5 September 2002 | jduke
Visual masterpiece with Thompson's message intact and strong as ever.
I have read countless reviews of this movie that have derided it for everything from glorifying drugs to being unchristian to being boring. Maybe my mind works very much like director Terry Gilliam's (I loved 'Brazil' and '12 Monkeys'), but the last thing I would do to this movie is deride it. It is a brilliant adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's generation-defining book of the same name - it stays very faithful to the events in the book.
First of all, this movie literally glows with Gilliam's eye for detail that he has consistently displayed throughout his career. The sets are so elaborate, one could never take in all the scenery from any number of viewings without slowing it down and watching very closely. The bombardment of the bright, flashing lights of Las Vegas and the bizarre camera angles, as well as surreal sets make for an interesting and entertaining presentation regardless of a lack of coherency and taste. What we have here is a movie riddled with black humor and a horrifying satire of the American dream. I'll admit it takes a very `unchristian' viewpoint to laugh at the `straight economics' of allowing policemen to gang-f**k a girl for $30 a head. Therefore, people bound by a constricting sense of morality should never have watched this movie in the first place. It is for people like me who enjoy living a very un-stoic life (at least vicariously through movies) by having radical ideas and perspectives forced upon them. Fear and Loathing is the embodiment of such a perspective - it is a gruesomely accurate depiction of the bi-product of the often-glorified 60's drug culture. And one thing that countless critics seem to carelessly omit in their analyses is the constant references to the `American Dream.' Johnny Depp (Raoul Duke/Hunter Thompson), in his verbose verbal narrations, makes quite a few references to a desparate hunt for reason behind the madness of not only this `American Dream', but the drug culture as well - "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." - Dr. Johnson (displayed before the opening scene). The problem with the waning popularity of this movie is simply that its design was not meant to appeal to the buttoned-down mainstream. People that want to laugh and cry in a movie theater and then get the hell on aren't the type of people that would enjoy seeing an unjustified drug-induced frenzy on Las Vegas. This movie has everything a critic should be looking for in a masterpiece - magnificent cinematography, lovely acting, shock value, provocation of thought, and a meaning behind it all. To freaks like me it also has immense entertainment value as well. This work will be one of my favorite movies of all time.