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amore eroma » Movies, Movies - SciFi » 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys
Directed by Terry Gilliam

Now, time travel films are hit or miss. The genre is filled with both ends of the spectrum ranging from brilliant and fun to sad, pathetic, weak and ridiculous. 12 MONKEYS is definitely on the “brilliant and fun” end of the swing, handling the time travel motif well and being very smart about the concepts and storyline. This blast from the past holds up really well and is one grand time travel film and takes the French short La Jetée (1962 – movie link) on which it was based to a new level.

Terry Gilliam creates in his usual playful style, weaving a dark and grim dystopian view of a horrid timeline. This wasn’t pure fantasy, but a creepy vision of a dead world desperately trying to dig themselves out from under.  The Gilliam hand can be seen in the “future” world, but is much lighter in the word of the present and the combo works well.

Bruce Willis is “volunteer” James Cole, one of a small handful of survivors of a massive, worldwide killer virus.  He’s sent out into the post-apocalyptic environment to collect samples and completes his mission so well that his scientist jailers decide to use him for an even bigger one – journeying back through time to get details about the cause of the viral outbreak. Willis’ standard and strong performance as the unwilling lab rat time traveler is perfect. He’s not an action hero, just someone trying to do what he’s asked to do so he can get out and away and find some sort of piece.

Madeleine Stowe plays James Cole’s psychologist Katheryn Railly and transforms from a person who is planted firmly in the real world to someone who isn’t entirely sure of what is happening around her. The performance doesn’t come off as campy at all. It’s very real and intense as her well structured world falls apart around her.

Brad Pitt’s performance as the completely insane Jeffrey Goines is the best of all, however. Mad as a hatter, dear Jeffrey has plans. Big plans. And the voices in his head confirm that they are great and amazing plans, indeed!  This role must have been so much fun for Pitt. He’s an absolute loon.

The film explores many of the standard time travel ideas, but manages to bring some interesting and entertaining story points into play that take it to a higher level. Much of the interest is created through the writing, not the special effects. This makes it a stronger entry into the time game and takes it above simple science fiction.

If you have not seen 12MONKEYS, give it a go. I don’t think you will be disappointed. If you have not seen it in a while, you may want to revisit it – I was surprised at just how well it held up.

Filed under: Movies, Movies - SciFi

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