163 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, great DVD!
When I saw "12 Monkeys" in the theaters, I thought to myself, "This is one of the greatest films of the past ten years." Despite working with a script written by others and under some stringent studio restrictions, Terry Gilliam more than managed to infuse the story with his trademark approach to movie-making.
I had some reservations going in...
Published on February 17, 2000 by Tcaalaw
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We get DTS, but Collectors Edition extras removed???
Don't buy this version. Get the other (non DTS) Collector's Edition. DTS isn't worth all the extras that were pulled out to make this version. I was shocked when I realized that this DVD DOESN'T have all the extras the other version does. There are literally NO extras on the DTS version other than chapter search.
Published on April 19, 1999
Most Helpful First | Newest First
163 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, great DVD!,
I had some reservations going in about the choice of Brad Pitt to play the role of a mentally unbalanced eco-terroist, but Pitt did a marvelous job and really made the character his own. (Viewers who like Pitt in "12 Monkeys" would probably do well to check out his performance in "Fight Club". Tyler Durden is what Jeffery Goins could be if he were less manic.) Bruce Willis and Madeline Stowe also turn in terrific performances, especially Willis for whom this was one of his first non-action films. Fans of the old "Batman" TV show will be amused to see Frank Gorshin (the Riddler) as the chief psychiatrist at the mental institution were much of the early part of the film takes place. Christopher Plummer is not given much screen time, but he does an excellent job with what little he has.
As for the story itself, even though many people try to claim that it is about the line between sanity and madness(in the vein of Gilliam's "The Fisher King"), I just do not see it as such. I never doubted Cole's sanity, the future world was too real to make me think that it was a figment of Cole's imagination. And if one did have that impression at first, there was too much revealed early in the film to sustain that belief. I prefer to view the story as an extremely intricate "whodunit", where the viewer actually receives most of the information relevant to the conclusion by about half-way through the film, but in such a jumbled and contradictory manner that the true outcome remains obscure until the last 15 minutes. But of course, this being a Gilliam picture, even after the conclusion is revealed, a final twist is thrown to the viewer. (Note: to appreciate the twist, pay attention to the future scientists. I've known some people who didn't watch closely and they didn't understand the twist as a result.)
Setting aside the film, and considering the DVD, Universal did an excellent job with this release. The documentary "The Hamster Factor" offers some great insights into both "12 Monkeys" and the movie industry in general. And the commentary track with Gilliam and the producer is very good for understanding the process of movie-making, as well as how specific scenes were set up. My only disappointment came with the "Production Notes" feature. If you watch the documentary and listen to the commentary track, the production notes really just repeat what you've previously learned.
118 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening.,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Another important thing to note is to buy the DVD, but not the DTS one. The non-DTS version has an insightful long documentary on the making of the film, the DTS version does not have this. Plus the Dolby Digital sound is excellent in itself.
Most Highly Reccomended.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A film fascinating, fun and frustrating,
This review is from: 12 Monkeys (Special Edition) (DVD)12 Monkeys is a convoluted tale of time travel, insanity, apocalypse, and who-done-it, with some romance thrown in. What I enjoyed most about it was the twisting and ambiguous path it followed, which was fresh and well thought out, to a point.
Bruce Willis plays Cole, a prisoner in a post-apocalyptic future recruited to do some dangerous time-travel work in the past for a group of very odd scientists. The goal of the work only becomes apparent later, and by then there is confusion about whether Cole is really on the mission he thinks he is or is just deluded. Brad Pitt has a major supporting role hamming it up as another who may or may not be insane.
Ultimately, while I don't think the film does full justice to its premises and possibilities, it does well enough to be entertaining and thought provoking. Director Terry Gilliam's surrealism adds much. The acting is very good on the whole, itself rather surreal in some of the supporting roles. There is some violence showing how disturbed Willis's character is, not bad for an R-rated movie. It's definitely worth seeing to judge for yourself what it's really about.
I want to comment on the things you think about after the film is over, to see how well it holds up. I'll have to go into details you may not want to know about if you haven't seen the film yet, thus the spoiler alert. If you'd like to know what my general conclusions are, without any spoilers, just skip to the last couple paragraphs headed "In Sum."
There are many points designed to suggest that parts of the film are delusions, but they're balanced by points seeming to show the opposite. There is the over-the-top strangeness of the future (the video ball, serenading scientists, etc.), the obvious parallels between the psych ward and the future prison (similar panels of doctors/scientists, the two guards, etc), the voice that calls Cole "Bob" (moving around as if in his head, though it seems to belong to the wino too), the music in the ruined department store (apparently a premonition (or something) of the time Cole is there in 1996), the lion and bear (again paralleled in 1996, unlikely denizens of a wintry abandoned Philadelphia).
But then Cole's disappearances, the French that Cole himself doesn't understand in WWI (yes, it's real French), the photo of Cole from WWI (though nearly impossibly convenient), the WWI bullet, Cole's knowledge of the boy in the well prank, all seem to settle things conclusively against delusion. That is, unless we're to imagine that not only the future but the whole film is delusions, of Cole (or Bob) and/or Railly, in line with her own fears and the comment by the virus culprit (Morse) that Railly might be succumbing to her Cassandra syndrome. Confusing? That's what Gilliam was aiming for.
In a way, the view that the whole film is largely delusion seems the most coherent overall interpretation, in that it can explain away all failures of logic. But it has trouble explaining how good the logic is. The film, strange and muddled as it is, really does seem far too lucid and coherent to be primarily be a string of delusions.
The End, Time Travel
The ending has stirred much debate. The woman sitting next to the culprit on the plane is one of the scientists from the future. She is presumably there to do exactly what Cole said the scientists planned to do, gather a sample of the virus from before it mutated. According to Cole, the scientists didn't send him to change the past, which he says is impossible. He was sent to gather information, which he did. We must assume that the sample is gathered and that this enables humanity in the future to return to the surface of the planet. It doesn't help the 5 billion killed.
That appears to be the basic sense of the ending, but it has its own loose ends. Why was Cole given the gun, if not to try to change the past? (Jose's line that it's too bad they didn't get the information sooner makes no sense to me in the context of time travel.) The scientist introduces herself on the plane saying, "I'm in insurance," which is a great line if she's a backup for Cole, in case he fails to stop the spread of the virus. But that too implies he could have changed the past. Even getting a sample of the virus seems to change the past. Trying to figure out the point of all of this is further complicated by the the fact that we are shown the virus being released by the culprit when it was being inspected at the airport. By the time Cole tried to shoot him it was already too late. This adds to the pathos, and the confusion.
Some views of time travel allow the past (and future) to change. It could work this way. Young Cole goes to the airport, there is no shooting, he survives the virus, and is eventually sent back, where he is shot, witnessed by young Cole, who survives the virus and is eventually sent back, where he remembers the shooting and gets shot (the scene we see near the end of the film). This would allow one more twist in the film, one suspected by some optimistic viewers. Railly, recognizing the boy Cole, would tell the boy to remember that the culprit wasn't the 12 monkeys gang but Dr. Goine's assistant. Then Cole could conceivably grow up and loop back one more time, this time preventing the virus from ever being released, and getting the girl. There is no hint of this, however. Had the filmmakers wanted to hint at the possibility, they easily could have (by having Railly whisper something in the boy Cole's ear, for example).
All in all, the film is stimulating and fun but ultimately more frustrating than it might have been. I like a film that provokes thought, but I tend to prefer one that rewards it with additional insights and clarity. That only goes so far here, and then things seem impossible, muddled or otherwise unsatisfying. There is a certain postmodern sensibility that prefers just this kind of lack of clarity and incomplete logic. I don't know if that was intended here or just came about accidentally (I suspect some of each), but if that sensibility is your thing, you should love this film.
The DVD anamorphic video and 5.1 audio quality are fine. There is commentary track with director Gilliam and producer Charles Roven, and a full-length making-of documentary. Both are interesting and worth the time, but don't expect answers to the puzzles the film leaves, other than a hint or two expressed as personal opinion.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, except for some nits to pick.,
By A Customer
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't listen to other review - this is a great disc,
This review is from: 12 Monkeys [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)If you're a fan of 12 Monkeys, the blu-ray version is absolutely the best version to own. Calling it "not blu-ray quality" is humorous and also shows ignorance. That reviewer knows little about how this movie is supposed to look. Not every blu-ray is "supposed" to look like Crank or Pirates of the Caribbean. He probably thought the Godfather looked bad on blu-ray, too. 12 Monkeys looks exactly how it should on blu-ray and probably the best it will ever look.
Also, what most casual blu-ray fans/reviewers never mention is the lossless audio - I'm guessing because they don't even know what that is, and they're the same people that thought forever they were watching HD because they owned an HDTV, or the people that think they're getting a deal by spending only $70 on an HDMI cable on sale at Best Buy. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is a huge step up over whatever lossy track the DVD and HD DVD offered.
Don't hesistate to grab this. It's reasonably priced with a well-done transfer and great audio - strong use of surround sound and a crystal clear lossless track.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gilliam in top form with this science fiction flick,
The plot is fairly straight forward for a Gilliam directed film: Bruce Willis is a convict sent back in time to find information on a deadly virus that destroys much of humanity. The survivors have to move underground (somewhat like in The Time Machine).This virus also insinuates itself into the environment making it impossible for humanity to return to the surface. Willis is to report whatever he finds out before returning home. For doing all this he'll receive a pardon. They want to find information on the 12 Monkeys the terrorist group that took responsibility for the attack and prevent it from occurring.
Willis meets a therapist played by Madeline Stowe when he's taken to a mental institution in our world. It's clear that he's disturbed but is that due to the travel through time? Did his fragmented mind make up the entire story? Stowe has to deal with all of this when she is kidnapped later in the film. Willis has fallen in love with her and tries to convince her his tale is true. Now they're on the run from the police and must find out who is behind the 12 Monkeys and where they have the virus.
The performances are sharp. Willis is particularly good at playing the sad sack time traveler condemned to wonder if he is insane or truly on a hero's mission. Stowe plays the therapist well and injects humanity into a role that could have been routine in the wrong hands. Brad Pitt plays his most bizarre and interesting role yet. I don't recall if he was nominated for an Academy Award but he should have been.
Gilliam's direction is self assured and powerful. He manages to blur the real and imagined in such a way that we're not certain about Willis' sanity. This interesting group of talented artists have created a terrific movie. It's not for everyone though as Gilliam's dark view of humanity and his use of satire might not appeal to everyone. Gilliam and the writers have managed to make an interesting short into a full bodied motion picture.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From time to time.,
This review is from: 12 Monkeys (Widescreen Edition) [VHS] (VHS Tape)In the film "The Terminator" we were told the future was not set. In "12 Monkeys" we're told we can't change what's already happened. This is a really clever film by Terry Gilliam about time travel and the danger it presents if we interfere with history.
In the 21st century, only one per cent of the human race remains. They live in shelters underground. A deadly virus is in the atmosphere, making the surface of the planet uninhabitable to humans. The animals roam free, amid the crumbling ruins of our cities.
Beneath the city of Philadelphia, a group of scientists send James Cole (Bruce Willis) on a reconnaiscence. When he is on the surface he finds a red logo of monkeys circling a big "12". Beneath the logo is the caption: "We did it!"
James is then sent back in time to find the source of the virus. He links the virus to the Army of the 12 Monkeys, a fanatical group of animal rights activists. Once he can track them down, a scientist from the future can come back to our time, study the virus, go back to the future and make a cure. But things dont go according to plan...
This film examines the danger of messing around with time. We can unwittingly be responsible for things that we try to prevent. Actions always count. "12 Monkeys" has an allegorical flavour. The scientists in the future have found the secret of time travel but they still haven't beaten the virus. In our time we can send people into space but we still haven't found a cure for AIDS or the common cold.
You have to pay more attention to this film than you would with your normal action film. Much of the film is cryptic and ambiguous.
If you like this film I recommend you read the John Wyndham short story "Consider Her Ways". It was written in 1956 and involves a virus that killed all the men. When the main character tries to stop this from happening, she unwittingly causes the very thing she was trying to prevent. You'll find this story in the book "Consider Her Ways and Others".
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We get DTS, but Collectors Edition extras removed???,
By A Customer
This review is from: 12 Monkeys (DVD)Don't buy this version. Get the other (non DTS) Collector's Edition. DTS isn't worth all the extras that were pulled out to make this version. I was shocked when I realized that this DVD DOESN'T have all the extras the other version does. There are literally NO extras on the DTS version other than chapter search.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gilliam & Willis' Best ... Sci-Fi Excellence,
Terry Gilliam (who provides wonderful narration on the bonus DVD audio track) has worked his magic on the film. His usual themes of madness are back, this time embodied by Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. Both give excellent performances. Madeleine Stowe is wonderful as well.
The film deals with time travel. Willis must glean clues from Earth's past in order to figure out when a deadly virus was released -- a virus which left the Earth decimated and sent its inhabitants underground. The film unfolds like a wonderful jigsaw puzzle. It is definitely a brain-tickler (my favorite kind of sci-fi!).
Watch 12 MONKEYS! There are no space ships or shoot-outs. You will find, however, a wonderful film about love and memories. And some pretty cool sci-fi ideas too!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind bending trip,
This review is from: 12 Monkeys (Special Edition) (DVD)Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam helmed this surprise masterpiece which features some of the finest performances in the careers of Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, and Brad Pitt. James Cole (Willis) is "volunteered" to travel back in time to trace the origins of a virus that will wipe out most of the humanity on the planet, but as he is slingshotted back and forth through time he begins to question his sanity and his perceptions of reality. Along the way he is incarcerated in a mental asylum under the care of a psychiatrist who is strangely drawn to him (Stowe), and he encounters a deranged inmate (an Oscar nominated Pitt) on his journey to uncover the truth. Willis is superb in his role, words can't describe it alone. Pitt however, is more than worth noting, and his nomination for Best Supporting Actor was more than well deserved (his characterization of Jeffrey bears a striking similarity, albeit a few cans short of a six pack, to another role of Pitt's in Fight Club as Tyler Durden). Gilliam's direction is as fantastic as it ever was. Even though he had a relatively modest budget for a major studio, his uncanny vision makes the film work. In the hands of another director, 12 Monkeys would have been a failure, in Gilliam's hands we get a dark yet witty apocalyptic film with riveting performances and an unforgettable climax that must be seen to be believed. Christopher Plummer also stars as Pitt's scientist father, and look for David Morse in a pivotal role.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
12 Monkeys [Blu-ray] by Terry Gilliam (Blu-ray - 2009)