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Time Bandits: Criterion Collection (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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Time Bandits Criterion Collection - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

''That's what I like.  Little things hitting each other!''

- Napoleon, Time Bandits

A child history buff.  Six angry dwarfs spat out from one closet.  One hell of an adventure.  You guessed it.  Time Bandits has returned.  Writer/director Terry Gilliam’s classic fairy tale mixes science fiction with comedy and gives audiences a timeless movie full of historic gags.  Personally, it is a film I keep returning to time and time again.  Rescued from the debris-littered doldrums of Image Entertainment's initial Blu-ray release, Criterion once again swoops in and cleans things up for these Time Bandits.

This manic, free-spirited adventure was co-written by Michael Palin and Gilliam and captures a lot of what made Monty Python so magically hilarious.  In Time Bandits, a small boy named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes ordered society with six dwarfs named Randall, Fidgit, Wally, Og, Stutter and Vermin with a stolen map.  They fall into a void and travel to Napoleonic Italy, Ancient Greece, the forest of Sherwood, and the far reaches of space trying to keep away from the Supreme Being (Sir Ralph Richardson), who is more than a little annoyed at the very face of his swiped map.  Starring Kenny Baker, John Cleese, Ian Holm, Shelley Duvall, Sean Connery and David Warner as Evil Genius, Time Bandits is STILL a righteous and imaginative beast of a film. 

Both hilarious and imaginative (and damn frightening at times), the fanciful movie speaks to the voice in us all who dreams of escape from the adults in this modern society.  The dwarves – mirrored after the unique traits of the members of the Monty Python troupe – are hilariously insane and, at once, otherworldly.  Gilliam is, once again, to be praised for creating some homemade effects that still live up to repeated viewings in a current setting.  The practical effects and physical production values are seriously off the charts; everything hums with an effervescent energy that cannot be toppled or unsettled. 

Acting-wise, the comical theatrics displayed by the towering figures of Ralph, Connery, Holm and Warner on down through the little people - Warnock and the six, damned-if-I-will-whistle-while-I-work dwarfs, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Mike Edmonds, Malcolm Dixon and Tiny Ross – are simply irrepressibly fun and inspired.  There is not a sleeping bone in their bodies.  The cast is fully alive and wide-eyed with genius visions of what this movie is all about.  Ex-Python Gilliam is simply one of the great magicians in cinema, and this fantasy film is evidence of his copious and unrestrained talent.

Time Bandits proves that originality in adventure can never be stolen.

Time Bandits Criterion Collection - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
110 mins
Director
: Terry Gilliam
Writer:
Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam
Cast:
Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese
Genre
: Adventure | Fantasy | Sci-fi
Tagline:
...they didn't make history, they stole it!
Memorable Movie Quote: "If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!"
Distributor:
AVCO Embassy Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 6, 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 9, 2014
Synopsis: A young boy accidentally joins a band of dwarves as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Time Bandits Criterion Collection - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 9, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Locked to region A

Supervised by director Terry Gilliam, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original camera negative.  The restoration was overseen by Arrow Video and performed by Deluxe Digital Cinema in London.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS.   The original soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic track.  The results are wonderful.  Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion and simply shines and, of note, especially delivers with a standard audio English LPCM 2.0 audio track.   The depth of the sound and the detail in the picture is superb.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Director Terry Gilliam, co-screenwriter and actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock provide the film’s hilarious and interesting commentary track.

Special Features:

Criterion presents fans of Time Bandits with new, 23-minute piece, narrated by film writer David Morgan, featuring production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson discussing the creation of the film’s various historical periods and fantasy worlds.  We also get a lengthy (almost 1.5 hour) conversation between Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh, recorded at the 1998 Midnight Sun Film Festival in Finland.  There is also a 9-minute piece of an appearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show from 1981, a gallery of rare photographs from the set, a trailer and a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic David Sterritt.

  • Trailer  (4 min)
  • Creating the Worlds of Time Bandits (24 min)
  • Terry Gilliam and Peter von Bagh Conversation (80 min)
  • Shelley Duvall Interview (9 min)
  • Stills Gallery 

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