Blu-ray Review “Time Bandits: The Criterion Collection”

timebanditsStarring: Michael Palin, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm
Director: Terry Gilliam
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance)
Studio: Criterion Collection
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Run Time: 116 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Terry Gilliam is easily one of the most creative minds ever in film. His have never really been understood and really given the time of day with a mainstream audience but they seem to all become cult classics. “Time Bandits” is one of the best things to come out of 1981, minus myself 😉 This film is one that gets better and better with each viewing and never loses it charm. This latest Blu-ray release is for its addition into the Criterion Collection, which gives us a new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Terry Gilliam. This is the best that I have EVER seen this film. It is a perfect release.

Official Premise: In this fantastic voyage through time and space from Terry Gilliam, a boy named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarves. Armed with a map stolen from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), they plunder treasure from Napoleon (Ian Holm) and Agamemnon (Sean Connery)—but Evil (David Warner) is watching their every move. Featuring a darkly playful script by Gilliam and Monty Python’s Michael Palin (who also appears in the film), Time Bandits is at once a giddy fairy tale, a revisionist history lesson, and a satire on technology gone awry.

Arrow Video recently released a Blu-ray transfer for this film but this is even newer than that edition. Here is the text that is included on leaflet provided with this release: “Supervised by director Terry Gilliam, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original camera negative. The restoration was overseen by Arrow Video and performed by Deluxe Digital Cinema in London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS. The original soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic track.”

Like I said above, this is a flawless transfer. Criterion has been very kind and supportive of Gilliam’s work. I still treasure my 3-disc DVD set of “Brazil” from 1999. This track also comes with a equally flawless LPCM 2.0 surround track. It is definitely much better than the previous 5.1 track that was released in the past. The clarity is easily noticed and the score sounds amazing. The 2K restoration really delivered for both audio and video for “Time Bandits”. This is going to rank as one of the best releases of 2014, no question.

The special features are equally outstanding at the 2K restoration. There is vintage audio commentary track featuring Gilliam, cowriter/actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock, which was first taken from the DVD release of “Time Bandits” and recorded exclusively for Criterion in 1997.  There is a new piece narrated by film writer David Morgan and featuring production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson “Creating the Worlds of Time Bandits” focuses on creating the film’s numerous historical periods and fantasy worlds.

There is a conversation between Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh which was taken from the Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival dating back to 1998. There is an excerpt from a 1981 appearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show on NBC, which also features the actress discussing her role in “The Shining” as well. Lastly there is an original trailer and stills gallery included and an illustrated leaflet featuring an essay by critic David Sterritt. Even though there is only one new extra on this Blu-ray, I am in love!

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