The Brothers Grimm is basically a fun adventure movie but comes off being less fun than, say, The Mummy (1999). We know from the movie trailer and website that the two Grimm brothers are the heroes and have an ally in the form of a girl ranger, Angelika. Together, they have to thwart the evil Mirror Queen’s plan for beauty and save the day. What we don’t know is how the abducted girls are to be used and how the Queen is to be defeated. But from the clues already given, one can guess that a mirror will have the same function the portrait painting in the Dorian Grey story. Despite knowing significant elements of the plot, the movie still manages to pull off enough surprises to keep the suspense and fun.
Movies of this genre typically rely on a story architecture that draws on the metaphor of a mythic journey (as in Campbell’s The Hero of a Thousand Faces) to give the plot substance. Fast pace action sequences (hopefully that are original) are used to smooth over the formularic nature of the story. The problem with The Brothers Grimm is that its action sequences aren’t fast paced enough or very original. Because of this, compared to say The Mummy (1999), it’s not as fun even though it has more depth.
Furthermore, the two Grimm brothers and Angelika get special treatment from the antagonists. The dangers they faced aren’t as real for them as for the others accompanying them. Somehow, they aren’t targeted for death blows unlike their companions. So they survive because of the pulled punches and this reduces the tension.
These flaws make the movie less fun than it could have been.
In updating the old folktales, a positive revision on gender roles is made. The two brothers Jacob (Heath Ledger) and Will (Matt Damon) saves the damsels in distress at the end but not before Angelika rescues them from certain death. Some might say, such a revision is not unnecessary. In the old folktales, when the villian is a witch, the witch kicks ass and reigns undefeated for a long time. However, this revision positions feminine power in a positive rather than negative role.
Towards the end of the movie, there is one shot that gets your attention. It starts with a Crucifix that is positioned at the upper right side of the frame. The colour of the sunshine is enhanced in that it is more golden than normal. The camera then moves downwards diagonally to the left, not just sideways, as if the golden light is emananting from the Crucifix. The camera then proceeds to show the heroes and the saved victims running towards to the village. So where did this Crucifix come from? There is no church spire nearby. The subtext here is not a humanist one. In the end, the Mirror Queen is defeated by an enchanted axe, brawns, brains and not least of all, a love that will sacrifice itself, true love. But it is also hinted that the brothers were watched over by divine forces. So is this an explanation for the pulled punches witnessed earlier?
An analysis of this instantiation of the mythic journey will reveal spoilers, so it is left in the analysis section. But as a guide, the two brothers are one unit and can be taken to represent Conscious Reason (Will) and Intuition (Jacob). Angelica represents practical wisdom, Calvadi (Peter Stormare) as the process of disbelief to belief and General Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce), a closed scientific mind and the Mirror Queen, the prime adversary who wields of occult power.
Overall, The Brothers Grimm remains a fun movie despite the two flaws undercutting the fun factor. I wasn’t bored, but it could have been a lot more exciting.
Analysis portion is after the review section at here.