Studio: Image Entertainment
US Release Date: August 24, 2010
Original Release Year: 1981
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)
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.