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12 Monkeys 4K UHD Review

“12 Monkeys” is one of Terry Gilliam’s best films.

Set in the year 2035, the world has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland in which human survivors dwell underground while animals roam the land. Back in 1996, a virus created by a group called the Army of the 12 Monkeys wiped out a majority of humanity. The story centers on a prisoner in 2035 (James) who has been offered a reduced sentence if he cooperates with scientists and travels back to the year 1996 to locate the virus so that scientists can study it. His trip doesn’t go as planned as he arrives in 1990 and winds up in a mental institution where he encounters a patient (Jeffrey) who may later be involved with the virus and a psychiatrist (Kathryn). He later does end up in 1996 where he teams up with Kathryn this time to try and discover the origins of the virus.

When I last reviewed “12 Monkeys” 4 years ago, we were all living in a very different time. Now, in the age of the pandemic, the sci-fi drama based on the short film “La Jetee” takes on an eerie new light. To say this 1995 film has stood the test of time is an understatement as it becomes increasingly more relevant. Not only does it deal with a virus, but it also explores another increasingly important subject in today’s day and age with mental health. Yes, the David and Janet Peoples script also takes time travel and the future, but it’s the grounded elements that stick.

Filmmaker Terry Gilliam may be known for working outside the Hollywood system, but with “12 Monkeys” he managed to create something truly artful within the studio space. He brings his own style, visuals, and rebellious nature to this Hollywood production and created something truly memorable in the process.

The cast is aces. A young Brad Pitt clearly had something to prove here with his role as Jeffrey and, obviously, he made a big impression. Not only did he land an Oscar nomination, but his work here caused his career to skyrocket. Bruce Willis gives one of his all-time best performances here as James. This is Willis in his absolute prime. Madeleine Stowe isn’t a name you see often anymore sadly, but she also delivers a fine performance as Kathryn.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 2160p in Dolby Vision. How does it look? The new 4K restoration from the original negative maintains the grain while providing a nice upgrade. The picture clarity is quite evident here. Is it worth a double dip? It all depends on how much you treasure this film. If you didn’t grab the previous Arrow Video Blu-ray release though, this 4K release is certainly worth the pick-up. 

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The Lossless 5.1 track is impactful while the 2.0 track also delivers. Note: Optional English subtitles are also included.

Extras:
* Theatrical trailer
* A booklet featuring credits, restoration notes, photos, an essay by author Nathan Rabin and an interview between Terry Gilliam and Ian Christie.
* “Appreciation By Ian Christie”- The author and film scholar delves into the movie and discusses Terry Gilliam.
* “12 Monkeys Archive”- 39 minutes of still photos.
* “The Hamster Factor And Other Tales Of 12 Monkeys”- A feature length making of documentary with a plethora of behind-the-scenes footage and insight into the production. The best extra feature here.
* A quality commentary by director Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven.
* An archival interview between film critic Jonathan Romney and Terry Gilliam from the 1996 London Film Festival.

May 3, 2022 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , ,

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