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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Movie Review

Finally, it is here. After Heath Ledger's untimely death early in 2008, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" has been widely anticipated (well at least in our case that is). And after watching Heath Ledger as the Joker on "The Dark Knight", the build up for his last film just got bigger and bigger. Even better, the best actors of his generation even joined the bandwagon to help finish the film in his honor. Three Hollywood superstars, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell all play different roles as Tony. Terry Gilliam is at the helm and has a momentous task to finish a film that will serve as an end to an actor's unexpected demise. Read on to find out if this will quench our expectations.

"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his extraordinary Imaginarium, a traveling show where the audience can get a chance to experience their most desired imaginations. This is possible because Parnassus is actually blessed with the power of guiding the imaginations of people when he is on a trance. Now, Doctor Parnassus has a dilemma as he has a long-kept secret that will affect his daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole). He made a deal with the devil to get back his mortality and youth to be able to love the girl of his dreams, Valentina's mother. In return though, any children that Parnassus will have will be given to the devil on their 16th birthday. Desperate to protect her from her fate, he has made a new bet with the devil - a race to get 5 souls. If Parnassus wins, he can get his daughter back and if not, the deal will still push through. All looks hopeless until one day, Parnassus and his crew happen upon a hanged man named Tony. Tony has wit and charm that might win souls on Parnassus' side. Can Tony (Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp,Jude Law, Colin Farrell) save Valentina's soul?

"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" is not for everyone. We are pretty sure that a lot of people will hate it and why? Because it is a deep film. It felt like we were doing philosophy and theology classes at the same time when we watched it. It didn't help that the visuals and characters used were sometimes confusing. Now do not get us wrong here - we actually liked the film. The visuals while surreal was truly amazing. All the actors gave their all (yet we feel that no other movie could surpass Ledger's performance as Joker) and we really liked how the Heath Ledger-Johnny Depp transformation happened. We thought it was Heath on screen but it was Johnny already - that caught us by surprise.

The biggest downer for the film is probably how the narrative was presented. It will make you scratch your head a lot of times and more so frustrate you - it will require some brain power to really get the hang of the story. This is most probably due to the fact that the movie's lead star wasn't able to complete the film and they did all their best to salvage what they already started. We were still impressed on how they were able to piece together scenes they've already finished with Ledger and scenes with the new actors. The ending was so-so at best which we really felt was out-of-place with how the story was going. Without revealing details, the ending was just a 180-degree turn from how the movie was going 90% before that. In the end, if you are patient enough to try understand what's happening on screen and what the heck the movie is all about, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" will be a rewarding experience. But if you are a movie watcher just out for some fun, then maybe skipping this is a good idea.

Rating: 3 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- surreal visuals that just blew our minds away
- great acting from all actors, even those with minor roles
- if you want to see how they managed to save the film after Ledger's passing

Why you shouldn't watch it
- most people would definitely have a hard time getting what the heck is happening - it was like a philosophy class on screen
- it lacks polish on some areas especially with its narrative and ending

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