS BAT COUNTRY.
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By A Customer on February 17, 2003
Format: DVD
If, when you rent this film, you are expecting a Cheech and Chong film, think twice. People frequently compare the two, but Fear and Loathing is not only infinitely better, it is not the screwball comedy everyone seems to think it is.
Johnny Depp plays Raoul Duke, alter ego to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote the book this film is based on. He is sent on an assignment by Rolling Stone to cover a motorcycle race in Las Vegas. Coming along for the ride is Dr. Gonzo (aka Oscar Zeta Acosta), Duke's repulsive attorney, played by Benicio del Toro. The two rent a very expensive convertible and bring along with them a case full of illegal drugs.
The film is essentially the journey of two drug-fueled madmen through one of the most unfriendly cities in the country, but it's also a study on what life was like in 1971. In the end, as funny as it may be, it's really a docudrama. Gilliam directs the film in his classic "nightmarish" style, creating a truly hellish vision of America. But the biggest surprise of all is how true the screenplay is to the novel. Sure, like any adaptation, some good stuff is taken out, but if you compare what's written down, there isn't that much of a difference.
Most enjoyable, however, are the performances. Johnny Depp is hilarious as Duke and Del Toro, despite how disgusting his character is, is nothing short of a scene stealer. The film is also ripe with cameos, the most memorable are the ones delivered by Harry Dean Stanton, Tobey Maguire, Gary Busey, and of course, Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
I recommend this to any Gilliam/Thompson fans, though in order to enjoy it, you need to watch it in a generally filthy atmosphere, and for some of you, you may need to see it more than once to really appreciate this. Overall, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a very good film filled with moments that stick with you for a long time.
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Format: DVD
Fear and Loathing is just outright "wet your pants" hilarious at every junction. Not only does Del Toro sport the best beer belly in the business but Depp's take on Hunter S. Thompson just goes to show what a talent he is because the performance is 610% perfection in every department. This film just cracks me up!
The problem with this film is that it assaults mainstream movie-goers unconditionally from start to finish by never conforming to the standards that keep them "safe" inside their shell. If you don't let go then chances are you are another false member of that which Hunter S. Thompson is expounding about - the crook called the "American Dream". The person on your left is laughing. The person on your right is sitting smug faced. The one behind is complaining and the one in front is crying. The result is that if you hate this movie you hate it because you can just never understand it, like the business guy who walks into the toilet only to see a grown man sniff LSD from another's felt sleeve. The person leaves confused, will never understand it, because he has never experienced anything like that and has no clue what it is all about. People will try and deal with all of this by labelling it somehow. "Drugs! Its all about those druggies and only druggies will get it!" some may cry out. The truth is that people who may have done drugs will know a little about the unconventionality that this film is based on but yet again there are many others who will also get it, but never have done drugs. This film attacks a certain type of personality - those who are stuck so far up their own orifice with the American dream that they have limited their perceptions of life indefinitely and remain wooden throughout the rest of their existence.
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Format: DVD
I must admit, when I first saw the movie at the late, lamented Worldwide center (second run movie house) in Manhattan, I thought it was noisy and unfocused, and a lesser effort by a brilliant director. I bought the DVD anyway, mainly because any Terry Gilliam movie is worth having, and Criterion versions doubly so. Well, my opinion of the movie has done almost a complete 180 degree turn. Perhaps the movie, coming out during the epicurian excess of the Clinton years, seemed like a sad relic of decades gone by-sort of an art house Cheech and Chong movie. But now, with the nation and the world in such turmoil, and the divide between the left and the right in this country moving back to center stage, the movie feels completely of, and perhaps ahead of, the times. Far from being a pro-drug movie (Duke and Dr. Gonzo are never held up to be the good guys, and their various "trips" are scarier than anything the anti-drug legions can come up with.) this is a movie about anesthesia, One group may use drugs, another may use money, or power, or sex, but the effect is all the same. These are people trying to escape from the reality of their existence, and for our "heroes", the anesthetic doesn't so much wear off, but pulls them even deeper into the horror.
The movie itself is an overlooked gem, but the good folks at Criterion have packed the dvd and companion disc with some of the best features they've ever attempted. A Terry Gilliam commentary is always welcome, and Depp and Del Toro have their say, but how about a commentary by Hunter S. Thompson in full gonzo mode.
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