Prescott Johanson photograph

Movie Review: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Feb 28, 2005

I come to you today in mourning due to the death this week of the great writer Hunter S. Thompson, who was found on Feb. 20, 2005 in his Woody Creek, Co home of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Thompson wrote several books, none more famous than this one which was made into a movie starring Johnnie Depp and Benicio Del Torro.

The movie opens with our two anti-heroes blasting through the desert in a cherry apple red convertible on the way to Las Vegas with a trunk full of any and every drug you can think of. After taking some acid, picking up a hitchhiker (played by Tobey Maguire ), the story flashes back to fill in the details, that Johnnie Depp's character is actually a writer(Thompson) heading to Vegas to cover the largest motor bike race in the country. The true meaning of their trip, as he and his lawyer (played by Benicio) discuss is to find the American dream, to get right to the heart of it. From here it is pure adrenaline fueled by drugs. They check into the first hotel under a fake name wigging out on high powered acid, go to the Circus Circus in the depths of an ether binge, among other adventures in this assault on the senses and visual delight. One of the funniest parts of the movie is when Depp's character is trying to escape Vegas, running from massive hotel bills and the police only to call his lawyer to find out that they would be covering a narcotics conference amongst hundreds of police. Nothing like a three day mescaline binge to cover a drug conference proper. The cinematography is spectacular, giving you a front line perspective of our anti heroes deranged state throughout the movie and Johnnie Depp and Benecio Del Torro hit the nail right on the head when it comes to playing these characters. For those of you who have read the book, it goes along with it nearly word for word with a few changes here and there. For those of you who haven't read the book, or watched the movie, I suggest that you go out and rent in immediately and enjoy the ride.

The reason I wanted to write this review is the pay tribute to one of my favorite writers of all time. What has come out recently is that he actually shot himself while talking to his wife on the phone, with his son and grandchild in the house. From what his wife said, his health has been slowly deteriorating lately and that he had talked openly about suicide for awhile, wanting to go out at the top of his game. Hunter's first book that got national recognition was "Hells Angeles", a 1960's book he wrote after riding and hanging out with the notorious motorcycle gang for many months. During this period he wrecked his motorcycle badly, and even got stomped by a group of Angeles. He then went on to write a book about the 1972 presidential election and his "to the bone" distaste of Richard Nixon. You see Hunter put himself right into the belly of the beast. He called in "Gonzo Journalism," where the writer is also the main character. In my book nonfiction is always better then fiction and he threw himself into every situation with the nerve of a great warrior, a seeker of truth, even if that truth broke some spirits. I strongly suggest you go out and buy every Hunter S. Thompson book you can get your hands on. He has more crazy stories than I can even begin to get into. One of the other events he is famous for, and covered in many of his essays, is his run for sheriff in a Co town. He ran on "the dope vote" and nearly won, just craziness. His first book, and to my knowledge his only novel called "The Rum Diary" is about a group of people working for an English newspaper in Puerto Rico as Hunter himself did in the late 1950's. As he has said himself many of the facts of the book are true but it is spread amongst different characters and not just the lead character Paul Kemp, and the story is told in such a way that it is fiction. There has been talk for some time about making this into a movie as well starring Depp and Del Torro. Someone has bought the movie rights and is putting it together but apparently dragging their feet. I myself hope this movie comes out and comes out soon, and for that matter all his books are made into movies. I'm not sure there's ever been a man experience so much in a lifetime, in fact, his whole life should be a movie. We'll miss you Hunter!!

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