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12 Monkeys (Collector's Edition)

review by David G.



Running Time: 130 minutes

Studio: Universal

Starring: Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, Christopher Plummer, David Morse

Screenplay by David Peoples and Janet Peoples inspired by the film "La Jetée" written by Chris Marker

Director: Terry Gilliam

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Terry Gilliam and producer Chuck Roven, Theatrical Trailer, Production Notes, Storyboards and Production Stills, Documentary "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys"

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, English Captions, Spanish Captions, French Captions, Chapter Search

This tortuous story begins in the future in 2035 where the humans are compelled to live underground after a killer virus devastated the race. One of the survivors, James Cole (Bruce Willis) is chosen to be sent into the past during 1996 in order to retrace the virus's origin to collect information and thus, to allow the scientists in the future to create a treatment. But the travels in time are not mastered and in fact, Cole is sent to the year 1990. In this year, he meets the psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and Jeffrey Goines, the son of the famous microbiologist Leland Goines (Christopher Plummer). Of course, nobody believes him and even Cole begins to doubt about his mind's health: Is it real or is he schizophrenic? and who is this child witness of a gunfight in his dreams?

Terry Gilliam was the perfect guy to make this movie mixing the particular architecture of Philadelphia and Baltimore and the inexorability of the fates with the sense of absurdity that is Gilliam's touch.

I remember in 1995, there were were two huge and desperate films which came out: Seven and 12 Monkeys. The first made the demonstration that evil could win against good and the second showed that the future is set, there is nothing we can do to change it (unlike Terminator 2). 12 Monkeys is a success because the screenplay does not take the audience for a dumb and the cast is really perfect. Bruce Willis plays a character far away from his usual roles, Brad Pitt is amazing as a kind of electric psycho boy. Both would have deserved an Academy Award®.

Like Seven, don't expect to laugh here, everything is desperate and there is no happy endng. The movie is not easy and you will have to concentrate to follow the events and luckily, the movie was a box office success. I am happy to see that even if the pitiful Independence Day was a success there are still peoples to appreciate good cinema.

12 Monkeys is presented in a 1:85:1 widescreen anamorphic format and there is nothing to criticise. The black is deep, there is no apparent dust and the picture look clear.

English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1 with English, Spanish and French subtitles are included on the disc. I was very pleased to hear a French Dolby Digital 5.1 (I'm french) all the more since it is just as excellent as the English one. The effects are numerous and very well distributed across all the speakers. I take advantage of the occasion to mention the disdain of the studios for the good quality French soundtracks: it is somewhat rare to have a French Dolby Digital 5.1, so please make a little effort! (Editor's Note: A good amount of Disney discs include them.)

We are lucky, Universal gives us a great feature called "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys", this big report shows the creating process of this particular movie almost day by day from preproduction to postproduction. We can see Terry Gilliam is depressed because he didn't understand the story as much as he wanted to. There is also the theatrical trailer, a commentary, production notes and the cast and filmmaker's biographies. All of this is very, very interesting.

A great movie, a great DVD and some great extras. This is one movie I'd bring if I was tapped on a desert island.

(5/5, NOT included in final score.)




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