DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Time Bandits: Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Feb 9, 2004.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    Time Bandits
    Special Edition





    Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Year: 1981

    US Rating: PG

    Film Length: 116 minutes
    Genre: Fantasy

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced
    Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX & English 2.0 Surround

    SRP: US$24.98





    Release Date: January 27, 2004


    Movie Rating
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    They didn’t make history…they stole it!”

    From director Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 12 Monkeys) comes a family time-traveling adventure with witty comedy and lots of fun! Anchor Bay Entertainment has released Time Bandits as a two-disc special edition honoring the director’s second directorial debut.

    After working for over ten years with the Monty Python crew in productions such as Flying Circus and two films thereafter, he pitched the idea of making a film the family could enjoy. And enjoyable it is! The story is set on six little workers of God who steal his Map of the Universe to travel through the “holes” left after those seven days of creation. They use the map for personal matters, to collect worldly riches from those people who amassed them. In their travels they meet a boy named Kevin who is taken with them. Soon they find themselves running from God and in the hands of Napoleon (Ian Holm), Robin Hood (John Cleese), King Agamemnon (Sean Connery), and even on the Titanic. But someone else is interested in the map as well – The Devil (David Warner) – and he’s looking to spread his evil all over the planet. Be careful, this is one mean guy that’ll zap you if he doesn’t like what you say.

    There are some really great moments in this film providing lots of fun and action. I think there are even some freaky images that would really spook a kid watching this movie, and the ending, while satisfying for us adults, might not be as satisfying for kids watching it. Although there are a few messages in the film I didn’t always agree with, the ending certainly holds true to the world.

    Oddly enough, the cast during the end credits does not mention any of the major talent in this film, nor their characters. Holm, Connery, Cleese, and others are not mentioned at all. I thought that as rather strange since this modestly budgeted film relied on the higher profile of these actors to raise the status of this film, which Gilliam regards as one of his most successful films. He would then go on to make other great films like 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.


    Video Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Part of the DiviMax series of Anchor Bay, this brand-new and approved High-Definition transfer looks really good. In its original 1.85:1 ratio and widescreen enhancement, this DVD is pretty clean of major artifacts. Compression artifacts and edge enhancement seem to be a non-issue, but very minor dirt specs appear throughout. They are so small they won’t distract you from the film.

    There is excellent contrast between light and dark images in daytime interiors and outdoors. Colours are slightly muted compared to the more recent films, although it’s the very ‘smooth’ look it produced that I enjoyed about it best. Darker scenes have very good shadow detail, although reds seem to look congested in these darker scenes and finer detail is less apparent. There are only three instances of major problems and its attributed to the print itself, which is a major yellow flickering with certain shots.


    Audio Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX encoding on this disc. Given Anchor Bay’s past great audio restoration projects in Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES of lesser-known films, I was disappointed with the Time Bandits soundtrack.

    The strike against this soundtrack was the lack of a true discrete 5.1 presentation. This is merely a Dolby Surround soundtrack encoded in 5.1 EX, and you can imagine what effect that would have – yes – all of the surround activity comes from the center rear channel. ALL OF IT. There is a little bit of bleeding in the left/right surround channels that I can hear if I put my head right to my speaker, but it is unnoticeable in the grand scheme of 5.1 surround. Thus, if you have your center rear channel engaged and allow the EX flag to do its decoding, there is mega-mono in the rear which can take away from the surround enjoyment. I can see why there is no DTS-ES discrete soundtrack on this disc because left/right surround would really have nothing in it at all. My guess is Anchor Bay is relying on the less-than-perfect separation of the EX decoding to provide the (very) subtle sounds coming from left/right surround when EX is engaged.

    Aside from this disappointment, the soundtrack is of 1980s fidelity with limited range in dynamics for an overall ‘flat’ sound. Sounds like gunshots, explosions, and fire don’t sound like the typical movie effects that we are used to hearing, nor do they sound like the real thing either. There isn’t much definition in the sounds when there is a lot of activity, such as the campaign scenes before we meet Napoleon.

    Dialogue is intelligible, but sometimes words from one person fade as another is talking, so we can’t make out multiple conversations. It is clean nonetheless, and just a little thinner than I’d like to hear. Bass is a disappointment, and this result is attributed to the lack of ‘body’ to those limited sounding effects. Very rarely did I head any bass in my main channels, there was none in my rear (no surprise there) and LFE is non-existent despite the “.1” designation on this soundtrack.

    The music is nicely recorded that is pleasing to listen to. It’s well balanced and spread nicely over the two main channels and the center surround (which is always limited in frequency response). The music is a little louder on occasion creating an imbalance with effects and music.


    Special Features? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The special features on this Time Bandits release appear on disc two. The features are heavily slanted to put the director in the spotlight rather than the film. Starting the list is an Interview with Michael Palin and Terry Gillam (27.27). This is a new interview that is widescreen enhanced and is the only feature that really talks about the film itself.

    Next is an episode of The Directors: The Films of Terry Gilliam (58.29) which is a career retrospective of Gilliam. It is a very good hour-long show presented in 4:3 and features clips of interviews of those who have worked with Gilliam such as Shelly Duvall, Brad Pitt, Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Ruehl, Madeleine Stowe, and David Warner. This is very informative and if you missed this show back in 2000, here is your opportunity to see it.

    Trailers are included, featuring both the International Trailer and the U.S. Trailer. Both are widescreen enhanced and the international trailer clocks in at double the time of the U.S. one, but I found it to be rather stupid than funny. After viewing it, I can’t see why anyone would want to go see the movie. It wasn’t an attention grabber, that’s for sure.

    This second disc also includes a Terry Gilliam Bio which gives a good read about his steps in his career, but is rather repetitive of what we’ve already heard on the previous features. That’ll take you about ten minutes to read through. Also included is the Screenplay of the film in .PDF format for DVD-ROM machines.

    Lastly, there is a Collector’s Booklet that folds out and is a replica of the “Map of the Universe”, and is filled with liner notes. Very cool.

    Thoughts…

    Anchor Bay has done a great job at releasing Time Bandits on DVD. I did enjoy the film, but probably would have enjoyed this movie better if I saw it as a kid. It’s entertaining for both kids and adults and generated respectable reviews and considerable box-office sales. For us preservationists, even though the film’s age shows its limitations in both the video and audio, the DVD’s quality is up to snuff and should provide you the best in the image and sound available for this entertaining film.

    Michael Osadciw
    04.02.09
     
  2. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    I bought this disc last week and I think that the 2.0 sound mix is really quite good, and I enjoyed listening to it more than the 5.1. I say go with the 2.0. The PQ is overall wonderful, and I couldn't have been happier with it.

    On a side note, I purchased this with the new Star Trek VI disc, thus instigating a David Warner Spectacular that evening.
     
  3. Eric F

    Eric F Screenwriter

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    I did see this movie as a kid and did enjoy it. It's one of my favorites, and was one of the first videotapes I purchased (and subsequently wore out).

    I just got my DiviMax in the mail and am looking forward to viewing it.
     
  4. MartEvans

    MartEvans Stunt Coordinator

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    Anyone who is upgrading from Criterion's version will marvel at the improvement in pq - it's night and day [​IMG] It's just a shame they couldn't get hold of the commentary track [​IMG]
     
  5. Eric F

    Eric F Screenwriter

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    This was also one of the first DVDs I purchased 4yrs ago. I was so dissapointed in the 1st Anchor Bay edition I could never get all the way through it.

    Just as long as it looks good.
     
  6. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Can't wait to get this in the mail!!! GREAT review!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. PaulEB

    PaulEB Stunt Coordinator

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    Excellent review and movie. First time I have watched it and loved it! The Directors piece is also good. I wish the commentary could have been included. Can't wait for Terry Gilliam's next film!
     
  8. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    Michael

    Overall a good review but it is missing one very important thing - no mention of the Criterion version anywhere in the body of the review. This is important since, I am sure, a lot of members have the Criterion version and may need a compelling reason to double-dip.
     
  9. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    Michael,

    The picture quality on this new version blows the Criterion out of the water. It's really beautiful, and it's anamorphic to boot. Combine that with its low cost (bought it for under $15), and it's a pretty refreshing double-dip.
     
  10. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    Well, I never thought I would say I've "upgraded" from a Criterion disc, but this really is a great new transfer. The "5.1" track is disappointing, but since 2-channel is the original audio and that's here, it still works.

    I wish they could have licensed the Criterion commentary, but it's definitely worth the double-dip for the new transfer. The "Directors" episode is a good addition, too.
     
  11. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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    The Criterion disc was good, but the pic quality sucked. This is one movie I'll gladly do a double dip.
     

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