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"Brilliant and inspired" is how I view The Fisher King, so I'll be starting things off on a positive note.  (You can read my review here, and reviews from other fans here).  But in the interest of being balanced and fair, I am including the scathing reviews as well (yes, every film, including The Fisher King, has them!)  In fact, I will endeavour to include excerpts and links to every single review I can get my mouse to click at.  

 

THE RAVES

"A wild and vital movie."

-David Ansen, Newsweek

 

"A 10!  A stunning fantasy."

-Gary Franklin, KABC-TV

 

"Original, fresh and wild!"

-Gene Shalit, The Today Show

 

"This is truly a great movie!"

-Joel Siegel, Good Morning America

 

"Superb, off-kilter comedy."
Shannon Harvey, Sunday Times (Australia)

 

"An astonishing comedy...a bold, unique and exhilarating cinematic trip."

-Bruce Williamson, Playboy

 

"Outstanding...one of the year's best films.  Witty, wise and totally unpredictable."

-Jeffrey Lyons, Sneak Previews

 

 

REVIEW EXCERPTS

(With links to the full reviews, where available)

 

AllMovie.com

By Matthew Doberman

 

(4 out of 5 stars)

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The Fisher King offers a highly effective treatment of the time-honored themes of guilt, responsibility, and redemption.  No one could say the film lacks in originality:  there's enough tragedy, conflict, and Arthurian allusions in Richard LaGravenese's script for several films.  ...  Though it may be overly ambitious, The Fisher King proves to be a rich, satisfying mix of humor, fantasy, and emotion. 

Austin Chronicle

By Marjorie Baumgarten

 

(3 out of 4 stars)

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The Fisher King is a fanciful spiral of mythology, madness, cynicism and salvation...combines lofty aims with loopy flights of indulgence...it takes on way too much (is it a comedy, is it a fantasy, is it a parable, is it a morality tale?)

Bosting Reviews

By Roger Crow

 

(very positive)

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A sublime comedy drama which is filled with many notable scenes.  ...  Best thing is just curl up on the sofa with the tipple of your choice and let the magic wash over you as the King of cinema reveals his greatest treasure.

Chicago Reader

By Jonathan Rosenbaum

(positive)

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Enormously entertaining and wonderfully acted but compromised New Age comedy.  ...  Visually impressive, frequently pretentious, and extremely fluid as narrative (the 137 minutes sail by effortlessly), this mythic comedy-drama presents Gilliam as half seer, half snake-oil salesman and defies you to sort out which is which.

Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert

 

(2 out of 4 stars)

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The Fisher King is a disorganized, rambling and eccentric movie that contains some moments of truth, some moments of humor, and many moments of digression.  ...  Ruehl, with a deep voice and decolletage, is the most reasonable presence in the movie, a woman who loves even when it is not convenient, but can be pushed only so far.

Deseret News

By Chris Hicks

 

(3 stars out of 4)

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When the film is funny, it's very funny.  When it's touching, it's very touching.  But when it careens wildly out of control, which is all too often, it is most annoying.  ...  The Fisher King is not like any other movie you're likely to see very soon, but if you can get by its frustrating elements, there is much to savor.

DVD Verdict

By Sean McGinnis

 

(very positive)

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No, and I mean no single director working today can set a fantastical mood on film like Terry Gilliam.  ...  I recommend this movie if for no other reason than the performances.  The acting is genuinely superb.

Edinburgh University Film Society

By Roger Crow

 

(positive)

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As well as the central story of Jack and Parry we are also introduced to some wonderful supporting characters, and Gilliam's idiosyncratic direction has its usual visual panache.  The film shows Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges at their best, and Bridges' performance bears favourable comparison with that in American Heart, where he plays another down-and-out role.

Films on Disc

By Stuart J. Kobak

 

(A/B+)

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A story of love and redemption, The Fisher King succeeds on many levels. With its mythological sub structure there is a call to a return to an understanding of chivalry.  There is no denying the visual power of Parry’s hallucinations.  But it all boils down to The Fisher’s King’s understanding of friendship and the priorities of life.

Green Man Review

By Grey Walker

 

(positive)

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Terry Gilliam directs The Fisher King with an expert hand.  He portrays Parry's delusions by blending them seamlessly into the busy street life of New York. 

Laramie Movie Scope

By Robert Roten

 

(3 out of 4 stars)

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The Fisher King is a modern, eccentric and imaginative retelling of the legend of the Holy Grail.  ...  This film showcases [Gilliam's] daring and imagination as a filmmaker without becoming too busy and frantic.  The film's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses.

Light Views

By John Larsen

 

(very positive)

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There isn't a false note in The Fisher King, which continues Gilliam's fascination with the Holy Grail.  Gilliam's mythic imagery and ability to mix reality and fantasy (the Grand Central Station waltz is one of the most magical moments I've ever seen on film) make The Fisher King a unique, life affirming film.

Mountain Xpress

By Ken Hanke

 

(3 stars out of 5)

Gilliam goes overboard.  All the clever bits wear out their welcome.

Movie Vault

By Vadim Rizov

 

(very positive)

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Morally bankrupt, unimaginative and an assembly-line product, The Fisher King is still a damn sight more watchable than it ought to be.  ...  Gilliam shot low, half-succeeded, and moved on to the stunningly romantic and intense 12 Monkeys.  All that we learn from this film is that you can't keep a good director down.

Ned Depew Website

By Ned Nepew

 

(very positive)

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The Fisher King is a movie that works powerfully to tell a story of mythological proportion. It illuminates basic human fears and tragedies with horror and humor, and offers the possibility of redemption, not through some saccharine Hollywood cliché, but through a process of honest, sometimes painful, communication. It is a movie that offers to change the way we look at our lives.

NetFlix

By James Rocchi

 

(2 stars out of 5)

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A lot of people really like The Fisher King, and I'm just not one of them.  ...  The Fisher King isn't bad -- just manipulative, guilty of utilizing homeless characters as wacky scamps and a lot less than I expect from a genius like Gilliam; it's a squandering on the level of having Michelangelo paint dogs playing poker.

New York Times

By Janet Maslin

 

(positive)

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What emerges, in the end, are a clever premise that has been allowed to go awry and several performances that are lively and unpredictable enough to transcend the confusion. Mr. Bridges, always a fine intuitive actor, has never displayed a greater range.

Nick's Flick Picks

By Nick Davis

 

(B-)

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Brave in its ambitions but unable to sustain its energy, director Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King is a good film that could have been, but isn't, a very good one.  ...  Not that flamboyance is always such a bad thing, and while its energy level remains high, The Fisher King's florid acting and lavish visuals provide the wild ride we expect from Gilliam

Nitrate Online

By Dan Lybarger

 

(3 stars out of 5)

A bit sappy, but Bridges and Williams are terrific.

Not Coming to a Theatre Near You

By Rumsey Taylor

 

(very positive)

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The love story at the base of The Fisher King is one I find uniquely felt.  These are not characters with the Hollywood standard:  polished good looks and paper-thin personalities.   These characters, the feelings and impulses attributed to them, are more real.

Rec.arts.movies.reviews

By Sarah M. Elkins

 

(very positive)

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A wild and original, warm, funny, bitter, frightening, and human tale which rises way above its "redemption" genre.

Rec.arts.movies.reviews

By Rob Ferguson

 

(very positive)

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There are few directors working today who fully grasp the nature of film as a visual media, and even fewer still who have a distinct visual style which is evident through-out their work...Terry Gilliam is one of those directors, and his latest film, The Fisher King, is certainly evidence that his unique style remains a fundamental part of his filmmaking.

Rec.arts.movies.reviews

By Frank Maloney

 

(very positive)

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The Fisher King has a much more linear plot than "real" Gilliam movies, but it has its moments of magic and wonder.  You've probably heard about the waltzing scene by now; this scene is managed with such smoothness and deftness to make you gasp with admiration of the director's technical skill, as well as the auteur's vision.

Rec.arts.movies.reviews

By Kevin Patterson

 

(3.5 stars out of 4)

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The Fisher King is a long, hard-fought, and ultimately well-deserved victory for romanticism and imagination over today's cynical brand of pragmatism.  ...  Too many films nowadays stage an uplifting finish without the story or characters to back it up.  The Fisher King is one movie that earns its happy ending.

Rolling Stone

By Peter Travers

 

(positive)

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At its most outrageously entertaining, the film sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.  It also bloodies itself in Gilliam's favorite battles:  imagination versus logic, love versus lust, art versus commerce.  ...  The Fisher King restores our belief in the power of movies to transform reality, even temporarily.  So what if it's not perfect?  It's magic.

Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review Database

By Richard Scheib

 

(4.5 stars out of 5)

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The idea of a modern reworking of the quest for the Holy Grail re-enacted with homeless on the streets of New York has an eccentricity that is quite in line with the bizarre sense of humour of Terry Gilliam.  ...  Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese...is a master of characterization and Gilliam provides him with an ensemble cast which work beautifully together.

Spirituality and Health

By FAB

 

(positive)

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Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams are convincing as two wayward souls who meet when they are both at the end of their ropes.  ...  The Fisher King bears witness to the universal search for wholeness.

Tech, MIT

By Chris Roberge

 

(very positive)

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The Fisher King is far from being a disaster.  Most of the movie is genuinely funny, and the 21/4-hour running time goes by rather quickly.  But the simplicity and conventionality of the plot eventually undermine all of the film's attributes, ultimately resulting in a disappointment.

Teen Movie Critic

By Roger Davidson

 

(4 stars out of 4)

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Bridges proves once again that he's one of the greatest actors in American cinema today, and Williams shows that he indeed does have a true dramatic range. The show-stopping performance comes from Mercedes Ruehl, who won an Academy award for her role as Bridges bizarre new age girlfriend.

TV Guide

By TV Guide Staff

 

(2.5 out of 5 stars)

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A grandiose, overblown attempt to fuse the medieval myth of the Fisher King with a story of alienation and redemption in contemporary Manhattan.  ...  There are redeeming factors; a scene in which bustling commuters in Grand Central Station are suddenly transformed into waltzing couples has undeniable magic.

Variety

By Variety Staff

 

(very positive)

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The Fisher King has two actors at the top of their form, and a compelling, well-directed and well-produced story.  First-time screenwriter Richard LaGravenese's lively, detailed original script deftly delineates the top and bottom rungs of human existence in Manhattan.

Vice Central

By Austin Hambrick

 

(3 stars out of 4)

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Terry Gilliam has the most unique visual style since Kubrick.  ...  Had The Fisher King been a little better sewn together, this could easily have been one of the best movies ever made.

Washington Post

By Desson Howe

 

(very positive)

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Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King is an odd beast.  In this case, that's something to treasure.  A modern epic that fuses myth with hard-edged reality, it's a one-of-a-kind, thoroughly engaging experience.  ...  In this, Gilliam is in his element -- leaping effortlessly from one world to another.

 

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