Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
  • Time: 118 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Comedy
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire


The hallucinogenic misadventures of sportswriter Raoul Duke and his Samoan lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, on a three-day romp from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Motoring across the Mojave Desert on the way to Sin City, Duke and his purple haze passenger ingest a cornucopia of drugs ranging from acid to ether.


  • This film is not simply about two buffoons out in the desert taking drugs. It can be examined on a much “deeper” level. I think it is obvious that most people cannot understand this movie. In order to better understand it, you have to read the book. What it is about is giving you a glimpse into the madness of probably the greatest drug addict to ever live. To watch someone be insane and love it is a wonderful experience. Johnny Depp is great, Benicio del Toro is excellent. This is a movie that was always destined to be something of a cult classic. Even if you hate it, you’ll understand its greatness.

  • I believe that a film is only as good as the person behind it. And what makes this person, the director truly distinguished is how much of his vision he can incorporate into his film. Terry Gilliam is one such filmmaker who always manages to put his stamp on every film he directs. Gilliam’s films are mostly light-hearted surrealist fantasies that can be described as something between Monty Python and David Lynch. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the most under-appreciated and underrated movies of Gilliam’s career. Based on the book by maverick novelist, Hunter S. Thompson, the film follows the story of Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), an oddball journalist and his psychopathic attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) who travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.

    I’m not sure how faithful the film is to its source-material but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a film that does not seem to have an actual plot, what little plot it does have seems to be on auto-pilot for the most part of the film, just randomly moving forward. There is no character development and the dialogue between the characters makes little sense, but is that really such a bad thing? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a surrealist romp, it’s funny, absurd and makes little sense but the pointlessness of this film is what makes it so entertaining. The film’s absurdity is largely brought to the screen by Gilliam’s kinetic direction. The film constantly hammers you with surreal imagery and I doubt other than Gilliam could have brought something like this to the screen.

    Read Full Review here: https://theblazingreel.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/review-fear-and-loathing-in-las-vegas-1998/

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal novel of 1960s counterculture, is an example of a novel faithfully brought to the screen. It is also, however, an example of faithfulness being a fault.

    The works of the Beat Generation are poorly represented in the cinema and it’s no wonder. Most of their works tend to be unfilmable — David Cronenberg transferred William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch to the screen; the result was part masterpiece, part trash — and there isn’t anything especially appealing about the material. A drug trip tends to be best experienced by the one taking the trip, not those watching it.

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one drug trip after another. When we meet our protagonists, journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), they are driving to Vegas in a convertible full of every drug imaginable. Duke, in the grip of a drug-induced episode, brandishes a flyswatter at imaginary bats and terrifies a young hick hitchhiker (Tobey Maguire). “How long can we maintain?” Duke wonders in voiceover (voiced by Donald Morrow). “How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering at this boy?…Will he make that grim connection when my attorney starts screaming about bats and huge manta rays coming down on the car? If so — well, we’ll just have to cut his head off and bury him somewhere. Jesus! Did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me?”

    During these moments, the film becomes a surrealist farce played at an almost vertiginous speed. The paranoid hilarity continues in the initial Vegas sequences: faces warp, people become literal lounge lizards, patterns on rugs and walls come to life. Salvador Dali meets Luis Buñuel and all seems well. Thirty minutes later, Dr. Gonzo has thrown up again, Duke has gone through more drugs, they’ve confused more people. The film turns monotonous and pointless but, because of director Terry Gilliam’s knack for bizarre visual razzmatazz, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is never boring.

    The project could not have asked for a more perfect director than Monty Python graduate Gilliam. His best films, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Twelve Monkeys, display a uniquely off-kilter sensibility. That sensibility serves the more hallucinatory aspects of the screenplay well. However, a director like Oliver Stone would have retained and enhanced the social commentary that pervaded Thompson’s novel.

    The film is riddled with stars trying to make an impression in breath-long cameos: Lyle Lovett, Gary Busey, Mark Harmon, Christina Ricci, Cameron Diaz and her impossibly beautiful cheekbones come and go. Only Ellen Barkin as a tough broad waitress registers. The talented Del Toro (The Usual Suspects), unrecognizable in his bloated state, does what he can but what is he really trying for? Who is Dr. Gonzo supposed to be?

    Depp, at least, has a bit more to work with and he fashions it into an astonishing performance. Arms flailing, eyes bugging, and with a Charlie Chaplin on acid walk, Depp contributes a performance that is audacious in its physicality. Who else but Depp could combine the grace of a silent comedian with the kamikaze brilliance of Marlon Brando circa Apocalypse Now? The film may disappoint but Depp never does. His latest oddball is another testament to his stature as the cinema’s most eccentric and exhilarating American actor working today.

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