I love Terry Gilliam. I know that film critics aren't supposed to open a review with such an obvious and subjective opinion, so call the press police. I'm guilty. From his Monty Python work to Time Bandits to Brazil and all points thereafter, Mr. Gilliam has been one of my very favorite storytellers and movie-makin' educators. His silliness and darkness, surreality and sweetness, his sense of adventure of endearing youthfulness ... he's just one of those filmmakers who truly "speak" to me, and I know I'm not alone in my affection for his varied and eclectic works.
Having said that, I now say this: I haven't thought much of the man's last three films. I've tried (and tried) to foster an affection for Fear and Loathing..., but for the most part it just won't take. I struggled through Tideland at the Toronto Film Festival one year and quite simply did not like the film. At all. And The Brothers Grimm felt, to me (of course), like surface-level Gilliam that had much of its soul torn out thanks to too many cooks cooped up in Gilliam's own kitchen.
So there's where I'm at, Gilliam-wise. Oh, except for his new film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which feels sort of like a favorite uncle just burst through the door, smiling and loaded with nifty presents. (So his last few visits weren't so hot; he's still your favorite uncle.) To this lifelong Gilliam devotee, Imaginarium feels like it was cut from the same imagination cloth that also produced The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and (at least in part) his classic adventure Time Bandits. Only this time out, the filmmaker has the limitless capabilities of CGI to use as a palette -- and if you've seen how imaginative Terry Gilliam can be with "practical" effects, then you'll probably be eye-dazzled by Imaginarium's finest moments.