Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-ray Review: Time Bandits

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Todd Erwin, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    Time Bandits


    Studio: Image Entertainment
    US Release Date: August 24, 2010
    Original Release Year: 1981
    Rated: PG
    Running Time: 117 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
    Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
    Subtitles: None

    Movie: 4.5 out of 5
    Considered by many to be a modern classic, Time Bandits is an imaginative fantasy that has appealed to both adults and children alike over the 29 years since its initial theatrical release in 1981, and has been released numerous times on home video, by several different studios, in varying degrees of quality. Young Kevin (Craig Warnock) leads a pretty dull life in suburban England, his only form of escape coming from history books. His parents are addicted to game shows and household appliances, and prefer that Kevin eat his dinner, do his homework, and go to bed, as quietly as he can. One night, a group of little men, lead by Randall (David Rappaport) burst out of his dresser. This troupe of would-be thieves have stolen a map from the Supreme Being (Sir Ralph Richardson) that contains portals that allow time travel, and they take Kevin along on their adventure as they are being chased by the Supreme Being and tracked by Evil Genius (David Warner).

    As they travel through time, they meet up with historical legends portrayed by an all-star cast, including Napoleon (Ian Holm), Robin Hood (John Cleese), and King Agamemnon (Sean Connery, in what can only be called a casting coup). David Warner is the real treat to watch as Evil Genius, chewing the scenery and monologuing about how he understands technology better than the Supreme Being.

    Written by former Monty Python members Terry Gilliam and Michael Pailn, Time Bandits is a wonderful blend of time travel, childhood fantasy, with elements of The Wizard of Oz thrown in for good measure. The film solidified Gilliam as a director (this was his most successful film in the US), who would later go on to direct such films as Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 12 Monkeys, and most recently, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

    Video: 2.5 out of 5
    Image Entertainment brings Time Bandits to Blu-ray in a 1080i transfer in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and encoded with the AVC codec. That’s right, 1080i, not 1080p. That was not a typo on the back cover. The print used for this transfer doesn’t help, either, which is riddled with dirt and scratches. The image overall is a bit soft, although colors are consistent and flesh tones are accurate. The contrast is off, as well, resulting in dark greys, at best. One has to wonder if this is the same DiviMax master that Anchor Bay created for their 2004 DVD release.

    Audio: 3.5 out of 5
    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack fairs much better, with increased fidelity and dynamic range. However, the film’s original stereo roots are quite evident, as there are no real discrete surround effects, and little to no LFE action, in the English mixes. Still, dialogue is intelligible and well-centered, and Mike Moran’s score benefits from the lossless DTS soundtrack.

    Special Features: 2 out of 5
    Interview With Terry Gilliam (18:12): This is a rather dull interview, with questions being asked on a title card rather than by an actual person. Gilliam answers them quite cheerfully, but no timeline is provided as to when the interview was recorded.

    Trailer (3:09): The international trailer is featured, which is an odd piece of advertising. Although it contains clips from the movie, the voiceovers remind me of Python at its worst, rather than best.

    Overall: 3 out of 5
    A problematic video transfer and lack of interesting bonus material knocks the overall rating for this disc down considerably, despite the classic status of the feature and a decent audio mix. A film like Time Bandits deserves better. Evil Genius would be most displeased with the use of technology.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Ouch! How disappointing.
     
  3. Adam Gregorich

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    Thanks for the review Todd. My copy arived yesterday from Amazon and I did a double-take at the 1080i on the back. It looks like their strategy was to invest nothing in it and price it accordingly, rather then spend some money to do it right and charge more for the release. Hopefully this doesn't indicate the start of a new trend of lesser quality "budget Blu-rays".
     
  4. cineMANIAC

    cineMANIAC Cinematographer
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    Don't give them any ideas. Why stop at 1080i...next thing you know they'll put movies out in 720.
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    1080i doesn't equal "poor quality". MPI's recent release of The Good, The Bad, The Weird came from a 1080i master, and it looks splendid. And 1080i isn't anything new for Image. I've seen it on several Image titles I've reviewed.
     
  6. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    • My region 2 (locked) copy from Optimum looks pretty splendid, and doesn't look to have the issues mentioned above. It, too, is lacking features, which is why I put the Blu in a 3-disc case along with the Criterion DVD that has commentary, and the DiviMax DVD bonus features disc. Pretty decent custom special edition!
     
  7. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    Old thread, I know. But Walmart had the Time Bandits Blu for $8 and I picked it up. I have the Divimax. Anybody know if it's an upgrade from Divimax or should I just take it back and wait. I'm thinking about taking it back and waiting. Thanks in advance. :)
     
  8. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    Magic 8-ball says "all signs point to yes" Can't believe I will be return a time Bandits bluray. Just crazy. I think evil is to blame.
     

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