Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TIME BANDITS (Blu-ray)

"If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!"

One of my favorite fantasy films from my high school days is the 1981 Terry Gilliam fairy tale TIME BANDITS. Well, the new Blu-Ray edition of the film from Image Entertainment streets today.

Kevin (Craig Warnock), a young boy with a vivid imagination and thirst for knowledge, lives in an English suburb with his inattentive parents. One night, six diminutive fugitives with a map that allows them to travel to different points in world history, emerge from his bedroom closet, pursued by an angry Supreme Being. Escaping through a "time hole," Kevin is inadvertently caught up with the strange little men, who plan to use the map to steal from historical figures such as Napoleon (Ian Holm, THE LORD OF THE RINGS), King Agamemnon (Sean Connery) and Robin Hood (John Cleese). Unfortunately, Evil (David Warner, TIME AFTER TIME, TRON) wants to get his clawed hands on the map, and employs his powers to manuever the Kevin and his companions into his, well, evil, clutches.

Sometimes dark, but always brilliant, director/co-writer Gilliam (BRAZIL, THE FISHER KING) and co-writer Michael Palin (MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL) created a clever, late 20th century WIZARD OF OZ, with endearing characters and a slew of memorable set-pieces. The dialogue is witty and subtly subversive, the pace is perfect, and the hand-crafted special effects perfectly suit the childlike/dream-like nature of the story. It is one of the finest cinematic fantasies ever, and a great movie for kids and adults both.

Image's new Blu-Ray edition presents TIME BANDITS in 1080i HD, with a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer. Unfortunately, it does not appear that any restoration or remastering was done - the print is littered with small specks and bits of dust/dirt. It looks good, but not as good as one might expect from a Blu-Ray presentation. Bonus features are sparse, as well: there's a video interview with Gilliam, who answers the questions of an unseen interviewer, and the original - extremely funny - theatrical trailer. That's it.

Fans of the film who are equipped with HD TV and a Blu-Ray player might want to pick it up, but be aware that it looks like the same source material used for the old DVD release. It's too bad - TIME BANDITS deserves better.

BUY: Time Bandits [Blu-ray]