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Time Bandits is (kind of) a Monty Python film. Therefore if you do not like films by such genius’ as John Cleese, Michael Palin and of course, Terry Gilliam then please perform your silly walk and leave, lest I be forced to slap you with a fish. In true Monty Python style this film is daft, entertaining and finally arrived on our shores here in the UK in September 2002. I’d like to say that it has taken me that long to watch all the extras to get this review in order, but that would be a lie, so apologies for the tardiness of this review. The best thing about having the review now is that the sales are on and this DVD has featured in at least one I have seen. So you might want to go and buy it before finishing reading this review to make sure there is a copy left.

Say cheese!
The Film
A story of good vs. evil but with the Python-esq touch, the film focuses on Kevin, an eleven year old boy from the mid nineteen eighties and a band of time travelling robbers. Hopefully this won’t get too confusing but the robbers are a band of dwarfs who used to work for the Supreme Being, which is a less blasphemous way of having God in the film. While God, sorry, the Supreme Being made the birds and the butterflies, the dwarves made the trees and shrubs. Not receiving any thanks or gratitude for their work they decide to rebel and steal a magical map. This map is a map of time (and incidentally comes with the DVD as the inlay – more on that later) and allows its owners to pick a place in time and travel to is via portals which appear in certain places for a limited time only. The dwarves steal the map and are chased through time by The Supreme Being (who doesn’t come off as very supreme really, does he?) and they end up in Kevin’s bedroom. Escaping with them, Kevin and the robbers travel to France in time to steal all of Napoleon’s treasure. Still with me?

From here on Kevin leaves his parents mundane life of watching pointless game shows on television and travels through time with the Supreme Being hot on his heels. The bandits then get hood winked by Evil to bring the map to him under the pretence that where Evil resides, also plays host to the Most Fabulous Object in the World. Evil needs the map to leave his domain as he is trapped in his fortress with his minions in what appears to be, the time of legend. Along the way the party meet amazing figures from history including King Agamemnon, Napoleon and Robin Hood as well as a large ogre with back pains.

Mirror mirror on the floor, who is the horniest of them all?
The Python cast play several of these roles throughout time, except for King Agamemnon who is played by Sean Connery, who also plays a fireman. So as you can see, it is not a standard film however, it is not truly a Python film either. It is rather cast in the mould of a Python film, which has been aimed at a different audience. Infectiously funny with lots of great imagery means that after you have watched the film and the interview, you need to watch the film again to see the links between certain parts which I won’t spoil for you.  

The video is quite soft with a tolerable quantity of grain and artefacts. However, it is not atrocious and is presented in 1.85:1 with anamorphic enhancement. Luckily this region two disc from Anchor Bay is the best available due to it being anamorphic, where as previous releases including the Criterion are either non-anamorphic or (unbelievably) 4:3. The film has a light sheen to it which seems to be typical of a lot of eighties films. One scene early on in the film actually has a large yellow line down the right half of the frame for several seconds for the whole shot.

Ah, an ancient Greek who speaks with a Scottish accent
All versions of this film are now presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack however, the region two also comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix which is actually quite decent. Some fun use of the rear speakers during explosions or the like let you know that it is remixed for your entertainment. The only problem is that there seems to be lip syncing problems during the films second half. This is a shame since the rest of the DVD is presented so well.

The first thing you will notice is a map. This is not on the DVD itself, but as a fold out extra – your own replica of the map used in the film, so that you can dress up with your friends and pretend to travel through time in your own rendition of the film. Or not! The first DVD extra is a Commentary track which is a bit of a cut and paste job from several sources. At first it just features Terry Gilliam (writer/director) which makes it seem like a director’s commentary track however, after a while Craig Warnock chimes in. Warnock played Kevin back in 1981 and now he is old enough to string a sentence together however, it must be hard to remember what you did as a child around twenty years ago, so he only speaks irregularly during scenes he remembers. Michael Palin also introduces himself during this audio track and chips in a few times with a comment here and a comment there. Gilliam’s commentary while quite technical is very interesting as he seems to remember everything like it was yesterday, down to table sizes and who stood on what box and where. Enthralling stuff.

An Interview with Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam follows this where they sit on a sofa and chat about parts of the film including an amusing part in the script which called for Sean Connery or a cheaper actor of the same statue to play a certain part. Miraculously they managed to actually get Sean in to play the part which they were totally shocked about. There is some interesting talk on how the invisible barrier came about, and talk of several things which didn’t get filmed including the Spider Women and their den. Running for twenty seven minutes, this is presented in 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced.  

My God, that jacket is evil!
The Trailer is included and while quite dirty it is pretty funny. Making a mockery of the evil voice over man, this trailer is typical Python and will be sure to at least raise a smile on your face. The Time Bandits Scrapbook is a series of photos from production, wardrobe and whatever you call the people that make all the models used in the film. Nothing spectacular but a few interesting photos of the models and potential costumes for the film. This feature runs in at nearly three minutes. Several pages of Storyboards will have you believing that even you could make a film. Some of them are truly shocking and how anyone could understand what was going on in a particular scene is anyone’s guess. The Missing Scene is unfortunately not a deleted scene, but a scene never filmed and therefore it is just a storyboard again, but with lines from the script inserted at appropriate places.

The feature entitled Treatment is I assume a movie-person term for the basis of the story. A short overview of the original concept of the story makes a worthwhile read, making sure you pay attention to the name of the copyright holder and under what company he has it registered. Do not watch the feature Dream Facts unless you want some vivid spoilers for the film which I shall not detail here, needless to say, you might be surprised to see some of this feature after you have watched the film to see what you missed out on.

Two photo galleries follow on from this, one with shots from Production and the other as a Photo Gallery, which means basic frames from the film. Rounding off the extras are Film Notes and Biographies of Gilliam, Connery, Palin and David Rappaport who played Randal, the head dwarf. Animated menus with sound set this DVD up as a great presentation, not to be ignored.

You were perhaps expecting something less ridiculous?
It is a classic film which is finally presented well on a disc with several decent extras. The acting is good throughout, and while aimed at children like for instance a Pokemon film, this should have a place amongst any adults DVD collection unlike said transforming cartoon robo-monsters. While this is not a recent film and the budget was not massive, the special effects are certainly above average and listening to the commentary will inform you of how several of the effects were created. It makes a change for the best version of a DVD to be on Region 2, particluarly when there is also a Criterion edition to chose from, so if you are after a copy or thinking of upgrading to this version even with the slight lip-syncing problems I would suggest it is a sound purchase. I’m a fan of the cast and the film so all I can say is, c’est magnifique.