Movie Review – Time Bandits

1981 Handmade Films

Three and Half Star

Time Bandits

“Mom…Dad…it’s Evil, don’t touch it.” – Kevin

 

Terry Gilliam, member of Monty Python and creator of the wacky animation sequences on that show, has directed some truly inspired and totally bizarre movies over the years. Time Bandits was his third major directorial effort after co-directing the brilliant Monty Python and the Holy Grail and going solo on the not so brilliant but still entertaining Jabberwocky.

Time Bandits tells the story of a young lad in England named Kevin who gets caught up in the strange shenanigans of a group of little people that have stolen a wondrous map from The Supreme Being. This map shows the locations of doorways that allow one to travel through time and space. It seems these doorways were a leftover from when the universe was built being a rush job and all. These thieves are planning to use the map to plunder the greatest treasures throughout the ages and have decided to let Kevin tag along on their morally questionable and  not so legal adventures. Meanwhile The Supreme Being is pursuing them to get his map back and Evil himself is looking to get his hands on the map so he can escape his imprisonment in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness and take over the universe with his superior knowledge of car phones and digital watches.

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The doors are not necessarily in the best locations.

Nice and straightforward story huh? Not much about Gilliam’s movie are very straightforward and when he is on his game he makes great movies. For Time Bandits Gilliam was not quite at the top of his game but he still scores quite often throughout the movie. There are a couple of dead spots where the movie grinds to a halt but it gets going again pretty quickly. There are odd characters and concepts popping up everywhere and it’s all great fun. The cast is good and the photography, music, and special effects are not so shabby either. There are a few sequences where the lack of a bigger budget are evident but it doesn’t detract from the fun at all.

This was the first movie in Gilliam’s “Trilogy of Imagination”. Time Bandits was followed by the absolutely extraordinary Brazil and fun if meandering The Adventures of the Baron Munchhausen. I would recommend all these movies to anyone who enjoys quirky and imaginative fantasies.

The good:

The cast is terrific from the lead characters all the way down.

The band of mighty thieves.

The band of mighty thieves.

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David Warner is awesome in the role of Evil. I always enjoy his performances.

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Michael Palin and Shelly Duvall are funny as hell as Vincent and Pansy, two lovers with the knack for being interrupted by the thieves no matter what era they’re in.

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Ralph Richardson as the well dressed Supreme Being.

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The Supreme Being in scary mode.

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John Cleese as the absurdly dressed Robin Hood.

As is the case with most of Gilliam’s movies the visuals are amazing and off the wall.dvd_snapshot_01.18.32_[2013.04.13_20.35.57]dvd_snapshot_01.39.19_[2013.04.14_15.29.01]dvd_snapshot_01.38.54_[2013.04.14_15.28.41]

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The map is cool. I liked it so much I got one to hang on the wall in my office!

The Map

Mine’s a little cleaner.

The not so good:

The movie really gets slow when the gang is having dinner with Napoleon.

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God is this scene slow.

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This scene is pretty dull as well.

In the pan and scan format of this movie you can see the floor of the filming stage in this scene.

In the pan and scan format of the movie you can see the floor of the filming stage in this scene.

Random thoughts and observations:

The end of this movie is totally demented and one of my favorite movie endings of all time. Here it is along with the end credits featuring a song by the late great George Harrison:

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4 thoughts on “Movie Review – Time Bandits

  1. My favourite fact about Time Bandits is that in the script they wrote that Agamemnon should look like Sean Connery, or at least as close to Sean Connery as they could afford. And what do you know? The real McCoy showed up.
    It’s funny that you think it’s slow at times. When it first came out, it didn’t feel like that, but films are much faster these days so it probably suffers by comparison.

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