Most helpful positive review
367 of 414 people found the following review helpful
Great new transfer with nice extras makes this worthwhile (Review for DVD NOT Blu-ray)
on February 9, 2004
PLEASE NOTE: THIS REVIEW WAS WRITTEN FOR THE TWO DVD DISC EDITION OF "TIME BANDITS" PUT OUT BY ANCHOR BAY.
First, I have to note that most of these reviews are for the somewhat disappointing Criterion Edition released in 1999. The version I'll be reviewing is the much improved Divimax (high definition digital transfer)from Anchor Bay. The two DVD edition of Time Bandits from Anchor Bay has isn't perfect but it's a stark improvement on the previous no frills version they issued in 1999 and the Criterion Edition from the same time frame.
The high definition transfer and the fact that the film has been enhanced for 16x9 televisions are definite improvements on the previous edition. The picture is sharper although I did note some minor edge enhancement and digital compression issues. On the whole, though, the picture looks marvelous. The first disc features only the film and it doesn't have the great audio commentary compilation by Gilliam, Michael Palin, David Warner, John Cleese and Craig Warnock. That's a pity because that would have made this the ultimate edition of the film.
Now the major complaint from some folks regarding the image size. Gilliam shot Time Bandits to be shown theatrically in a 1.85:1 ratio. Time Bandits was probably shot full screen (like Kubrick's films so that they wouldn't be badly "cropped" when released). More than likely Gilliam matted the image AFTER the film was shot. The widescreen image IS the way Gilliam intended the film to be seen).
The worst looking DVD was the one put out by the highly regarded Criterion Company. It featured interlace problems, an unstable picture (perhaps due to a flaw during the telecine transfer)and sound that sound left much to be desired. The aspect ratio (the dimension of the width and heighth of the film on screen)is correct here and the beautifully detailed transfer is so sharp that, on occasion, you can even see the limitations (there's a hint of wires in some scenes)of Terry Gilliam's optical effects.
NOTE UPDATE 9/28/10: THE BLU-RAY EDITION PUT OUT BY ANCHOR BAY HAS MANY PROBLEMS. I MENTION THIS HERE BECAUSE THIS HAS BEEN GROUPED IN WITH THE BLU-RAY REVIEW AS WELL. THE IMAGE QUALITY ISN'T ALL THAT GREAT AND HAS INTERLACE PROBLEMS AND WAS TRANSFERRED AT 1080I NOT 1080P WHICH MEANS THERE IS A REDUCTION IN IMAGE QUALTIY. WE ONLY GET AN 18 MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH GILLIAM ALONG WITH THE TRAILER FOR THE FILM NOTHING ELSE FROM THE 2 DISC EDITION FROM 2004. I WOULD WAIT FOR A BETTER BLU-RAY TRANSFER FOR THE FILM. GIVEN THE FILM STOCK THAT "TIME BANDITS" WAS SHOT WITH, THE AGE OF THE FILM, ETC. YOU MAY NOT SEE A HUGE IMPROVEMENT IN THE BLU-RAY EDITION OF THE FILM (QUITE HONESTLY IT DEPENDS ON YOUR MONITOR, SIZE, ETC.).
THE REGION "B" BLU-RAY ISN'T A HUGE IMPROVEMENT OVER THE U.S. RELEASE.
The soundtrack has been remixed for the Dolby Digital EX track although I much preferred the more natural sounding 5.1 mix. Since the original source material was designed for stereo and there were some recording limitations at the time the film was made, the tinny sound is still a bit of a problem. That's not a problem that can be easily solved unfortunately. Still, Anchor Bay does the best they can with the materials at hand.
The second disc contains all the extras. The feaurettes include the marvelous The Directors: The films of Terry Gilliam with interviews featuring Gilliam, Shelly Duvall, Brad Pitt, Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Ruehl, Madeleine Stowe and David Warner. There's also an interview with Gilliam and Palin as well as the original theatrical trailers for the film. Some of these features duplicate comments heard on the commentary track for the film from Criterion.
UPDATE: 9/28/10-THE BLU-RAY EDITION HAS NO SECOND DISC. IT DOES FEATURE AN ENTERTAINING 18 MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH GILLIAM AND THE TRAILER.
There's also a Terry Gilliam bio and, most importantly, a DVD-Rom version of the original screenplay. Both these features are no where else to be found. Anchor Bay includes a fold out Map of the Universe which also has a background on the film production.
UPDATE 9/28/10: THE SCREENPLAY AND THE FOLD OUT MAP ARE NOT INCLUDED WITH THE BLU-RAY.
ADVICE FOR THE BLU-RAY: WAIT UNTIL ANCHOR BAY DOES A DECENT JOB OR THERE IS A RESTORATION FOR THIS FINE FILM FOR BLU-RAY.