Some of you might know the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, then others of you might known the movie simply called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but one way or another you know about the crazy days Hunter S. Thompson had in Vegas. Hunter Thompson along with his buddy Oscar Zeta Acosta are the credited creators of Gonzo Journalism (Journalism with indistinct lines between fact and fiction), so the book and movie are partially based on their accounts, except replace Thompson with Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Acosta with Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro). The movie is very similar to the book, and Thompson had a large role in the production of the film, even lending Depp clothes and accessories for authenticity.
Raoul Duke and lawyer buddy Dr. Gonzo are sent to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race for a magazine, to prepare for the trip the two have come armed with two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole multi colored collection of uppers, downers, laughers, screamers… Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. It goes without saying that the rest of the movie consists of these two and there adventures around Las Vegas while taking copious amounts of narcotics, and I can assure there is very minimal journalism done.
I want to start off by saying that this is one of the most underrated movies out there, especially by standards of acting. Movies like this don’t get Oscars, and that’s okay, but Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro acted magnificently in this picture, both constantly so messed up they could barely walk. If you can keep up with the slurred and fast paced dialogue it is very witty and entertaining, when it makes sense. I enjoyed how either Duke or Gonzo always had enough sanity too take care of the other one and himself, no matter how much drugs they had taken there was usually always one of them who could think somewhat logically. In the movie Johnny Depp quotes Hunter Thompson as saying, “Too weird to live, too rare too die.” That puts it perfectly for these too, two unique yet utterly irresponsible human beings, just out for a good time in Las Vegas.
If you can get past the initial weirdness of this movie, you’ll love it. With cameos from noted actors like; Christina Ricci, Gary Busey, Tobey McGuire, Cameron Diaz, and more, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is non-stop laughs with a bit of social commentary. Johnny Depp is at the top of his game in this picture, and a worthwhile title for any fan of his to check out.
Presented in 1080p 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Fear and Loathing is one fine looking film. The opening drive through the desert looks fabulous, oozing vivid colors and sharp details; it was good to see the film start off strong from a visual standpoint. Flesh tones look fantastic, with realistic color and no visible softness. The print does suffer from a few scenes with grain and artifacts but only occurs a couple of time throughout the picture.
Universal did a fantastic job with this video transfer, which is good to see for a smaller film like this. The overall feel of the film feels enhanced with the superb visuals, pulling the viewer even deeper into the drug crazy binges.
Fear and Loathing is given a surprising 5.1 TrueHD track and boy does it sounds good. The dialogue sounds great, free of any dropouts or pops, which is great considering the film is completely driven by it. There are some minor balancing issues between the dialogue and music which had me reaching for the volume a few times throughout the movie. A movie featuring a slew of drugs wouldn’t be complete without the song White Rabbit making an appearance. In this scene the audio track makes good use of front and rear channels, placing the music over the front and Gonzo’s scream in the rear. It is in scenes like this that the audio truly shines. When the characters are drugged out the audio will change, almost putting you in these guys shoes, it is a very cool effect. Fear and Loathing‘s audio track is a simple but damn near perfect.
The only disappointing aspect of the disc is the lack of special features. It would have been nice to have some sort of audio commentary for the film, especially with Depp and del Toro. However it is not completely bare bones, as we are given some deleted scenes and an interview with the cast and crew.
- Spotlight on Location – A ten minute interview with the cast and crew of the film. Worth checking out for fans of the film, as it includes interesting interview with Depp and del Toro.
- Deleted Scenes – Twelve minutes of deleted scenes. None really add anything to the film story but are definitely worth checking out.
- Theatrical Trailer
If you are a fan of this movie, I highly recommend this disc, the video is crisp and clean, the audio does the trick, and the features are definitely worthwhile checking out. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a true homage to the novel, and very well portrayed characters of the real life counterparts. Universal went above and beyond on the video and audio of this disc, so check this movie out if you haven’t already. Look past the initial weirdness and just enjoy it for what it is, a look at a couple of ridiculous drug users and their binge in Las Vegas.