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12 Monkeys Blu-ray Review

12 Monkeys.jpg

“12 Monkeys” is a top tier Terry Gilliam film.

In the year 2035, the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland after a virus allegedly concocted by a group called the Army of the 12 Monkeys wiped out 5 billion humans in 1996. Animals rule the world on the surface while surviving humans dwell underground. One such human (James) is a prisoner who has been offered a reduced sentence by a group of scientists to travel back in time to 1996 to find the virus with the hopes of studying it. At first he ends up in a mental institute in the year 1990 where he encounters a fellow patient named Jeffrey who may be involved with the virus. Later on, James is transported back to 1996 where he teams up with the psychiatrist (Kathryn) he previously met at the institute to hopefully discover the origins of the virus.

“12 Monkeys” (which is based on the short film “La Jetee”) may be more of a traditional Hollywood film for the ever creative director Terry Gilliam, but, make no mistake, this is not a by-the-numbers movie. On the contrary, the David and Janet Peoples script has a lot of thought provoking elements about perception, time travel, and sanity. It’s a very heady movie for one that is meant to be so accessible. It’s certainly not the type of movie you would see greenlit much these days which makes the film still look and feel refreshing 23 years later still.

As anyone familiar with the subgenre knows, time travel stories can be tricky to pull off, but this one works. Not only is there a very clear through line, but there’s also a level of ambiguity here. The movie makes you think and leaves you wondering which any good film should do. Of course, given that this is a Terry Gilliam film, the movie is a visual treat. His signature visual style (as well as the specific production design look) are fully on display here making the movie even more immersive if you will.

The cast is in peak form here. Bruce Willis may be going through the motions these days, but this film came out at a time when he still gave a crap about acting. Truly, I think it’s one of his best roles and it’s clear he relished taking on such a complex character. Brad Pitt (who received an Oscar nomination for his work) has a very wild and showy role, but he too goes to town with the role. Madeleine Stowe (who was seemingly everywhere in the 90s) also gives a fine performance here as the psychiatrist Kathryn that becomes pulled into James’ story.


Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The film has been given a restoration from a 4K scan and the stunning visuals finally get the proper hi-def transfer they deserve here. A perfect transfer through and through.

Audio Tracks: 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 Stereo. How do they sound? The 5.1 track delivers crisp audio while the 2.0 track is also admirable.

Extras: * A booklet containing credits, photos, an essay by writer/author Nathan Rabin, and an interview with Terry Gilliam. * “12 Monkeys” trailer * “Appreciation By Ian Christie”- The author/scholar talks about “12 Monkeys” and Terry Gilliam * “12 Monkeys Archive”- A 39 minute collection of stills * “The Film Exchange With Terry Gilliam”- A 1996 interview with Gilliam from the London Film Festival * “The Hamster Factor And Other Tales Of 12 Monkeys”- An 87 minute documentary on the making of “12 Monkeys.” Easily the best and most insightful extra here * An informative commentary by Terry Gilliam and Charles Roven.

October 27, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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