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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
BLU-RAY disk
Apr 21, 2011 By: Mathew Plale
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas order
Director:
Terry Gilliam

Actors:
Johnny Depp
Benicio Del Toro


Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Terry Gilliam's adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's landmark piece of Gonzo journalism, about reporter Raoul Duke (Depp) and his attorney (Del Toro)'s drug-fueled adventures in Las Vegas.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
They were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold. They--Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo--were seeing bats and one toke over the line, respectively, hurtling toward Las Vegas with a Chevy trunkload of drugs of every kind.

Written by Hunter S. Thompson, pioneer of Gonzo journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of those books that you read only when ready and then plow through without blinking. This is its cinematic adaptation, filmed by Terry Gilliam, who uses an abundance of tilts, distortions and other in-camera tricks to keep up with the manic pages of the book, once thought to be absolutely unfilmable.

The loose narrative follows Thompson’s alter ego, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp, a perfect mimic), and his attorney/sidekick Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro, a belly the size of the moon), on their way to Las Vegas with the former assigned to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. He does. But then…

Nixon-era paranoia! Lizard orgies! A Streisand-loving Christina Ricci! It’s all a bad trip, a complete clusterwhatever that maybe should have never been made. So is the movie. While this is about best possible visual representation of Fear and Loathing… that could have possibly been put to celluloid, the overall film still lacks the adrenaline and meaning that the source offers in, on and around every page.

The whole thing is so confused and borderline psychotic that there’s really only one prescription: purchase five copies of the book, read two of them out loud and forget, at least temporarily, that Gilliam even tried.
THE EXTRAS
Audio commentary with director Terry Gilliam: Gilliam gives a detailed and lively commentary regarding various aspects of his film, covering topics such as capturing the Las Vegas feel, the editing and so much more.

Audio commentary with stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi: The best of the three tracks, this one also has the trio (separately) discussing a variety of subjects, many of which were surprisingly not mentioned in Gilliam’s commentary.

Audio commentary with author Hunter S. Thompson: With the aid of producer Nabulsi (and plenty of noise), Thompson chimes in (read: mumbles) on his thoughts regarding the book, the film and more. Not surprisingly, it’s near-impossible to understand about 40% of what Thompson says.

Depp-Thompson Correspondence (14:07): Recorded in 2002, Depp reads a handful of letters between Thompson and himself which were written during the film’s production. Perhaps as expected, nobody reads Thompson quite like Depp.

Hunter Goes to Hollywood (10:39): Director Wayne Ewing, who directed 2003’s Breakfast with Hunter, follows Thompson while he visits the set of the film. This intimate footage captures Thompson in a hotel with Depp and Del Toro, watching filming/shooting his cameo and, of course, yelling “Fuck you!” at a beeping car.

“Not the Screenplay”: This section is divided into two pieces: “Audio Discussion of WGA Dispute” and “A Dress Pattern.” The first, with Gilliam, co-screenwriter Tony Grisoni and producer Laila Nabulsi, covers said dispute, with attention on the Writers Guild of America and would-be director Alex Cox. The second is a short film directed by Gilliam.

Oscar Zeta Acosta: Dr. Gonzo: Packaged here are three pieces devoted to the attorney/activist, portrayed in the film by Benicio Del Toro. First is a “Biographical Photo Essay” by his son, Marco; second is The Revolt of the Cockroach People, which captures Acosta reading a chapter from the titular work at the 1974 Festival de Flor y Canto; third is “Thompson on Acosta,” which features Thompson reading from his introduction to a pair of Acosta’s books.

“Breakdown on Paradise Boulevard” (7:43): This excerpt from a 1996 spoken-word CD of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has director Jim Jarmusch portraying Raoul Duke, the late character actor Maury Chaykin as Dr. Gonzo and actor Harry Dean Stanton as the narrator.

Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood (50:20): This excellent 1978 British documentary follows “Thompson and illustrator Ralph Steadman in a road trip to Hollywood by way of Las Vegas.” It offers observations on both Thompson and his character of Raoul Duke, footage of Thompson in his element, interviews (some of which has been reused in later documentaries, including Alex Gibney’s Gonzo), readings from Thompson’s work, and more.

Deleted Scenes: There are three here, titled “The Mint 400,” “The DA from GA” and “The Hardware Barn.” Each was selected by Gilliam and “assembled from original work-print footage.”

Rounding out the special features are Storyboards, Production Designs, Stills Gallery, a Ralph Steadman Art Gallery, the Trailer, and TV Spots.

Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 28-page booklet with an essay titled “A Pint of Raw Ether and Three Reels of Film” by film critic J. Hoberman, the text from the jacket copy of Fear and Loathing… and “Instructions for Reading Gonzo Journalism” by Thompson.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While Universal already released Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on Blu-ray last year, it was seriously lacking in most departments. Thankfully, The Criterion Collection picked up the slack, recycling all of the great bonus material from their 2003 DVD and upgrading the video and audio. For fans, this is absolutely worthy of a purchase.
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6:46PM on 04/21/2011
You either love it or hate it. Too bad the person doing the review is the latter. Personally, I loved Fear and Loathing. One of my top 10 all time flicks. With lots of over the top drug use, reptiles on boos, and christina ricci; we got a winner! And a polar bear f*ckin a waitress!
You either love it or hate it. Too bad the person doing the review is the latter. Personally, I loved Fear and Loathing. One of my top 10 all time flicks. With lots of over the top drug use, reptiles on boos, and christina ricci; we got a winner! And a polar bear f*ckin a waitress!
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1:27PM on 04/21/2011
gotta disagree with the film review, i think it's absolutely brilliant. still well written, though, so cheers on that.
gotta disagree with the film review, i think it's absolutely brilliant. still well written, though, so cheers on that.
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12:54PM on 04/21/2011
I'm half and half on this. The movie is ok, and I agree with the review. I still think that Where The Buffalo Roam is a bit more entertaining movie, due to Bill Murray's performance, as well as Peter Boyle. That one always gets overlooked in favor of this one, when it's really not all that. Everyone just likes to focus on the visuals and everything in this movie, but there really isn't much substance to it. Where The Buffalo Roam has more of a story to it, rather than just them doing a
I'm half and half on this. The movie is ok, and I agree with the review. I still think that Where The Buffalo Roam is a bit more entertaining movie, due to Bill Murray's performance, as well as Peter Boyle. That one always gets overlooked in favor of this one, when it's really not all that. Everyone just likes to focus on the visuals and everything in this movie, but there really isn't much substance to it. Where The Buffalo Roam has more of a story to it, rather than just them doing a bunch of drugs in the desert. This is an ok movie, but that's all it is. But whatever floats your boat I guess. It's all what you're in the mood for I guess.
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