Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not-So-Gentle (Re)Viewer: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Having read Hunter S. Thompson's novel of the same name, I decided to sit down to watch the film version.  Directed by Terry Gilliam, the movie is incredibly true to the book and feels like what I'd imagine an acid trip to feel like--just like it should.  Johnny Depp (as Raoul Duke) and Benicio del Toro (as Dr. Gonzo) do creditable jobs of playing drug-addled characters about whom one could potentially care, and the many cameo appearances (Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci, Thompson himself) keep the viewer wondering who will show up next.

However, to be perfectly blunt, Thompson's "Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream" was a much better book than movie.  Too often, Gilliam has to rely on narrator voice-overs to communicate what Duke's actions actually mean.  In addition, while the book's pacing is about right, the movie feels simultaneously rushed and extremely looooong, to the point that the viewer is done watching it long before it is actually over.

I would give this movie a C+.

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