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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, Turkish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Bulgarian
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - with Director Terry Gilliam and Producer Charles Roven
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Photo gallery - The 12 Monkeys Archive
  • Awards/Nominations - The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys

12 Monkeys - Collectors Edition

Universal/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 124 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It’s the future, 2035. A virus has killed most of the population, mankind is living underground, the animals have reclaimed the surface and scientists are trying to claim back the planet. James Cole, serving time in prison, is offered a pardon if he agrees to travel into the past to gather samples of the virus for scientists to create an antidote. Unfortunately, the time-travel technology is not what you would call precise, and results in Cole missing his target year of 1996. Cracking under the pressures of his dislocation in time, under the influence of a psychiatrist he begins to believe that the whole story is in his head and that none of the travelling is really happening. But as he is repeatedly pulled back to 2035 and resent to the past in search of The Army Of The 12 Monkeys, the group believed responsible for the release of the virus, the psychiatrist begins to believe that perhaps Cole is telling the truth after all…

Confused? Good! This film wants you to be confused. Like an old trusted friend, it takes you calmly by the hand and starts to quickly walks you down a seemingly clear and uncluttered wide path with the sun shining above, promising you’ll be home soon. After a short distance, suddenly, your hand is jerked in the opposite direction of your body and while you’re rubbing your wrist wondering what the hell just happened, you see that you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. So you readjust your bearings, and try to get back on the trail so you can make it safely home before the 3 bears come and slap you around for thinking about eating their porridge. Then, the skies begin to grow dark, the path seems narrower and strange sounds emanate from the woods, but you think that maybe you can see your house just off into the distance, and might be on the right track after all. Heading in what you think is the right direction, you feel a sense of relief wash over you, but somewhere deep in the back of your mind you have a niggling doubt. “But what if this isn’t the right path?” you ask yourself. “What if I’m getting further and further away from home, rather than closer…” You’re confused now. And scared. So you stop walking…

This is where you decide whether you’re the sort of person who is either going to run for your life in the direction that seems right, or f**k it…you simply can’t take the pressure anymore so you pull out your mobile phone and call for police air rescue.

If you’re the sort who is willing to take a chance and make a run for it, then this film will reward you with a story that can be re-interpreted with each viewing. Terry Gilliam, working from a screenplay based upon a French short film craftily takes the audience through a wonderfully woven tale that is intelligent, confusing and mesmerising, all at the same time. Do you think I’m gushing a bit? Probably because I am, actually.

I’ve watched this film probably twenty times over the years, and the central performance by Bruce Willis as Cole and Brad Pitt’s “fingular” acting make you wish they could be given more roles of substance and interest, such is the quality of the complete believability they bring to their characters.

…BUT! Yes, there is a but. On the flip side, some will find the story overly complex and confusing, perhaps taking a little too long to get to where it’s going, perhaps just a little too taxing and unrewarding. There is much that you could find ugly to the characters, settings and plot. Although there are some very well written subtle moments of humour which raise more of a wry smirk than an outright guffaw, it still comes over as a dark and pessimistic piece, with a knowing wink to Hitchcock and a whopping great big single finger salute to Hollywood.

  Video
Contract

Bloody Nora! I've never seen a transfer look so much like film before. The first thing I thought upon seeing the image is how close it was to the experience of watching 12 Monkeys in a cinema. It is often stunning to look at with a soft, smooth and, well, a "filmy" appearance. Sure, there are some minor lapses where the images appears a tad too soft, but these moments are very brief and seems to be a result of the camerawork. So what about the detail? Well, you want detail, you got detail. Oodles and oodles of it. Just look at the sets. Those fantastic futuristic sets built in a powerplant and decorated with technology that is assembled from objects you'd find in 1996. Look at the faces, the shots of the abandoned city streets at the start, the intricate sets of the future, just look at them, they're brilliant! You get wonderful colours that shift from cool to warm depending on the setting, each time seeming to perfectly evoke the mood. Shadows are deep and solid and the brighter moments, such as the highly exposed flashback/forward segments are brilliant. I give this two big fab mackka wacky thumbs aloft!

  Audio
Contract

You know how it is when one of your favourite films finally gets released and half of you expects the worst to occur and it will get a shitty transfer, and the other half of you hopes and prays that it will be the sort of transfer that is good enough not to draw attention to itself and make the wait worthwhile. Well, thankfully this one was worth the wait.

Featuring a DD5.1 soundtrack, even with Willis dribbling spit everywhere and speaking in a drug induced slur, mumbling like a maniac and Pitt jumping around like a loon raising and lowering and raising his voice, the dialogue comes across clear and natural sounding. The mix makes effective use of the surrounds, particularly when Cole hears the disembodied voice floating around the room the mix pans the audio around your head. Supporting the whole show is the subtle use of bass which adds good emphasis when needed for a complete and satisfying audio experience.

  Extras
Contract

12 Monkeys comes with a few Special Features that should really satisfy anyone after a little more enhanced understanding of the film. First up is the audio commentary with director Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven. Now, this could have been the only extra on the disc and I wouldn’t have complained a bit. A virtual non stop gabfest expanding on a bucket load of info about the locations, problems, production, actors etc etc etc. The enthusiasm they show makes this an easy listen and will reward you with a fair bit of info on the film.

Next, is probably one of the best features I’ve seen for a looong time, the 87 minute feature “The Hamster Factor And Other Tales Of 12 Monkeys”. Coupled with the commentary, it builds a fairly complete picture of the creation of the film, starting with Gilliam cringing at his introduction on the Letterman Show, right down to the questionable value of Hollywood test screenings.

Also, unlisted on the case and but buried in the chapter listing for “The Hamster Factor…” feature is an extra that some review sites seemed to have missed. Called “The 12 Monkeys Archive”, this is an extensive still images gallery of production/concept art, on set photos, production photos, storyboards, candid snaps and poster gallery. This hidden extra pretty much sealed the success of the disc completely for me, being unexpected, of great interest and a welcome find.

Rounding things off, we have the theatrical trailer, interesting production notes, and brief cast and filmmakers notes.

  Overall  
Contract

Obviously, I think this is a great film. You may disagree, but then you would be missing out on a thoroughly rewarding and replayable movie that definitely gets better with time. The transfer afforded to this release does it justice and the extras package simply seals the justification to run out and make this the very next addition to your collection.


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      And I quote...
    "Colonics for everyone! The Army of The Twelve Monkeys are coming to dvd!"
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB930
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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