Friday, 16 October 2015

Review: Time Bandits

I can't believe I haven't seen…

Time Bandits Poster

Time Bandits (1981)
Cert: PG / 115 mins / Dir. Terry Gilliam / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

It takes a certain skill to make the central character in your PG-rated adventure flick an 11yr old boy, and yet not be making a kids' film. Step forward Mr Terry Gilliam. Time Bandits bridges the phases of his career between Python and mainstream film-making*1, which turns out to be both its strength and its weakness.

The film feels a little like a companion-piece to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with the surreal humour and roving quest carried over. It's definitely Gilliam reaching further than before (despite messrs Palin and Cleese having prominent comedic cameos), but he's not quite ready to take the strides he did in Brazil or Munchausen. There's also still the feeling that the film is a series of vignettes assembled into a screenplay, or a bare-bones story which has been padded out with previously written material.

The cast are a real mixed bunch in terms of acting (Ralph Richardson can't always have been like that, surely?), although they're all earnest and enthusiastic enough to carry the bizarre story forward. But it's really David Rappaport who shines as the Bandits' leader Randall, to the point where he's almost too good for the film. There are also some great effects and high production values at work, especially as you can often tell that there was a very finite budget available.

Despite Gilliam's stamp being all over Time Bandits, you're never quite sure who's actually in charge. Charmingly shambolic (at least some of which is intentional), like The Hobbit re-imagined by Douglas Adams…

Best line: Best line: "If I were creating a world I wouldn't have started with butterflies and daffodils. I'd have started with lasers. Eight o'clock, day one!"

Have you really never seen this before?
Yeah, really. I've seen clips of it, of course, and even read the comic-adaptation in Return Of The Jedi Weekly back in the day. But never seen it. Until now.

So are you glad you've finally have?
I am, but I'm also glad I saw it in such close proximity to Holy Grail.

And would you recommend it, now?
With reservations, yes.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There only bloody IS, an'all!

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The film stars Kenny 'R2' Baker, Jack 'Jawa/Ugnaught/Teebo the Ewok' Purvis, Mike 'Logray the Ewok' Edmonds and Malcolm 'Un-named Ewok Warrior' Dixon.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Well, as mainstream as film-making can be under Mr Gilliam's magnificent auspices...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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