Blu-ray Review: TIME BANDITS (1981)

PrintE-mail Written by J.D. Gillam

Review: Time Bandits / Director: Terry Gilliam / Cert: PG / Screenplay: Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam / Starring: John Cleese, Sean Connery, Ian Holm, David Warner, Craig Warnock / Release Date: Out Now

Over thirty years after its original release, Time Bandits finds its way to high definition in an edition bursting with extras, and it’s just as mental as you remember.

Kevin, a schoolboy with one heck of an imagination, finds himself being dragged along on a time travelling adventure with a group of little people who have stolen a map that points towards gateways through which they can travel and meet up with famous people from history. On their travels, they meet Napoleon, Agamemnon and even Robin Hood, but their plan is to steal as many valuables as possible. At the same time, they are being chased by a disembodied head that belongs to The Supreme Being, who wants the map back as well as being tracked by Evil, who wants to escape from where he is trapped in limbo along with his idiotic henchmen.

Looking back at the film now, it amazing to see just how dark it is, especially as it was intended for an audience made up of children. There are some really creepy moments for the audience to witness and you can really see the Monty Python influence throughout. It’s as if the Python crew were given the keys to Willow, seven years before Ron Howard helmed Lucas’ box-office misfire. Virtually everything can be traced back to the Flying Circus TV show and it is easy to spot where Gilliam has taken his own skills and outrageous humour used in the Python animation and utilised them on screen. Everything from the ogre and his wife on their ship – that just so happens to be strapped to a giant’s head – to the Jim Broadbent presented game show, “Your Money or Your Life” is pure insanity and makes for a children's fantasy movie that just takes that extra step towards crossing the line of what is acceptable. As a result, even after all this time, it’s bloody brilliant.

There are some issues with the original print in places, but otherwise, it’s a very good transfer and some of the new extras are worth watching, especially for Python completionists.

Extras: Brand new 2k-resolution restoration, approved by Terry Gilliam / Original uncompressed PCM Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options / Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing / Chasing Time Bandits: A new interview with Terry Gilliam / Writing the Film that Dares Not Speak its Name: A new interview in which Michael Palin / The Effects of Time Bandits: A new interview in which Kent Houston, founder of the Peerless Camera Company, discusses Time Bandits optical effects / Playing Evil: A new featurette in with David Warner / The Costumes of Time Bandits: A new interview with costume designer James Acheson / The Look of Time Bandits: A new interview with production designer Milly Burns / From Script to Screen: A new animated featurette in which Milly Burns / Original Trailer / Collector's booklet

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