Monday, June 5, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #24: "Twelve Monkeys" (1995)

Movie Stats:
Released 1995 (USA)
American, in English (a small amount of translated French)
Director - Terry Gilliam
Stars - Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt

Plot Summary:
Some thirty years after a virus wipes out most of the Earth’s population, forcing the survivors to live underground, convicted criminal James Cole (Willis) is sent back in time to discover the source of the infection. Stowe co-stars as psychiatrist Kathryn Railly & Pitt as psych patient Jeffrey Goines.

Violence; gore; lots of blue language; male nudity (butt only); attempted rape; forced drug use (psychiatric meds).

Bad Stuff:
Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for watching it, but I found myself a bit bored.

It’s weird in a way that makes me uncomfortable. For example, the way that county lock-ups & mental institutions are portrayed as dystopian hellholes. Like, I know such places aren’t exactly fun, but the way they are characterized here is really off-putting.

Good Stuff:
The performances from Willis and Pitt are phenomenal.

It’s refreshing to see a time travel movie that doesn’t hinge on someone going back in time to stop something. That’s a good way to avoid the problem of a time paradox.

This is the type of “mind game” story line that I like. The audience already knows the truth: that Cole is from the future. We don’t have to discover it along with the main characters. That means we can sit back, relax, and be entertained by the characters’ journey.

The Verdict:
This movie totally borrowed the beginning and end from La Jetée! So that explains how an obscure French short film found its way onto the list (by being influential). It seems more of a loving homage than outright theft. I thought it was kind of cool. As I said above, I found myself a trifle bored here, but I also wasn’t much in the mood for it, so I’m going to cut it some slack in my rating. It’s well crafted, a rare time travel film that avoids the pitfalls such movies typically face. I also really love Brad Pitt in it. Its one of his performances that remind you that he became popular for things other than having a pretty face. This is a flick that deserves all the accolades it has long received.

I give it 4 stars.


Patricia said...

I have warm, fuzzy feelings about this movie, though I haven't seen it since 1995. It's from my "becoming serious about film" era. I really liked it at the time. One of the things that impressed me was how Brad Pitt just went for it. I had thus been unimpressed with him. Legends of the Fall was a ridiculous movie and he was ridiculous in it. But this movie made me sit up and take notice. I decided not to write him off just yet. Good decision, younger me.

Also, Walter Willis is usually fun to watch, so that made for a good film.

Thanks for the update about the loving homage. Mystery solved!

balyien said...

Oh my god, THANK YOU! I always thought I was the only person who thought Legends of the Fall was a stupid movie. I don't think I appreciated Brad Pitt until I saw Fight Club, which, even though it came out later, I saw before Twelve Monkeys.