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random reviews and other thoughts

Pass on Parnassus

It has been over two years since Heath Ledger’s death, and his final film has at last made its way into theaters. “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” stars Christopher Plummer as the title character who travels around London with his sideshow, “The Imaginarium.” Parnassus can guide people’s minds and gives his audience members the chance to visit fantastical worlds dreamed up by their wildest imaginations. One night Parnassus and his band of traveling performers stumble upon Tony (Ledger), who has lost his memory.

We soon find out that thousands of years ago, Parnassus made a deal with the devil. Parnassus promised his daughter’s soul to the devil when she turned 16 and in return was given immortality. As his daughter’s birthday gets closer, Parnassus enlists Tony to help break the pact and save his daughter.

When the movie starts, we are thrown right into the story without first finding out who these characters are or, more importantly, why we should care. The next part of the film – the best part – is mostly spent inside the Imaginarium. These scenes are visually stunning and the most fun for the audience. The ending of the movie is another problem – the exposition that’s missing in the first half is now thrown at us all at once and feels like a muddled mess where you aren’t really sure what is going on or who anyone really is.

“Dr. Parnassus” was only half way through filming when Ledger died; production stopped, and after some clever rewrites three other actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Collin Farrell) were hired to play Tony. This is explained by allowing Tony to change appearance when he enters the Imaginarium. Inside other people’s imaginations he can look like whoever they want him to. This part fits seamlessly and is arguably the most believable aspect of the film.

In order to enjoy “Dr. Parnassus,” the audience first has to forget about silly things like logic and reality. The problem with that is that the majority of the movie is set in the very real world of present-day England. It is hard to believe that Dr. Parnassus is thousands of years old and passes the time by making bets with the devil. The best parts of the film are when we get to go inside the Imaginarium. The world inside of it is truly fantastical, where you believe that anything can happen.

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” is aesthetically interesting, but too confusing and poorly developed to recommend. About one-fourth of the film is kind of entertaining, but overall you can definitely skip this movie.

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