Boundless creativity can be a shortcoming if not channeled properly, a fact proven by The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus as it barrels from one extravagantly whimsical set piece to another. Terry Gilliam has never been a director prone to inhibition, and that’s increasingly become both his blessing and curse as a filmmaker, with the latter holding more true of his latest. His first original screenplay since Brazil, the film concerns immortal magic man Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plumber) who, while travelling around modern London in a Howl’s Moving Castle-ish stage-vehicle-home contraption with his assistant Anton (Andrew Garfield) and 16-year-old daughter Valentina (Lily Cole), both continues his age-old battle with the Devil (Tom Waits) and hooks up with a seemingly resurrected amnesiac named Tony (Heath Ledger). As Ledger died during production, Gilliam enlists the help of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Collin Farrell to play Tony when he enters into the Imaginarium, a portal into Parnassus’ mind where dreams and nightmares come to life. It’s a deftly executed workaround, but one that doesn’t improve the proceedings’ helter-skelter messiness. Actors race about, make exaggerated faces, and confuse nervous, anxious mannerisms for quirky idiosyncrasy, all while Gilliam frantically but unsuccessfully attempts to fashion an actual story – something about the Devil coming for Valentina on her 16th birthday if Parnassus can’t best him in a wager over collected souls – out of slapdash, seemingly improvised sequences awash in uneven CG effects. Lionizing the power of the imagination as an ultimate ideal, Parnassus feels like a collection of ideas in search of a sturdy framework or at least a passing connection to reality. As it is, the film feels like a patchwork quilt of prior Gilliam elements from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King and especially The Brothers Grimm, right down to Ledger’s overcooked gonzo turn.