Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Absurd Comedy, Black Comedy, Buddy Film, Road Movie  |   Release Date - May 22, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Matthew Tobey

Just as it seemed impossible to make a cinematic adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's words from the classic 1971 account of post-1960s America, it's quite a task describing such a visual film in text. It simply has to be seen to be believed and understood. And that is one of the film's biggest successes, turning the words into images -- original, vivid, unforgettable images that pull the viewer into the movie whether they get it or not, whether it's a dream, a drug trip, or a warped recollection of the past. But Terry Gilliam's brilliant visual style would be wasted if not for the incredible performances of Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. Both play their characters with the eyes of strangers in a strange land, despite the fact that they are in their home country. Judged by many to be pointless and even boring, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is, as the original book was, a reflection of an unsettling, unpredictable time. It's lack of a concrete traditional story arc may turn some off, but for those who can look beyond that, it is hilarious, scary, manic, and poignant, a film that is pure anarchic entertainment as much as it is compelling insight.