The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 2009 - Sony Pictures Classics
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 123 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Starring: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Collin Farrell
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Music by: Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna
Written by: Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown
Region Code: A/B
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 27, 2010
"A Thousand years ago Doctor Parnassus made a deal with the Devil."
Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) is cursed with a dark secret. An inveterate gambler, thousands of years ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), in which he won immortality. Centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr. Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his daughter reached her 16th birthday, she would become the property of Mr Nick.
Choices. Life is all about choices and as the old Klingon proverb goes, "art imitates life". The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, written and directed by Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), is no exception. Underneath its wandering story line and beautiful production, its core is about choices - good or evil, choose and have your fate decided.
The stakes are usually pretty high when dealing with the Devil, played with a perfectly slimy swagger by Tom Waits. In this case, Dr. Parnassus, brilliantly played by Christopher Plummer, deals his daughter to the Devil. He is now ultimately faced with losing his daughter on her 16th birthday. This brings up my first issue with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Why should we feel bad for Doctor Parnassus for making such a moronic deal with the devil? Make all the deals with the Devil you want, but don't trade your daughter with him, right?? Also, I felt that the movie needed a bit of love in the editing stage, trimming a bit of the self-indulgent fat. It just seemed to take way too long to get out what was really happening in the Imaginarium and why. Like I once told another reviewer (guess who??), I feel some movie's can be like a pop song. Take a 5 minute song, cut it down to 3 minuets and you have a huge hit.
Parnassus' daughter saves Tony, a mysterious man hanging from a bridge, and he joins the Parnassus entourage; using it as a way to escape bad choices and a sordid past. The late great Heath Ledger played Tony. A quick Google search can tell you in detail about his untimely passing during a hiatus in filming this movie (if you have been living in a cave) and how his character was filled by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrel. The three fill-ins play Tony when he enters the 'Imaginarium' of Doctor Parnassus. The Imaginarium is a place where one’s own fantasies mix with Parnassus’ control over their imagination. They get this fantastic experience all for a donation to Parnassus’ traveling sideshow. After one last wager is made in an attempt to rescue his daughter, the first to five people who choose either Dr Parnassus’ or the Devils choice when it is presented to them within the Imaginarium wins.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus reeks of style over substance. Gilliam’s films have always been visual and most the time the story a mere device to get you to a fantastic looking world. This is no exception. Unfortunately the story plays out without enough narrative to really make clear what is happening at times. But hey, it sure looks good…that what seems to really matter here.
Rated PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossless DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 mbps.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a beautiful film with great cinematography, imagination and design. The contrast between the dark and seedy reality and the colorful and spectacular dreamworld looked amazing in High Definition. My only issue was with the black level; at times there was hue to them, making them a bit lighter than what we want to see, especially in a film that spends a lot of the time in the dark. That aside, it was all quite positive. There are moments where the separation of images in the forefront and back gave a 3D-ish facade where fine details are rendered everywhere, especially apparent in the dream sequences. Colors go from realistic and as drab as its real world environment to bold and spectacular, making The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus quite fun to sink into.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is even more wondersome as the video quality. Sony never disappoints, and with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' audio presentation, they have gone beyond what we are used to getting in the home environment. The mix is stellar, dialogue is clear, even through sonically assaulting passages like a rainstorm that has never sounded better. The surround channels are full of life, adding depth to the stunning visuals on-screen. Even with such active surround channels, it is never used without taste and never distracts. The low end has enough backbone to give your subwoofer a workout when used, and is refined enough to fill the room with smooth atmosphere. The easiest way to sum up what I heard is that it is a mature yet bombastic track, and one of then best I have ever heard.
- (HD) Introduction and Commentary with Terry Gilliam
- (HD) Deleted Scenes
- (HD) Heath Ledger Wardrobe Test with Optional Commentary by Terry Gilliam
- (HD) Interview with Heath Ledger
- (HD) Introduction and Commentary with Terry Gilliam
- (HD) 5 Behind The Scenes Featurettes
- (HD) The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam
- (HD) Heath Ledger and friends-Cast & Crew remember their friend
- (HD) "The Drunk" Mulit-Angle Progression Sequence
- BD-Live Enabled
Based on the audio alone, this is a title I will go back to show people when giving a demo of my system. I wont go back to watching the movie as it never took me to the places it tried so hard to do. Maybe its because of the tragedy and ensuing rewrites, but it just didn't feel like a complete thought. If you liked The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' theatrically then its an easy decision to purchase, especially since its packed with extras. If you want to see the final performance of Heath Ledger, as well as a top-tier Blu-ray release, I do suggest giving this a view.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer