Universal Pictures | Release Date: May 22, 1998
7.7
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 180 Ratings
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139
Mixed:
21
Negative:
20
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10
VerdugoAug 20, 2012
An audio-visual Masterpiece. It shows the devastating consequences of drug abuse mixed with brillant acting. This movie is greatly underrated and I guess some people voting it down don't understand it.
3 of 3 users found this helpful30
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10
godslonelymanNov 6, 2010
Truly a masterpiece. I appreciate the extreme divisiveness of opinions about the film, but simply don't understand it. Faithful adaptation, and nearly perfect film.
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
All this user's reviews
8
BrianW.Jul 5, 2004
The point to watching this movie is not to watch it on ones own terms. It is not a "film" in the sense of most film. It is something different, something out of control and visually assaulting. It destroys rationality and disturbs its The point to watching this movie is not to watch it on ones own terms. It is not a "film" in the sense of most film. It is something different, something out of control and visually assaulting. It destroys rationality and disturbs its viewers to the point where it is near-appalling. There is a story, but it is so addled that there need not even be one. This is why so many acclaimed movie reviewers describe it as "shapeless" or a narrative without "trajectory" -- in the world of linear (and even non-linear) stories, something this nonsensical is hard to swallow, let alone understand. It is perhaps the only movie that is purposefully confusing, in a way that evokes not only the futility and insanity of drug use but of the feeling of the 60s. What starts out as a lighthearted, funny adventure quickly degenerates into a sordid, disgusting affair. The images assault the viewer, leaving no time for breathing room; no scenes of sanity to grapple with the meaning of it all. It's like a Jackson Pollock painting on film spread over two hours. It's obstensively a disturbing film, yes, but without a internal morality as can found in such classics as Taxi Driver or A Clockwork Orange - small bits of intelligent prose bubble up like flashes of insight through the haze of this celluloid drug but none so pervasive as to try to tie the film together with a moral anchor. This, though, is what the movie is about. To find a moral center, to fix the narrative with a message, would perhaps make this movie much more accessable; but it would rob it of what primarily IS the central message, that drugs lead nobody to any kind of real central message. After first seeing the film Hunter Thompson, who wrote the novel, described it as not only a "masterpiece" but as an "eerie trumpet over a lost battlefield." This is, primarily, what it is. It is a movie that takes us through the 60s, as it progressed, through the eyes of the 60s and, in a parallel way, it takes us through the stages of a drug user through the eyes of one. What starts off with a roar - the engine of the cherry red convertable blasting along the parched backdrop of Nevada - and eases into a funny, wild-eyed drug movie slowly begins to go sour as time progresses. In much the same way the acid generation kicked off in the mid-sixties with a great deal of naivete and innocence, we see the effects of the drug but they are silly effects, simple distortions that are often hilarious - in other words, nothing to be taken seriously. After about twenty minutes though one gets the feeling that all is not well and although our narrator and his attorney seem so lost in the trip that the looming prospects of dissapointment and dissillusionment seem like vague spectres with no real backing we, the viewers, see it forming on the horizon like the dust cloud from the motorcycle race the narrator is covering. Slowly these spectres begin to mount, as the trip becomes more uncontrollable - just as it became in 1968 when the summer of love hit its high point. The confusion begins to set in at a horrible pace, and people scramble for the exits just as Raoul Duke does after his stint covering the Mint 400, only to be driven back the demons the drugs have created. The demons take the form of a terrified hitchhiker, an abused girl and other things that, early on in the trip, seemed like innocent fun. Finally, while the trip peaks it reaches a breaking point. For Duke there is only so much excess that can be exercised before it all comes crashing down, for America there was only so much acid. The final drug montage can be compared to the fatal Rolling Stones show in which a handful of men were stabbed. The beggining of the end. When it passes we are left sifting through the ashes, finally able to see clearly all the horrible things that have transpired - still clouded by the fog of drug. So yes the movie is heavy. Yes it is confused and yes it is hard to watch. It is also so like real life, so grounded in experience that were it appealing and light-hearted it would be all gloss and no substance. Instead it opts to take the road that will turn-off almost all viewers, who are content only to watch movies as they know movies, never willing to see one for what it is: An experience, a time out of time, much like the decade it mourns and celebrates. Luckily though, it is also a very funny movie. Johnny Depp is so deeply characterized (and it has been said so dead-on perfect) as Thompson (or Duke, if one prefers) that his mannuerisms transfix us. Benicio Del Toro is beyond vulgar, pushing the limits of outrageousness as he vomits, abuses and dopes his way to Vegas, to LA, and then back to Vegas. These are not pleasant people, they are not going to be redempted and they will not attempt to make sense of this strange trip. The behavior offends, but it also amuses. This is pure Gonzo journalism in the truest sense - a base account of the sights, sounds and sensory experiences of one of the wildest trips ever taken. There is method to the madness, the madness is simply laid on so thick that it must be peeled back in layers for the method to make itself clear. Gilliam is at top-form, proving once again to be an auter of the visual medium. Every scene in the film is so chock full of images, juxtapositions, strange behavior and background action that each time one watches the movie more becomes apparant. It is a visual assault, it attacks the viewer until one is on the verge of sensory overload and then it recedes with a whimper -- the force of the drugs themselves too much for even our brave narrator to handle. All in all, Fear and Loathing is quite an accomplished piece of art -- just very heavily misunderstood. Perhaps if people would simply let the movie surround them and take them over, without worrying about trying to fit it into a form or a standard, the intelligence and importance of it would be recognized. It is not a film for everyone, but for those who can do that it is a film far apart from any other ever made. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
[Anonymous]Dec 6, 2004
Cleary a number of critics and other reviewers have never seen the world through hallucingenic eyes. The first time I watched this movie I had not either. I watched it up until the "lounge lizards" scene as a sophomore in high school, before Cleary a number of critics and other reviewers have never seen the world through hallucingenic eyes. The first time I watched this movie I had not either. I watched it up until the "lounge lizards" scene as a sophomore in high school, before I really knew anything about drugs. I had no opinion of drug use one way or the other, but the fact is if you've never tripped, this movie is not for you. I had to turn it off because it is disturbing and confusing--but so is tripping on mushrooms or acid. Once you've had that experience, you can focus more on the film's central message and ignore the puking, anti-social behavior and idiosyncratic compulsions of hallucinogenic drug use. Watching the film is a lot like a trip: it's not always funny, not always happy and it can be pretty scary at times, but if you put in enough mental effort to at least try and make some sense of it, you WILL be rewarded in the end. Depending on your openmindedness, your reward may be a valuable discovery of the world or yourself, or just another nightmare that haunts those who missed the point. I've not yet read the book, but I have it on my "on deck" shelf. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
AsierR.Apr 5, 2004
Do they know what's all about? Marvellous and dark trip to the heart of an american dream.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
LukeH.Mar 1, 2008
This is a very good film the reviews do not do it justice. It is not a stoner film it is a unique, funny, provocative and disturbing view of America, and with Terry Gilliam unique directorial vision it's a powerhouse film.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
8
JoshL.Apr 6, 2008
An excellent movie IMHO, but I'm really not here to discuss this. I love this film and I really could not care less what some others have said about it. I would, however, like to point out the fact that whenever someone makes a spelling An excellent movie IMHO, but I'm really not here to discuss this. I love this film and I really could not care less what some others have said about it. I would, however, like to point out the fact that whenever someone makes a spelling or grammatical error that supports the movie they are insulted by being called "druggies that can't tie their own shoelaces". Pity. And Mark B., I find it rather interesting that you caught marvellous, but failed to catch such atrocities as "congrajulations" and "unphathomable". Really, top notch work. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
BuzzMay 3, 2008
I love this movie. It's funny and provoking and I can imagine, it's just what Mr. Thompson had in mind when he was writing his novel.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
7
BigSallyMar 9, 2005
This movie is just so damn fun. Completely bizarre humour, consistently amusing dialouge, and killer visuals. Sure, the plot goes nowhere, the characters are one dimensional, but who cares when you can't stop laughing?
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
benjiAug 16, 2005
Just brilliant, one of the best movies of all time!
1 of 1 users found this helpful
8
EMSullivanAug 24, 2005
Unique, addictive movie that isn't quite for everyone. The first half shines with great performances and oddball humor. The second half doesn't quite have the same qualities and might leave people feeling rather uneasy, but it does Unique, addictive movie that isn't quite for everyone. The first half shines with great performances and oddball humor. The second half doesn't quite have the same qualities and might leave people feeling rather uneasy, but it does have it's moments. Mark B. seems like the kind of person who would stand to argue that there's only one way to spell "color." Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
GraemeS.Jun 26, 2007
An amazing film. Incredible acting, suitably psychedelic visuals and, surprisingly, hilarious and profound all at the same time.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
M_elleSchulzAug 24, 2007
I am not a drug addict, in fact, at 35, I have never once partook in any unprescribed narcotic. I am not a fan of drunks, in fact I tend to leave parties early to avoid them. A huge fan of Depp (this is his best ever, if not most popular, I am not a drug addict, in fact, at 35, I have never once partook in any unprescribed narcotic. I am not a fan of drunks, in fact I tend to leave parties early to avoid them. A huge fan of Depp (this is his best ever, if not most popular, performance) and of Hunter Thompson (an irrepressible writer of modern literature), I felt I was adeptly escorted into a world of excess and depravity I could never, in my sobriety, have entered on my own. Depp animates Thompson's paranoid and hilariously caustic commentary on the socially acceptable 'swine' and their equally, if acceptable, excesses. I bought the ticket, and LOVED the ride! Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
MichaelC.Mar 4, 2008
Hunter S Thompson's stunning book is marvelously captured on screen. A great performance by Johnny Depp. A great commentary on American life, past, present and future.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
ChrisJ.Jul 15, 2004
All i have to say about this movie is that it is genius by far my favourite movie in every way.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
7
JohnoDec 10, 2005
Could never match the book, what that would be be impossible. Terrys' baby is vastly under appreciated. (I'd better check my spellings now since a schoolteacher below believes that the only way have a valuable opinion is be able to Could never match the book, what that would be be impossible. Terrys' baby is vastly under appreciated. (I'd better check my spellings now since a schoolteacher below believes that the only way have a valuable opinion is be able to spell. Whatever - weren't you at the police convention in Vegas in 1971?) Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
MarkS.Dec 13, 2008
Pure quality, a perfect intimidation of the great doctor!
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
NF123Aug 19, 2010
Based off my favorite book, directed by one of my favorite directors, starring on of my favorite actors, what could go wrong? Very little! The film is incredibly faithful to the book and in my opinion one of the great underrated movies. WordBased off my favorite book, directed by one of my favorite directors, starring on of my favorite actors, what could go wrong? Very little! The film is incredibly faithful to the book and in my opinion one of the great underrated movies. Word of advice, if your planning on watching the film READ THE BOOK FIRST. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
ryancarroll88Aug 27, 2010
A surprisingly accurate adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's odyssey of self-revelation, self-destruction and the American Dream. In fact, I'd say the movie is better than the book because Gilliam's visuals gives a sensory overload that reallyA surprisingly accurate adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's odyssey of self-revelation, self-destruction and the American Dream. In fact, I'd say the movie is better than the book because Gilliam's visuals gives a sensory overload that really packs the in(s)anity into form. Thankfully, the hilarious antics of Depp and del Toro really follow suit. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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8
geedupJul 4, 2012
This film is EXTREMELY underrated on this metascore thing. But not surpirsing-people usually really like this movie or are incredibily irritated with it. Obviously the visuals take you by surprising which will add to your experience or makeThis film is EXTREMELY underrated on this metascore thing. But not surpirsing-people usually really like this movie or are incredibily irritated with it. Obviously the visuals take you by surprising which will add to your experience or make you ill. Additionally, the dialog is a bit disjointed. But the two elements together define this film. Definite cult classic. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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6
SpangleSep 26, 2013
I admit, I almost turned this one off early on into the film, but I am glad I made it all the way through. The directing really makes you feel as if you are under the influence and really puts you into the mindset of Duke (Johnny Depp'sI admit, I almost turned this one off early on into the film, but I am glad I made it all the way through. The directing really makes you feel as if you are under the influence and really puts you into the mindset of Duke (Johnny Depp's character). As for the acting, it was quite good as well and Depp really played the role of the constantly under the influence writer very well. Only gripes were the utter lack of character development, which certainly hurts. The seemingly all over the place plot would normally be a gripe of mine as well, but in a film like this, it certainly makes a ton of sense. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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0
JoseMay 17, 2006
Can I give it a negative score? The worst movie that I almost saw. The only movie that I've ever seen that I could not finish watching.
1 of 3 users found this helpful
3
HorlanJun 7, 2012
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a total mess. During the 95% of the movie, it uses all the most obvious ways to show hallucinations, trying to hide the lack of ideas and good screenplay. This is the worst Terry Gilliam's production -Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a total mess. During the 95% of the movie, it uses all the most obvious ways to show hallucinations, trying to hide the lack of ideas and good screenplay. This is the worst Terry Gilliam's production - pointless, disgusting and incredibly stupid. And even Benicio del Toro is not able to help it. Expand
1 of 5 users found this helpful14
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0
AnthonySAug 5, 2008
This movie is downright awful. You can sit down for two hours,which feels more like two years and wonder what the point of this is?There is no wit,no fresh views. Most stunning is that these characters should have been dead about two minutes This movie is downright awful. You can sit down for two hours,which feels more like two years and wonder what the point of this is?There is no wit,no fresh views. Most stunning is that these characters should have been dead about two minutes into the film as the mix of alcohol and drugs surely would have killed them. Finally this movie is all hype.....yet is one of the worst films I've ever watched. Expand
0 of 3 users found this helpful
3
PatC.May 5, 2004
Initially quite interesting, but like drug use in general it becomes tedious and just kinda trails off into nowhere.
0 of 3 users found this helpful
1
GaborA.Oct 16, 2004
After years and years of trying. Movies after movies in the likes of 12 Monkeys and Brazil. Terry Gilliam finally does it. Top five worst movies of all time for fear and loathing. Congrajulations. And this one his his worst yet by far. How After years and years of trying. Movies after movies in the likes of 12 Monkeys and Brazil. Terry Gilliam finally does it. Top five worst movies of all time for fear and loathing. Congrajulations. And this one his his worst yet by far. How the man responsible for the Monty Python movies is responsible for this mind bogglingly terrible movie in a series of shit is unphathomable. This movie needs to come with a warning: Not to be enjoyed by anyone not actively ODing or capable of tying their shoes. Expand
0 of 3 users found this helpful
0
CamApr 27, 2005
Worst movie ever made.
0 of 3 users found this helpful
0
MarkB.Jun 21, 2005
The fact the someone who can't spell "marvelous" gave this a 10 epitomizes the kind of people who recommend this trash. If you like quality movies you will hate it; if you like to laugh more than once during a flick you will hate it.
0 of 2 users found this helpful
0
JonathanQuimbyOct 21, 2006
A classic to those who were to stoned to realize they were watching a movie. A favorite to teenagers who saw the twisted cover art and decided to stop there. Brought Thompson's work to a new generation of "fans" who spell genius with an O.
0 of 3 users found this helpful
10
jd_cocoMar 26, 2012
One of my favorite crazy movies to watch. It's so entertaining and Johnny Depp does a great job capturing his role in this movie. This movie will always be one of my favorites.
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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8
ThatCooperGuyJun 25, 2015
Well then, that was a movie. Aside from the fact that it's one of the weirdest and trippiest movies I've ever seen, I found it entertaining and funny.
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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10
SantaFeb 3, 2010
Two genius: Thompson and Gilliam = Master-piece !!!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
PeterS.Jan 27, 2007
Spinning visuals and disoriented dialogue.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
NinjaMafiaApr 4, 2004
This is one of the best comedies I have ever seen. Fear and Loathing brings together everything that one should have from a comedy. Hilarious moments, good storyline, and some deeper underlining message. The storyline to Fear and Loathing is This is one of the best comedies I have ever seen. Fear and Loathing brings together everything that one should have from a comedy. Hilarious moments, good storyline, and some deeper underlining message. The storyline to Fear and Loathing is pretty basic, Hunter S. Thompson and his attorney go to Las Vegas to work on a story about a race. However, they pack up a briefcase full of all kinds of drugs. When they finally get to Las Vegas, their work seems unimportant, the only thing they care to find out about is the American Dream. Thus begins a madcap tippy adventure into the drug world. The storyline really keeps you into the movie while throwing around the message of days gone by here and there. The comedy is great. From bat country to lizard people, this is all hilarious. Believe me, you will get it once you see the movie. Plus, Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro play some of their best roles. Depp really takes home the gold with his perfect portrayal on Thompson, who mind you is very real. Depp even went so far as to spend a few months with Hunter just to get down his personality, and it paid off big time. That's not to say Del Toro isn't equally magnificent. He even gained some weight just to make his character a bit more disgusting. Fear and Loathing takes you into the ultimate ride and is currently on my top ten favorite movies of all time list. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
ChrisWJan 4, 2006
Man, this is a genious movie based on a genious book written by a genious author, hard to believe not very many people can actually understand his work. Rest in piece Hunter.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
EonOct 25, 2006
One of those few movies that deserve a 100 out of 100, and this, of course makes it one of the most underrated movies of Metacritic. I really think it had something to do with the fact, that Drug War is the best-selling war nowadays ( those One of those few movies that deserve a 100 out of 100, and this, of course makes it one of the most underrated movies of Metacritic. I really think it had something to do with the fact, that Drug War is the best-selling war nowadays ( those of you who didn't get it - this movie makes fun of your life style, maybe that is why you hated it so much, I mean, it must really hurt too look inside damaged self). Overall - a kind of masterpiece, that is really RARELY made. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
BlakeJ.Mar 11, 2007
I love it. It holds a special place in my heart. I was won over in the first 10 minutes...right after Johnny looks around all glazed eyed and says "We can't stop here...this is bat country!" A precursor to druggie movies as we know them.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
SamA.Dec 20, 2008
A brilliant capsule of what Gonzo is all about to the new Thomsonite. Beautifully disgusting, lovable, hate-fueled and terrifying all at the same time.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
LukeSOct 11, 2009
This movie is nothing less than a work of art, and in my opinion is Johnny Depp's best film, no questions asked. I find it discouraging that many critics failed to grasp the true aim of this movie, which is not to explore drug use (in This movie is nothing less than a work of art, and in my opinion is Johnny Depp's best film, no questions asked. I find it discouraging that many critics failed to grasp the true aim of this movie, which is not to explore drug use (in which case it actually would suck), but rather to explore the shift in the American culture and spirit that was taking place at the time. Great movie, and GREAT acting by both leads. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
YogaP.Apr 27, 2009
This is not a pretty movie; it's often unfunny; it's very frightening and fairly accurately portrays the dementia and paranoia that can come from drug abuse. (Yes, I've know people that crazy.) I don't know if this is This is not a pretty movie; it's often unfunny; it's very frightening and fairly accurately portrays the dementia and paranoia that can come from drug abuse. (Yes, I've know people that crazy.) I don't know if this is really a movie you like; you just want to watch it two or three times a year to see what you missed the last time. This might be great to show to kids if you want them to avoid drugs: Honey, you want to behave like that? I feel about this the way I often feel about David Lynch films: Not sure II really like them much but compelled to watch them again. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
SlingS.Dec 23, 2006
First off i would not recommend watching this while under the influence of any serious drugs (the dinosaur blood orgy comes to mind but there are other scenes as well). um, phenomenal book I'd read it first. best ever reflection on what First off i would not recommend watching this while under the influence of any serious drugs (the dinosaur blood orgy comes to mind but there are other scenes as well). um, phenomenal book I'd read it first. best ever reflection on what the American dream really amounts to. if you are a religious republican voter you will hate this film, which is why i love it. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
PatrickJ.Jun 15, 2008
A masterpiece. A stunning combination of visually pleasing effects that bring to life the hilarious anarchist antics of a genius subculture outlaw.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
cwp62492Nov 14, 2011
A masterpiece, simply the epitome of excellent acting by Johnny Depp who lived with the character he portrays for a period of time, just to ensure a competent imitation of him.
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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1
oxanaJan 3, 2015
The single half-star comes from Johnny Depp being in the movie. That's it. Without him, I wouldn't have watched this to the end. Not my type of movie, at all. I didn't find a proper plot, and the hazy, drugged images were so annoying... Oh,The single half-star comes from Johnny Depp being in the movie. That's it. Without him, I wouldn't have watched this to the end. Not my type of movie, at all. I didn't find a proper plot, and the hazy, drugged images were so annoying... Oh, well, perhaps I should watch this again, just to be sure I got it right the first time ;) Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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10
Anti-JarheadJul 31, 2012
Meaningful, thoughtful, and excellently crafted. Movies like this help us explore ourselves and reality we create. This one additionally make this in a very entertaining way. If only You can keep up with the movie... Just like with NaturalMeaningful, thoughtful, and excellently crafted. Movies like this help us explore ourselves and reality we create. This one additionally make this in a very entertaining way. If only You can keep up with the movie... Just like with Natural Born Killers it's best to watch it couple times. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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8
StaticSpineOct 18, 2014
It's pretty hard to describe the movie since it mostly consists of drug hallucinogenic adventures of two guys, but yeah, the movie is great. Terry Gilliam could capture and show the sense of madness and surrealism here. A must-watch!
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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8
KristianBKAug 13, 2014
Funny, psychedelic, sometimes a mess, but interesting enough to keep you in this weird trip through the movie. Hard to watch, but nevertheless, one of the movies you just have to give it a try. and in the end there are two possible outcomes:Funny, psychedelic, sometimes a mess, but interesting enough to keep you in this weird trip through the movie. Hard to watch, but nevertheless, one of the movies you just have to give it a try. and in the end there are two possible outcomes: you either love it or you hate it. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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10
SlaveOfSelfFeb 3, 2014
simply amazing. watched so many times and it still gives me joy. i suspect only ones that dont like it, are the ones that are 100% against drug use. and to those i say, it clearly shows the bad side of bad trips that are results of overuse assimply amazing. watched so many times and it still gives me joy. i suspect only ones that dont like it, are the ones that are 100% against drug use. and to those i say, it clearly shows the bad side of bad trips that are results of overuse as well, and in no way glorifies it after all. movie has a massive points on many levels, just not all can spot them apparently. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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8
gamer2424May 18, 2016
A polarizing film. My first viewing left me confused, and I hated it. After a second viewing with better knowledge on the novel and the director's style, I began to admire it. It's a great performance from both Depp and del Toro, and itA polarizing film. My first viewing left me confused, and I hated it. After a second viewing with better knowledge on the novel and the director's style, I began to admire it. It's a great performance from both Depp and del Toro, and it captures the insanity that drugs can lead to. I also loved the soundtrack. Expand
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8
GregePorterAug 31, 2015
Bottom line: Well done and very trippy movie.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the story about journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo. Duke is on an assignment to report on a big motorcycle race held outside of Las Vegas. The
Bottom line: Well done and very trippy movie.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the story about journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo. Duke is on an assignment to report on a big motorcycle race held outside of Las Vegas. The two decide to make the trip a drug fueled journey to search for the American Dream.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the adaptation of the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson, if you aren’t familiar, was the Rolling Stone journalist responsible for inventing “Gonzo Journalism” which focuses on the experience of an event rather than event itself as in the case of traditional journalism. The product of Gonzo journalism is something of a stream of consciousness: half fact, half fiction.

This is a really rather grotesque movie and, quite honestly, I didn’t really like it. At the same time, it was quite a good movie. That sounds contradictory. If it was a pretty good movie, why wouldn’t I like it? Well, the guys in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are taking an obscene amount of drugs. It’s a trip that might very well kill them. It isn’t a happy experience and the movie illustrates that well particularly through the cinematography.

The acting in this film is really good. I was initially turned off because I saw Johnny Depp acting like Captain Jack Sparrow or the Mad Hatter or Tonto and I for one am sick of drunken Keith Richards. But this is the first movie that he ever acted this way. With that in mind, I’ll let it pass. And after watching some interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, I found Depp’s impression spot on. Benecio Del Toro’s performance as Dr. Gonzo is stellar. The pair jump between the effects of the drugs seamlessly as naturally as if one drug wears off to be replaced by another.

Throughout Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas we never really know what is true and what is a drug induced hallucination. You can say this type of thing about lot’s of movies but here it transcends the movie itself. When I said that Thompson’s work is half fact and half fiction, I really meant that we can’t really take very much of it as “fact”. I always thought Fear and Loathing was about Hunter S. Thompson and his friend going to Vegas but, really, it is about the invented character, Duke, going to Vegas. I wasn’t particularly familiar with Hunter S. Thompson so I watched a 1970’s or ‘80’s BBC documentary about him. The documentary maker, like so many of Thompson’s fans, confused Thompson with Duke. The filmmaker even took Thompson the Vegas hoping to see the cult hero in action. Thompson then spoke about this tendency. When he is invited to speak at a university, are they hoping to hear Raoul Duke or Hunter S. Thompson? I originally thought that the premise, a motorcycle race, was the “fact”. I made the mistake of reading fiction as “non-motorcycle race” instead of “everything.” The identity of Raoul Duke, the film’s narrator, adds another layer of fiction to the film; even though Depp looks and sounds like Thompson, he is Raoul Duke.

To add another layer of uncertainty, consider the marketing campaign for this film. According to an interview I heard, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas focused heavily on TV spots and the majority of them featured Cameron Diaz even though she's in the movie for about a minute. It feels like the truth of this movie is muddled into fiction on every level; from the story to the marketing, nothing is reliable.

Would I recommend Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? You might want to pass, for the time being, if you are looking for something light and fun, but other sure; it is a weird and disconcerting movie but enthralling.
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7
The3AcademySinsJun 7, 2016
A very divisive, but honest film. The cinematography is purposefully disorienting, but once you get used to its hectic pace, there is a lot to enjoy here. Strong performances by its actors and a thought provoking script really propel thisA very divisive, but honest film. The cinematography is purposefully disorienting, but once you get used to its hectic pace, there is a lot to enjoy here. Strong performances by its actors and a thought provoking script really propel this movie to great heights. Expand
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