According to The Brothers Grimm, the eponymous siblings weren't academics with a thing for fairy stories but a pair of squabbling con-merchants with a tasty line in fake exorcisms. Until, that is, they find themselves the reluctant heroes of their own bedtime story and discover there really are wicked queens and enchanted forests. Perfect material, you might think, for Terry Gilliam's brain of perpetual invention. But despite occasional flashes of dark genius, he hasn't laid a golden egg.
When they're eventually rumbled by the authorities, Will (Matt Damon) and Jacob (Heath Ledger) set out on pain of death to find out why young Gretal look-alikes have been going AWOL from the local forest. The resulting struggle between the peasants' pagan superstitions and the cold rationality of Napoleon's occupying military gives Gilliam an excuse to give one of his recurring themes another airing. But his Pythonesque style of humour is getting as creaky as the pythons themselves and many of the jokes fall gingerbread man flat.
"DELICIOUSLY CREEPY MOMENTS"
Originally down for release last year, it may well have gone stale in storage. The trouble is that Gilliam is rarely as bold or daring when he's working from other people's scripts, and Ehren Kruger's isn't as revisionist as it wants to be, becoming muddled in its own fantasy logic. That said, a handful of deliciously creepy moments will send spines a-shivering while both Ledger and Peter Stormare make the most of what they're given. It's half-decent fantasy hokum with a few laughs thrown in, but you'd be better off watching Time Bandits again.