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Time Bandits
Genre Fantasy
Year: 1981
Time Bandits is a feast for the eyes. Why? Well for starters it’s directed by Terry Gilliam. The man who brought you Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Time Bandits was made in 1981, and revels in its extraordinary visuals, eccentricities and the eternal saga of good versus evil. The story is from a boy’s perspective as he’s bundled into an adventure of epic proportions with minor characters (not from Gulliver’s Travels either). The little people in this adventure are the Time Bandits, and they skip through time robbing the likes of King Agamemnon (Sean Connery) and Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm) of their priceless possessions. They find themselves on-board the Titanic, performing for Trojans, dancing for Napoleon and befriending Robin Hood (John Cleese) in the Middle Ages.

The Time Bandits land up in Kevin’s cupboard after the boy has a dream where a knight on horseback crashes through his room. The bandits are timid at first, thinking that they are being confronted by the Supreme Being, which happens to be Kevin’s flash light in this instance. They are being pursued by the Supreme Being, after “borrowing” a map to all the time holes, and escape is only possible by time warping. They manage to get through one misadventure after another, until they realise that the only way to redeem themselves and find the most valuable artefact of all time is to plunge head first into the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. Little do they know that the Evil Genius (David Warner) has been watching them for some time, and is expecting them.

Time Bandits was made smart enough for adults, and entertaining enough for children. As the tagline suggests it’s “Mercilessly free of the ravages of intelligence.”. The visuals are surreal and imaginative, and the characters are outrageous and memorable. Some talented supporting actors guide the film along its course, and help the little people add a dash of fantasy, sci-fi and comedy. The little people are fantastic, and really add loads of charisma and fun into the whole production. Gilliam has a great sense of what works visually, and it often feels like the famous Monty Python animated illustrations have come to life.

The film is like a boy’s dream becoming a reality, and has a similar feel to The Neverending Story. It makes for excellent family viewing and appeals to all audiences. There are moments that are a little nightmarish, so parental guidance would be a good idea. Time travel, knights, soldiers, bandits, ships, ogres, giants and fortresses punctuate a visual masterpiece in Time Bandits. It’s not Gilliam’s best work, the big name actors don’t feature long enough and the special effects are good for their time. It’s a great film with a fun, brain-free, entertaining story and for the most part is thoroughly enjoyable.

The bottom line: Imaginative.

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