has an average rating of 8.1 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are just the DVD / HD-DVD ports
– 129 minutes
This uses 35.9GB for the movie out of 39.5GB total.
Street Date: July 28th, 2009
Overall Verdict – Recommended for Gilliam Fans
The Movie Itself was Directed by Terry Gilliam. “12 Monkeys” tells the story of a man named James Cole (Bruce Willis) who is sent back in time from the year 2035 to the year 1996 in hopes of saving the human race from a deadly virus which has forced mankind into total seclusion from the above world. Down below the ground, they live in communities hoping one day to come out and start a new world. Once he arrives, Cole encounters a patient named Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) and a psychiatrist named Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). Cole soon learns, after a few conversations with Jeffrey, that he may hold the whole key to solving this virus. As the film progresses, what we and Cole learn is that the scientists who simply sent Cole back to obtain a sample of this virus for further study, may have had more sinister motives at hand.
The film is directed by Terry Gilliam, a man who certainly has quite the fan base not because his films gross a lot of money, but rather because his films require the mind to think about what they’ve just seen on the screen. Having only seen this film once before this viewing, my love for the film was brought back quickly. Even though I’ve only seen a handful of his films, I’ve always loved how Gilliam is able to sway away from the main plot to introduce side plots in a manner that is always keeping the viewer in loop with what the main purpose of the film at hand. His films are so creative, insane (in a good sense), fun, and simply a mind trip to watch. He creates these characters that are so unique and interesting that one can help getting sucked into the story at hand.
Speaking of the characters he’s creates, I absolutely enjoyed the performance by Brad Pitt here (no real surprise that he was nominated for an Academy Award). Arriving in the same year as the masterpiece called “Se7en“, audiences could easily see the type of actor Pitt was shaping himself into. He handles this mental patient role with extreme simplicity that one may wonder, as I did, if Jeffrey doesn’t actually know more than he tells the character of James. Bruce Willis, in the days where audiences accepted his roles and characters, he spends nearly the whole running length of the film dazed, confused and bewildered not knowing who to believe, and more importantly, who to trust. This is what makes the film so interesting. In order to fully appreciate the film, one must carefully pay attention to each little point, sort of playing a game of connect the dots. Even in the end, as had to this time around, a repeated viewing might be necessary (luckily the including commentary helped provide some insight into the questions I had).
With “12 Monkeys” being his most successful film to date, audiences need to open their eyes and ears to understand the man that Gilliam is. Sure he isn’t the type of director that is a guaranteed, sure-fire go to go for a first rate film, but the films he has done thus far in his career, are definitely entertaining and can actually assist in determining who we are (at least I felt this way). Overall, looking back on “12 Monkeys” some 14 years later, especially with the H1N1 flu in our current news, it’s a film that was originally intended really as Sci-Fi (science fiction) but is now slowly becoming a tad eerily close to someday being maybe science fact. I hope that to not be the case but one can’t help but notice those similarities now in retrospect of the film. Regardless, the film still proves to be extremely entertaining and especially thought-provoking as all of Terry Gilliam‘s work most certainly always is.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The first item I noticed here is that this transfer, as noted above, is not what I expected. Now this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just the transfer felt like I was on a continuous roller-coaster ride with the constant ups and downs in the video. Grain was the first big issue here as the overall presences of grain and dirt certainly helped to show the age of the film (11 years now). I do wonder if the use of grain may have been a stylistic choice by Gilliam as his recent Brothers Grimm had a similar problem. Anyhow, when it comes to color usage, blacks are the most dominant color here. The black levels are solid and defining created a real dark, somber world that are characters have involved themselves in. Since black is the most dominant color as noted above, the sequences where the color does dominant, like the overall transfer, tends to go up and down. Some sequences, like a majority of the flashback sequences, seemed to be washed out almost creating a sense of blurriness in the image. Again, this may have been done as a stylistic choice, but still I was curious about this.
Speaking of the ups, when the image delivers, it delivers an extremely nice image. However, the image is still not as good as we’ve come to expect. Sure the image does create a nice overall look (especially some of the three-dimensional effects), but I guess I could consider this transfer a slight disappointment. Universal has done what they could have done with the transfer at hand. However I still must put out a warning to all of you. If you do grab this film (which you should), don’t expect a super upgrade here as Universal hasn’t given this one the upgrade treatment yet. This earns an okay “3 Star Rating“.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The simple best part of this track is the overall positive use of the film’s surrounds. Gilliam, as he has proved with the film itself, obviously has a very careful eye making sure everything looks its best. Composer Paul Buckmaster worked close with Gilliam here to create the perfect score here with interesting, little sounds all of which sound fantastic. Dialogue, on the other hand, does become a bit muddled and hard to understand in some sequences. This is a big deal because instead of lying down and enjoying the film’s audio experience, I had to constantly adjust the audio levels, certainly taking away from the audio. Bass, on the hand, was similar to the film’s surrounds becoming active when needed. All in all this earns a “4 Star Rating“.
Bonus Materials are presented in Standard Definition video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound 192kbps.
- Feature Audio Commentary with Director Terry Gilliam and Producer Charles Roven
- “The Hamster Factor & Other Tales of 12 Monkeys“
- “12 Monkeys Archives” (4 minutes) is an archive of still photos such as production art, concert art, poster art and so forth. It’s a shame it’s only in standard definition but it does boast over 200 images total at least.
Obviously made as an accompanying piece to the included documentary, I found that Gilliam and Roven do tend to repeat a bit of the information that was included in the documentary. Still, Gilliam and Roven are a blast to listen to coming off as two highly informative and intelligent gentlemen. Gilliam informs us that it was a pleasure to work with the entire cast, while Roven dives into the technical aspects of the film.
Now this was a highly pleasant surprise here. This 87-minute documentary is the feature of all features. Every little aspect of the film, from pre-production, Gilliam’s relationship with the cast, crew and Hollywood in itself, audience reactions to the film, and the success of the film at the box office is dealt with here. And never, not once, does the documentary become dull or uninformative. Kudos to the folks behind this film, as you’ve created one of the best features I’ve seen in quite sometime.
Overall, the bonus material we get here is nothing new in comparison to the previous HD-DVD release and is actually a bit disappointing to see considering this film has a large cult-following as do all of Terry Gilliam‘s films — for that matter.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.