All posts by Movie Burner Entertainment

The Movie Burner Entertainment Organisation (M.B.E.) was founded in January 2017 by Executive Producers John Walsh (Editor in Chief), Kevan McLaughlin (Head of Development) and Stephen McLaughlin (Head of Programming) as an entertainment platform to provide Movie News and Reviews. “The Movie Burners” expanded the writing team and introduced experienced writers Chauncey Telese, D.M. Anderson, Michael McGeown, Anna-Maria McAlinney, Steven Wilkins, Philip Henry, John Gray, Gianni Damai and Gerry Brown and Elizabeth Brown (The Movie Couple) on board with a vast knowledge of film and give their view on the latest and retro movie reviews. The Movie Burner Entertainment Organisation (M.B.E.) Official Website (www.movieburnerentertainment.org) hosts the reviews. The Movie Burners Podcast hit the airwaves on SoundCloud and are now weekly shows (Box Office Chat, MBE Heroes, Movie Burner News, The Blog Rundown and The Force Friday Show) that you can find on iTunes & YouTube.

Crawl (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

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Director: Alexandre Aja
Writers: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
Stars: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark

Moviie Couple here! We just saw Crawl this weekend!!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Crawl tells the tale of Haley Keller, (I believe that was her surname even IMBD doesn’t list it) a competitive collegiate swimmer, who returns to her old family home in search of her father, Dave.  Dad, has not been answering his phone and with a category 5 hurricane about to hit the old homestead, Haley is the closest relative to go check on daddy.  Ignoring all warnings from state and local authorities, Haley heads into the storm only to become trapped with dear old dad in the house crawl space!  Flood waters rising quickly!  Help no longer available! And thanks to the local alligator farm flooded nearby, suddenly besieged by alligators from all around!  Will the pair survive the storm without becoming the next Captain Hook?  Will they end up in the belly of a few hungry gators?  Will they drown or be washed away when the levees break?  Will experiencing such a trauma bring this estranged family closer than ever?

Directed by Alexandre Aja of High Tension, Horns and ‪The Hills have Eyes‬ remake fame and starring Kaya Scodelario, from ‪the Maze Runner‬ series and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, as Haley our Apex Predator swimmer and Barry Pepper, also of Maze Runner fame(?) and True Grit as dear ole dad.  This film is basically a two actor show, if you don’t count our reptilian adversaries. A few extended cameos are featured as well, but Haley and Dave vs an angry Mother Nature and some hungry Gators are pretty much what we get here guys.  Is it enough? Are we scared out of our alligator boots? Will we ever be able to drive into a category 5 hurricane and repair our crawl spaces ever again after watching this film? Let’s hop on our airboats, grab some waders and galoshes and let’s find out!
So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  Crawl had me excited to see it in many ways.  I am a big fan of Jaws and I love giant animal creature features in general.  Sadly, Crawl was less Bruce the Shark and more Wally Gator, if you’re old enough to get that reference.  This is no fault of the actors as I found Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper excellent in their respective roles.  They do a lot with what little they are given.  Especially Ms. Scodelario.  From the very beginning, she demonstrates all the emotions of Haley with very little effort.  Her feelings about her swimming career and how she feels about her family are seen all over her face.  Great job, I hope she gets more work in the future.  Pepper is far better than this material and is great as always.

The film is fast moving.  It is probably no more than 12-15 minutes into the film and we are knee deep in aggressive alligators!  They set up the action very quickly and without wasting much time at all.  Despite, the action happening so fast the writers still manage to give us a human story.  You learn quite quickly all the important dynamics and history of this family without it feeling like exposition. My problem with the film is I’m not sure it went far enough.  It is billed as a gruesome horror throwback, but it plays things kind of safe.  We never spoil here at Moviie Couple, so I won’t talk about the details, but suffice to say the film could have been a lot more horrifying had the director or the studio wanted to go that route. Crawl seems to settle for jump scares over and over again and after a while you kind of lose that fear for the characters. The gators were well executed in their creation and presentation, but again after a while they all blended together and became generic threats.  Nothing nightmarish, to truly fear.  Early on one gator gets wounded in the eye and I felt this would give one gator a way to stand out from the rest.  Perhaps this would be the one relentless gator that would not be stopped, but we never see any characteristic like that applied to any of the creatures.

One of the reasons the shark in Jaws is so memorable, is the film boils down to this relentless monster of a shark stalking our heroes. The setup of Crawl was a good one and as the water rises, if they escaped or dispatched a few lesser gators, the big one could have been this type of adversary, unfortunately, none of the gators are ever given this spotlight.  Maybe the filmmakers were going for realism over Hollywood here, but well it is a Hollywood movie, and it’s more than ok to give us the Cinema spectacular gators rather than realistic ones.   Missed opportunity in my opinion.  Even the effects of the bites and wounds, something Aja is known for seemed toned down.  Just safe, not shocking.  Many of the kills were not shown and many characters are killed off screen or at least out of sight.  Again, disappointing in a Aja film.

Well acted, but with a concept that failed to deliver where it promised we were going, I was overall disappointed with Crawl.  I had high expectations and hoped to be scared out of my mind, but it just couldn’t deliver on its set up. One last comment, the most magical thing in this movie is the ever growing crawl space!  When Haley first enters the crawl space to look for her dad, she is on hands and knees crawling through mud and sludge, cobwebs hitting her in the face.  She can hardly lift or move around, but as the waters rise (which should shorten the space, No?) there is more and more room for running, chasing, climbing!  That crawl space is one magical area!  Might be a Wardrobe down there with a way to Hogwarts if you get past the gators.  So with all this in mind, I’m going to have to give Crawl a 3 and that is a very generous 3.  I nearly wanted to give it a 2.5, but it’s far closer to MEH than a waste of money.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  OK, let me say that it is truly I, Mrs Moviie Couple, typing this today.  Some feedback asked why my Hubby always tells you guys what I think?  Well it’s simple, I am a very busy working woman and I just don’t have the time to write/type this stuff up.  Hubby and I love to watch films together and go out, but I usually give him my notes on a movie or we simply talk about it together, but I put HIM to work on the actual writing!  So if I don’t do this every review, now you have an idea of how things run here at Moviie Couple!

I found Crawl to be very suspenseful!  At times it was so much that I found the muscles of my neck tightening in expectation of the next feeding frenzy! Both lead actors were good. They both held my attention. The special effects were all over the place.  Sometimes they are excellent and sometimes not so much.

I found the father and daughter characters just too perfect (Hubby called them examples of a Mary Sue, he tells me you readers will understand) They were experts in everything from First Aid to Gator wrangling, Please!  They were better than the Gator Boys on cable.

And the ending!  No spoiling, but it just ends!  It reminded me of one of my kids video games rather than a movie.  Run, jump, fight, swim get to certain section and …Game Over you win!  What?!  It was horrible!  It was as if the producers ran out of money!  Ok, that’s it, the movie is over.  No more filming money! How about a little closure?  Wrap it up people, is that too much to ask?

I would not recommend going out to see this film, wait for it to be on cable.  It will make for a great scary, but family friendly film for a sleepover or the like.  A few inappropriate words but nothing very offensive.

In conclusion, I have to give Crawl 2 Bills, pretty much a waste of my time and money, but still not the worst film I’ve seen this summer.  I’d rather watch Crawl a million times in a row than ever watch MIB: International even once more, so there is that.

On the way home, We talked about the alligators and whether or not crawl spaces or basements are even available in Florida.  Also, during a hurricane of that magnitude would even a chance of rescue be available?  Things like could an alligator get stuck behind a glass shower partition?  But overall how the movie was just OK.  We may watch Jaws or even ‪Jaws 2‬ on TV this summer for a better creature feature!  Thanks to my 3 and the Mrs. 2 Bills, Crawl ends up with an average of 2.5 Bills!  That’s too bad, because it could have been great!

So until next time, remember if you see a gator heading your way, Choot ‘Em, Choot ‘Em like Landry says on Swamp People or just run, they are really not that fast.  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

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Midsommar (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

 

Midsommar Review

Director: Ari Aster
Screenwriter: Ari Aster
Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Pouter, Vilhelm Blomgren

I went into this film having only seen the poster and I was already thinking – The Wicker Man, and I wasn’t far off the mark. American directors don’t have a good track record with material like this, based on traditional folklore – who can forget the awful Wicker Man remake with Nicolas Cage – but Ari Aster has done his homework and delivered a masterclass in creeping dread against the most picturesque backdrop you’re likely to see on screen this year.

I’m not going to say too much about the plot. I went into this film knowing nothing and that’s the best way to experience it, but if you need a little convincing, I’ll give you the setup from the first 15mins. Dani (Florence Pugh) suffers a tragedy in her personal life and leans on her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) for support. It’s an awkward situation as Jack has been looking for a way to end their relationship, but now feels obligated to remain. To the quiet annoyance of his three male friends, Christian also invites her along on holiday with them to Sweden.

They go to a remote village where a commune exists, and where Christian’s friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) grew up. The guys are students of anthropology so they’re fascinated by this place and relish in it’s history, traditions and customs… to begin with. As soon as we arrive we get the feeling something isn’t right. Even the houses are built at odd angles, like they were designed by the Tim Burton school of architecture, but there’s also unbelievably gorgeous scenery and plenty of beautiful girls, so the guys don’t worry too much.

If you’ve seen enough movies of this ilk, you can probably guess where this is going pretty early on, but that’s not the point. This isn’t a movie that hinges on one big reveal. Lots of little shocking and worrying things turn the temperature up slowly on our tourists, so by the time they realise what trouble they’re in, it’s way too late.

I should state clearly that this is not a horror movie; not by my definition at least. Nothing supernatural occurs in this film, which is how I class a horror, but that doesn’t mean horrific things don’t happen. They do, and they’re very graphic. This film carries an 18 certificate so it has no need to pull its punches in either the blood and guts stakes, or full-frontal nudity.

Apparently Florence Pugh was also in The Falling but I don’t remember her. It was a low budget British film that got lots of critics excited back in 2014 but I thought was a bit of a snooze. Still, fair play to this actress; she’s done well going from The Falling to this, and she’s currently filming the Black Widow movie with Scarlett Johansson. Her career is on the rise and it’s well deserved if her performance here is anything to go by. She is completely convincing whether she’s plumbing the depths of grief, being the awkward fifth wheel on the boys’ trip or off her face on magic mushrooms. I was a little more familiar with Jack Reynor, who was in the feelgood Irish 80s-set musical Sing Street – a film well worth checking out if you’ve never seen it – and he’s also exceptionally good. The rest of the cast were unknown to me but no one drops the ball and the acting in general is of a very high standard.

Midsommar is a slow burning examination of grief with some shocking set pieces peppering an exceptionally well written script. Aster’s previous effort Hereditary was lauded by many horror fans and got some great reviews. I thought it was two-thirds of a great movie that was a bit let down by the last act. This follow-up suffers no such failing. I was gripped from start to finish. It’s a long film, coming in at 2hrs 27mins so don’t have the jumbo soft drink with your popcorn, because you will not want to have to duck out in the final act of this film. You have been warned.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

 

Spider-Man Far From Home Review

Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal

First of all…go see this movie.

Now that that’s out the way, FFH delivers in so many more ways than just action alone.  The unfolding story is pretty much exactly what you would expect if you’re a fan of comics (or animated series) and know the characters enough.  If you’re just a fan of the film series then you’re still in for a treat.

The onscreen chemistry between Holland and Zendaya is awkwardly perfect and so much fun to watch take shape.  The unnerving of character within Parker is deeply felt from the start of the film and almost never let’s up until the movies end.  As for the action, it’s ever present and amazing as Peter and the new hero on the scene, Mysterio (Gyllenhaal), fight to ward off elemental beings  from a different universe before they destroy earth.

With some twists and turns, FFH is a blast and though gone, Tony Stark/Iron Man is present without ever being present. There are two end credits scene, the first of which is quite the jaw dropping eye opener, the second being a bit comical but also pointing in a certain direction obviously to what may lie ahead.

Whether IMAX, standard or 3D, FFH is absolutely enjoyable and a solid end to Phase 3.  Get out and go see it!

Pet Sematary (2019): Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

Pet Sematary Review

Directors: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Matt Greenberg (screen story by)
Starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Obssa Ahmed

There’s nothing like remakes of childhood favourites to make one feel really old. I’m sure most of us have experienced that. Well, how ‘bout a remake of a film you vividly remember seeing in theatres as an adult? Though it doesn’t feel like it, the original Pet Sematary is 30 now years old and I’m forced to accept the hard fact that – in movie years – I’m ancient.

That sobering bit of personal reality notwithstanding, did Pet Sematary actually need to be remade? Probably not, but that’s been said about every movie near-and-dear to someone’s heart. While the 1989 film continues to be held in high regard in most horror circles (and with good reason), it isn’t a sacred cow on the level of Jaws or The Exorcist. Why not revisit the concept with fresh eyes?

Comparisons are inevitable, of course. And for horror fans, results may vary.

First and foremost, this ain’t your daddy’s Pet Sematary, which was more-or-less a faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. This one uses the same basic premise, but takes significant story and character detours along the way, which is ultimately a good thing. Not that all the changes are an improvement, but the last thing anyone needs is another pointless scene-for-scene remake and even fans of the original movie or novel might be surprised how this one plays out.

Some King purists will cry foul, of course. Others might find themselves grudgingly admitting that this one more-effectively captures the oppressive, brooding tone of the novel. That doesn’t necessarily make it scarier – in fact, the film is seldom truly frightening – but it’s more atmospheric and a sense of impending doom hangs over the proceedings right from the get-go. The overall performances are better, as well, especially John Lithgow in the pivotal role of Jud Crandall. Lithgow’s more subtle (and slightly sinister) approach makes the character more dynamic than Fred Gwynne’s slack-jawed yokel from the original.

But comparatively speaking, it all comes down to personal preference. For another example, I found Church the Cat far more intimidating in this version. His matted, mangy appearance really makes it look like the little beast just came back from the dead, not-to-mention the way he stares, similar to how my own cat, Stinky, glares at me when she’s pissed.

While well crafted and atmospheric, I wouldn’t go as far as to say Pet Sematary is better than the 1989 film. The original went where most mainstream horror films feared to tread at the time, arguably rendering this one less disturbing or memorable. Still, the considerable story changes are intriguing enough to justify its existence.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Movie Review By The Movie Couple

Spider-Man Far From Home Review

 

Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Spider-Man: Far From Home this Holiday weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system. Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Spider-Man: Far From Home continues the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) adventures of Peter Parker, high school science student, and of course Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, from his first solo film, Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Now, he’s a bit more famous thanks to his previous adventures and the world apparently knowing his role in both of the last Avenger films (Infinity War and Endgame).  Peter finds himself struggling with his new found responsibility, his attempts to live up to the legacy of his mentor and friend Tony Stark (Iron Man) and his desire to just be a kid.  He knows what he does is important, but the kid in him still longs to hang out and chase the girl he is crushing on.  As the title alludes to, the class is chosen for a tour of Europe!  This seems the perfect time for Peter to slow down and spend some time with the enigmatic MJ, who he so far has only admired from afar. But as fate would have it, a new Earth shattering threat has begun!  Nick Fury and Maria Hill need his help!  And a new costumed figure has entered the field of play, the handsome and charming Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio!  Will poor Spidey save the day!  Will he get the girl?  Can Beck/Mysterio be his new Tony Stark/Iron Man?  Nothing comes easy for  Old Parker, the stakes are high, MJ has a new suitor, and all is not as it seems!  He catches thieves just like flies, but can he save the world and save his love life?

Directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland as Peter/Spider-Man, Samuel L. Jackson (He’s nearly in as many movies this year as Keanu Reeves!) and Cobie Smulders as Fury and Hill, Jake Gyllenhaal as Beck/Mysterio, Zendaya as MJ, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May and yes all the kids and faculty from Homecoming are back as is Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan.  So is this a good sequel to Homecoming?  Is it as advertised, an Epilogue to Avengers:Endgame?   Well, come join Mr. and Mrs Moviie Couple as we give this film a swing and review this latest entry in the MCU saga!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  Let me start by saying I love comics.  If you follow us here at all you already know this, but if you are reading us for the first time you need to know that.  So that being said, I am a huge Spider-Man fan.  I love Tom Holland as Peter Parker.  I think he embodies Peter in the same way Chris Evans does Captain America or RDJ does Iron Man.  He’s just perfect.  I was in love with his first film Homecoming, but I am actually sad to say I don’t feel the same about Far From Home as I did for the first one.  The film starts way too slowly.  It is part John Hughes Wannabe (Homecoming did a far better job of capturing this energy than FFH) and part MCU blockbuster and I feel that is part of the problem.  Not every MCU film needs to be the end of the world type threat to be a success.  Just ask the Antman/Wasp films.  We do not spoil here at Moviie Couple, so we will not explain the villainous plot outright, but if you’ve ever read Spider-Man comics at all or watched a Spidey cartoon like… ever or even really payed attention to the advertising for this film you should be able to guess the bad guy immediately.  So I say that to say this, The villain is not a world threat traditionally and I believe if anyone actually thinks over the plan, at the films conclusion, it really doesn’t hold up.  Shield should have been able to handle this or at the very least if the stakes were set lower it would have made a more credible Spidey level threat, but the filmmakers by this point in the MCU, feel the stakes HAVE to be earth threatening I guess.

 Now don’t get me wrong, they creators try and explain a lot of this away (PLEASE stay for the end credits), but it just doesn’t hold water for me.  The action is ratchet up to Avengers level and as I already stated, I feel it wasn’t needed.  A bit of cinema overkill.  The best action scene comes in the middle where Spidey doesn’t know what’s real or what isn’t!   This fight scene was nearly a comic book battle leaping from the page and almost made the entire movie for me!  But the final fight scene was over done in my opinion.

Gyllenhaal is great as Mysterio and a natural addition to the MCU.  His backstory is tragic and unexpected!  He does a great job!  The stand out actors to me where Holland and Zendaya!  The scenes with Peter and MJ are the best of the film and they seem natural and absolutely believable.  I missed a bit of MJ’s awkwardness in this film, she seemed to go from Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club to the prom Queen everyone is suddenly chasing between movies and it felt unearned, but that’s not her fault it’s the writers. She was great in her role as is Holland.

 It just didn’t balance the Teen Romance and the Superheroics well in my opinion.  The superhero plot was basic,  I do give it points for tying itself into the past MCU films, but it was an underwhelming plot. Great acting and a wonderful soundtrack, nearly save this for me, but there has only been one MCU film I didn’t want to see again after I saw it in theatres, Captain Marvel, now there is two.  Far From Home isn’t terrible, but it isn’t amazing either, and with this cast and this legendary character that is the real shame.

Far From Home is better than MEH and close to Pretty Good, So I’m going with 3.5 Bills.  To be honest, I think Tom Holland can make the perfect Spider-Man movie, unfortunately I’m still waiting for it.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  Remember, it was your votes on Twitter that even got her to go see this film!  She found Far From Home to capture all the ups and downs of High School life accurately.  It really took her back.
She did say this had all the “typical”attributes of superhero films, Superhero Vs Supervillain, hero chases girl, hero has funny sidekick that knows his secret, Hero forced to decide which path he will take in life, Yada, Yada,  Yada…..she was starting to doze early in this film.

But then she was taken in by Tom Holland’s performance.  She finds him absolutely, adorably lovable as Spider-man!  She found herself really liking MJ with all her quirks and mannerisms.  She started to really like them as a couple.  Their relationship kept her interested.  It was very believable and fun despite all the typical explosions and action scenes. She loved them as a couple and found herself paying attention and rooting for them more than if Spidey saved the day or not.  She also enjoyed seeing Aunt May move forward with her life and start a relationship.  She didn’t expect that and liked that addition a lot.

The villain (No spoilers) was slow to get to his point, but she was surprised by his plans and found him to be a clever and sly villain rather than one that simply overpowers their enemies!  She loved how he used his wits and mind rather than brute force to challenge our hero!  Wow, something different in a superhero movie! Who’d a thunk it?
She liked the various Spider-Man costumes used throughout the film and liked how they all served a purpose rather than just selling different toys or Halloween costumes.

But her favourite part was the End Credit scene!  Especially the first one!  It really pulled her in!  They got me!  She said.  I have to see just what Spider-Man is going to do now!  A huge endorsement from the woman who swore off superhero movies just a few weeks ago.  Now that’s a powerful end credit scene right there!

Overall, despite her positive feelings toward a movie she nearly skipped entirely, she still left saying She should have waited till Netflix to see it.  I had to correct her that it would probably be out on Disney +, Netflix and Disney would soon be parting ways.  I think that’s when she called me a nerd and warned me I could walk home.  She gives Far From Home 3.5 Bills.  Not quite Pretty Good, but not nearly as bad as she expected it to be.

On the way home, We talked about the villains plot, the kids, how great Holland and Zendaya were and how despite a lot of good things, the movie just left us uninspired.  I know people will hate this opinion, but we are just being honest.  It wasn’t bad, but man, with all the talent and money on the screen it really should have been …more.  Not quite an Amazing Spider-Man, not a Spectacular Spider-Man either, more like an Almost Pretty Good Spider-Man hence the 3.5 Bills average!  We both gave it the same 3.5 so its was a unanimous decision.

So until next time, remember we are just Your Friendly Neighborhood Moviie Couple!  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ReviewThe tumultuous production was even the subject of a feature-length documentary…in 2002.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni
Starring Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Joana Ribeiro, Olga Kurylenjo, Stellan Skarsgard, Jordi Molia, Oscar Jaenada

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was finally released in 2018, a minor miracle unto itself. Director Terry Gilliam had been trying to get the damn thing made for 25 years, only to be continually thwarted by development hell, false starts, budget problems, legal issues, natural disasters, cast changes and no-small-amount of his own obsessiveness. The tumultuous production was even the subject of a feature-length documentary…in 2002.

Though he kept busy making many films in the interim, Gilliam is probably glad to finally scratch this particular itch…if nothing else, just to spite everyone who turned his labor of love into a decades-long debacle. Some of you reading this might be asking if it was worth the all the trouble, which isn’t really a fair question. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will probably never fully escape the shadow of its production history, and that’s a shame because – baggage notwithstanding – this is ultimately a very good film. Even great in parts.

It helps, of course, if the viewer is already in tune with Gilliam’s quirkier tendencies, since this modern day variation of Cervantes’ novel is a strange, surreal and often funny journey. Anyone familiar with the director is also aware he can be pretty self-indulgent, unconcerned whether or not others are on-board. Because of their unique aesthetic, narrative approach and abundance of dark humor, Terry Gilliam films could be considered their own little genre. Viewed in that context, this is his best work since 12 Monkeys.

That’s not to say The Man Who Killed Don Quixote isn’t without its issues, the main one being that it’s overlong. The story also gets off to a shaky start, with commercial director Tobi Grisoni (Adam Driver) embodying just about every burned-out-genius cliché we’ve ever seen. In fact, these early scenes don’t even feel like they belong in a Gilliam film. However, once Tobi visits the village where he once made a student film about Don Quixote, the film really takes off, both visually and narratively. He’s reacquainted with the elderly cobbler he cast in the lead (Jonathan Price), who has since become convinced he is Quixote and thinks Tobi is Sancho Panza. Several amusing circumstances have the two of them ending up on an episodic series of bizarre adventures, which eventually includes trying to rescue the young girl he once cast in the same film, Angelica (Joana Jaenada), now working as an escort working for a vicious Russian magnate.

That’s the nuts & bolts plot, but what makes it memorable is Gilliam’s penchant for blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Lavishly-produced, the film is alternately dark and whimsical, bolstered by interesting characters and some wonderful moments that unexpectedly transition into the surreal. Most importantly, the journey ends up being lot of fun, something this writer hasn’t been able to say about a Terry Gilliam film in a long time.

Ironically, for a movie with such a torrid past, this Blu-ray features no substantial bonus features covering its history. Perhaps that’s intentional, since enough has already been written and said about it. Besides, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits. It may not rank among Terry Gilliam’s best work, but it’s a fine reminder that he’s got some juice left in the tank.