Newest Review: ... Johnny Depp and Benico Del Torro really perform here, I can imagine playing characters off their head constantly on drugs must be quite d... more
Drugs - the cause of and the solution to a Vegas bike race with your lawyer and lizard people?!
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (DVD)
Advantages: Theme, delivery, acting, effects
Disadvantages: Will likely spin you out, couple of slow moments
Raoul Duke is on his way to Las Vegas to cover a bike race. As a journalist, it's kind of what he does. You know, go to different places and cover different things...only seizing an opportunity is too good to miss and we're never sure exactly what his interest in the bike race actually is, or if it even exists! He has brought along with him his lawyer, Dr Gonzo, and we first meet the two of the them as they are speeding across the Nevada desert on their way to Vegas, dodging a flurry of killer bats among other strange obstacles.
They pick up an innocent hitchhiker who gets more than he bargained for, the strange unfocusing eyes of Raoul and the constant fighting between Dr Gonzo (who is driving at this point) and the killer bats who seem to swoop down on him incessantly soon making him wish he'd continued walking. You see, the bats aren't real: they're hallucinations. That Raoul and Gonzo can both see them remains a mystery, but the mind works in mysterious ways when it's fuelled by all manner of illegal drugs. It turns out that the trip to Vegas isn't the only trip they're on, if you catch my drift...
What follows is a sequence of events, some jumbled up so that we're definitely not presented anything in chronological order, that serve to show two things: the first is that this plot is as shallow and unimportant to the film as you can get with a plot, and the second is to show just how messed up you can get when trying all manner of drugs in a short space of time. Following the film, you do get a semblance of understanding that our two trippers (yes double meaning intended) arrive at their destination and indeed spend some considerable time there. Director Terry Gilliam goes wild with the sets, flipping between the world we see and the hallucinatory vision the two main characters get. The hotel and its casino are at one point full of some sort of lizard aliens instead of humans, and perhaps the most entertaining factor of this is that Raoul doesn't seem fazed by it - just another person to talk to, regardless of how they look or whether they speak or grunt in reply!
To say it's the sort of film you understand when it finishes would be lying - you clearly won't have the slightest clue as to what half of the film's content was all about. All you do need to know is that most of what you see won't actually be what is happening - it'll be the drug fuelled vision of Raoul and Gonzo. The book is based on Hunter S Thompson's novella of the same name, with Johnny Depp playing the main character Raoul and Benicio Del Toro stepping into the shoes of Gonzo. Depp is stellar, getting into character and presenting himself as a drug addled nutter very easily - it's no wonder he was a shoe in for Captain Jack Sparrow when you look at this. He plays drunk and drugged extremely well. Raoul is a thin disguise for Thompson himself, indicating an autobiographical nature to the tale itself, and with Gilliam taking a fantasy approach to the special effects, you do wonder what was going on in the author's head when the novella was first conceived.
Gilliam is well known for his effects when directing, the fantasy element something of a forte for him. Here, the effects really do open you up to the mind's potential, and I'd say the film merely goes to advertise what we could imagine and envisage with the help of a drug induced spin out session. Whether this is Thompson or Gilliam talking with what we see on screen is to be decided, but it's visually impressive to say the least. It also serves to provide some humour, particularly where Depp is concerned. Del Toro is very good as Gonzo, the random nature of his character and the semi-control he seems to maintain despite the situation providing the difference between the two characters; but it's Depp as Raoul who steals the acting honours here for me. The charm and calm is present externally, through acquiring a hot convertible through illegal means, barging the queue to get his hotel room, walking into an anti-drugs convention and everyone turning round to see him with coke dust on his nose, and the various scenes in the rooms in the hotel and out in the desert. There's a certain sense of him being perpetually on the brink of falling over the edge and not coming back - expertly acted.
But then I'd expect no less from Depp, or Del Toro - or in fact Gilliam to be honest. I was happy to watch this film, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn't understand the vast majority of what was going on. It's certainly the sort of film you'd be best off watching a few times to try and pick everything up. Essentially, it's an exploration not just into what drugs can do to you, but also what they can do for you, or make you think they are doing for you. It explores the human psyche as well as building up and then shattering the American Dream, before then making you question whether it was all a dream in the first place. Confused? You will be, but stick with it. It's prime entertainment, with some comical moments, some weird ones, a couple of times when it drags a touch, but plenty of variety and quality. For that, it's well worth watching, and more than once. Recommended.
Summary: Two men travel to Vegas to cover a bike race, fuelled to the brim with all manner of drugs