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Plot: An intense film about time travel, this Sci-Fi entry was directed by Terry Gilliam, a member of the comedy troupe Monty Python. The film stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a prisoner of the state in the year 2035 who can earn parole if he agrees to travel back in time and thwart a devastating… Runtime: 129 min Release Date: 08 Dec 1995
Terry Gilliam's fantastic, twisted story of a virus destroying all but a handful of people across the Earth and forcing them to move underground and the man sent back in time to gather information about it is a fantastic, dizzying, and highly stylized film that boasts Bruce Willis' best performance ever.What sets 12 Monkeys apart from most time-travel sci-fi movies is that Bruce Willis character actually deals with what the psychological effects of time-travel, that is, not knowing what reality is actual reality: the place that the time-traveler comes from or goes to. Also, the film <more>
recognizes that things that have past cannot be altered and that the prevention of a cataclysmic event, in this case the release of said virus, cannot be stopped or changed. As Willis asserts "It's already happened," while he's in a mental hospital, the major dilemma the film trudges into is not a trite, overdone plot to save the world; instead it's Willis' inner struggle to simply survive himself. It's a fresh, innovative concept, and it works beautifully thanks to a tautly written script by Peoples and Gilliam's unique brand of dementia.Besides this, 12 Monkey's storytelling is totally non-linear and instead opts to distort and bend the way the story is told skillfully incorporating a bevy of different time sequences: flashbacks, dreams, memories, the present, the past, the future, and even a scene that is lifted out of Hitchcock's Vertigo. All serve to envelop the viewer into its disturbing cacophony of madness and futility.Visually, Gilliam is a master of desolate umbrage and shadow rivalling Tim Burton in his strikingly despondent scenery and imagery. With cold, wide, and immersing cinematography, Gilliam plunges into the colorless surroundings and darkness of his characters. The scenes are often bathed in a strangely antiseptic, dead white and help serve as a contrast to the often veering-on-madness characters.Performance-wise, Brad Pitt steals most scenes, filling them with a patented loony, off-the-wall performance that deservedly garnered him an Oscar nomination. As mentioned, Bruce Willis gives the best performance of his career, not reverting to his heroic cliches and cardboard hero and instead portraying Cole as a simple, poignant, tragic everyman. Equally good is Madeline Stowe as Willis' psychologist. She holds her own, injecting her character with both wild energy and strength as she collapses under the weight of what she comes to believe is a false 'religion.'Gilliam's expert, overwhelming, and complex handling of what could have been a routine action/sci-fi film makes 12 Monkeys a compelling vision of a nightmarish, futuristic landscape. Its rich, well-thought out, intricate storyline along with bravura performances from the entire cast and its brooding, bleak cinematography make it a masterpiece of madness. Ranking in my top 10 of all time, 12 Monkeys is a darkly lavish spectacle of a film brimming with brilliance.10 out of 10
Terry Gilliam: Visionary - 12 Monkeys: Vision (by ToldYaSo)
I had the privilege of seeing this film at a preview screening years ago, and outside the theater I was confronted by a camera crew from a local TV station looking for comments on the film. At the time, the only words that escaped my mouth were "Awesome. Just awesome." I like to think I can articulate myself a little better than that, but at the time I was somewhat incapable of doing so.The story is intriguing and thought provoking, and the acting is first rate from all the principals. This film was the first one that Terry Gilliam directed that he didn't have a hand in the <more>
writing credit for. Back with Universal after his long, arduous battle with them over "Brazil", Terry had achieved what he wanted most; the "final cut". Terry is a master craftsman, and each shot is like a beautifully conceived painting that has been constructed carefully with determination and conviction. It is only justice that such an individual should be unfettered in his attempts to convey a concept. Unfortunately, limitations still exist in such arrangements.The Universal Collector's Edition DVD of this film is simply amazing, although most of the bonus features aren't listed on the box. It contains among other things, a director/producer audio commentary and an informative and extremely interesting 90 minute documentary on the making of the film called "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of 12 Monkeys". It tells of some of the creative pitfalls in filmmaking, including a test of mettle when preview screenings tested poorly, striking the team with feelings of self-doubt and despair. Fortunately, for all of us, they decided to change very little about the film and released it to an enormous success.
Trying to Save the Future, Which Is the Past (by nycritic)
Stories about the possibility of a post-apocalyptic future have been around for ages, since the very creation of science-fiction as a genre per se. The fact that today's society is responsible for what may become of the future in the near tomorrow, and that our own abuses and refusals to see what is right before out eyes are at the very center of all of these stories, whether they are good or bad.Terry Gilliam of course is a natural for this kind of film. He gives the movie a decadent feel throughout, showing a society run ragged by its own excesses and bringing forth the a sense of <more>
imminent tragedy despite having moments of comedy. His world, the world in which TWELVE MONKEYS transpires, is a place where the mad run wild, where cities are collapsing in filth and neglect, where everything reeks of foreboding despite the luminosity of the opening sequence, where madness looms at every corner. This is a very dark movie, but his very best, most linear despite the plot twists which hold up under examination , and one which gets better with repeated viewings.A tragic event in which a deadly virus was unleashed onto humanity in 1996 and thus led to the extermination of Life On The Planet As We Have Known It leads to scientists of the future to try and make amends to change humanity's fate on the Earth by employing renegade citizens -- the scum of the Earth -- as guinea pigs to go back in time, among them one James Cole underplayed to great effect by Bruce Willis . Cole could be any person. We don't know anything about him, but in a way, that doesn't matter since he is little more than one of many expendable volunteers and hints of his character sneak in later as he gets closer to fulfilling his mission. What we do know is that he is a man who dreams, and his dreams may have been reality: he may have already been at the scene of the Event of 1996.It's this constant sense of deja vu that keeps popping up throughout the movie. When taken to a mental ward by mistake in 1990 he meets Jeffrey Goines spastically played by Brad Pitt, Oscar-nominated here who frantically spews forth talk about doom and destruction, and later Cole believes he has seen Goines in his recurring dream as a man pushing a boy aside while escaping... what? He doesn't know. Later he meets a psychologist, Kathryn Railly Madeleine Stowe , and one of her first reactions to him is that he's insane, and that she's seen him before. This becomes a running notion throughout her participation in this story from passive/resistant to active and even slightly crazy believer that Something Terrible is coming This Way, especially when she meets him six years later: she has seen Cole before. At the same time, Cole continues talking about a dream he keeps having in which she also plays a part as a blonde woman running down the aisle, screaming for help, after shots have rung out and a particular red-headed man in a ponytail Jeffrey Goines? has apparently escaped, not before pushing the little boy who is an innocent bystander. The questions arise: have these events happened? Are they going to happen? Who is really a part of this, or better yet -- is everyone, down to the smallest player, a part of a Greater Plot? Or is this all some trick in the fabric of time in which Time in itself is one huge conveyor belt showing repetitions of fragments of events that slide by over and over again? These questions are formulated in a masterful sequence which includes key scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece VERTIGO in which Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton mourns her own brief existence "You took no notice," she says, as Cole and Railly watch from their seats in the movie theatre they are hiding in . Snippets of dialog from VERTIGO form a foil to the dialog between Railly and Cole and later, when Cole awakens from having apparently dozed off in the theatre and goes looking for Railly, he comes face-to-face with her in disguise looking almost exactly like Eva Maria Saint from NORTH BY NORTHWEST as the swelling Bernard Herrmann score plays the emergence of Judy Barton, dressed as Madeleine Elster. It's a fascinating sequence, more so because of the most improbable occurrence of the names of the actors in both films: Madeleine Stowe plays Kathryn Railly who dons a blond wig and grey trench-coat and calls herself "Judy Simmons" while helping an "insane" man named James Cole; James Stewart plays a detective who tries to help "insane" Madeleine Elster who will later re-appear not once, but twice, first as brunette Judy Barton, and later, as Madeleine. Action and re-enaction, play and re-play.
these monkeys will go to heaven... (by dbdumonteil)
"Twelve monkeys"'s got all the elements to become Terry Gilliam's masterpiece. An outstanding screenplay, a sustained rhythm, clever sometimes ironic dialogs. Moreover, he had a good nose about the cast. "Twelve monkeys" is also the first movie where Bruce Willis stands back from the kind of character he used to play in his previous movies. Here, a jaded and hopeless character which you could nickname a prisoner took over from a fearless and invincible hero as it was the case in "Die hard" . No matter how he tries, he's a prisoner of the time. The <more>
movie contains a very thrilling end too. It's got a real dramatic power. But this terrific movie is also a reflection about man, the dangers he dreads notably, the ones that could cause the end of the world and here, these are virus that can create illnesses . No matter how long it will take, "twelve monkeys" will be estimated at its true value: one of the masterpieces made in the nineties.
So you're telling me those people in the mental institution are... crazy? (by Smells_Like_Cheese)
Just kidding, I rented 12 Monkeys the other day because I am a huge Bruce Willis fan and I heard some things about the film. Some good and some bad, but it was one of those films you had to pay attention to every second, so I was a bit worried. Just because I felt like for a minute if this was going to be one of those films that I had to watch several times to get. But I watched it last night and I was really impressed, this movie had everything in it: action, drama, sci-fi, history, dark humor, and even a little romance. The actors all did a terrific job, I give a lot of credit to Bruce, <more>
during his scene in the car with his psychiatrist, he really got to me. But Brad Pitt, I'm just amazed with how much of a great job he did. He didn't over do his character, who was crazy, and just made it work and was extremely believable. The story was just scary, but very good and a wake up call.James Cole is a man in the future where a virus broke out in the past and killed 5 billion people and only 1% of the population survived including him. Animals are now ruling the ground above while the humans are down below, but scientists send James to the past of 1990 really meaning to send him to '96 , to find out about information of the virus. James gets put into a mental institution meeting his new psychiatrist, Dr. Kathryn Raily and another mental patient, Jeffrey Goines. He tells them the future, of course no one believes him, he goes back to the future. But the scientists send him back to the correct year to where the doctor is kidnapped by James, but he tells her more, and believes him. Now they are set on trying to prevent the virus from ever happening.12 Monkeys was an incredible film. Like I said the story was so scary just because it's not at all hard to believe that we are not far from that happening. But the whole movie was just great, the cast, the sets, just the whole picture was a great one. It had a Terminator type of feel to it where we might loose something precious one day, ourselves if we don't listen to others. What is right and what is wrong? Who knows? But I would highly recommend 12 Monkeys, it's a great movie that if you give it the proper chance, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.9/10
The big problem is where to begin as this movie needs your attention the forthcoming two hours and you better not miss some minutes for getting a coke as there is a danger you can't follow. But good there is also a pause-button. Bruce Willis must travel into a timemachine to find out some antivirus for a virus that made animals rule over the world in 1996. Thanks to some mistakes he first ends up in 1990, then in the First World War and how messed up it all might look like, Terry Gilliam comes up with what must be one of the most intelligent scripts ever. This ex-Monty Phyton man knows <more>
exactly how genius SF-stories has to be told like and his choice of cast couldn't have been any better, there is the lunatic Brad Pitt his performance in the asylum is memorable and a superb Bruce Willis who proves he is more than some Schwarzenegger-wanna be. It's a movie you can watch over and over again as the script is so weird and complicated and yet you can follow that every view gives you other surprises. One of my big favourites.
Full of Gillian-isms, Empty of Willis-isms - in a good way... (by j30bell)
There is a story possibly apocryphal about an exchange between Bruce Willis and Terry Gilliam at the start of Twelve Monkeys. Gilliam allegedly produced a long list think about the aircraft one from the Fifth Element and handed it to Butch Bruce. It was entitled "Things Bruce Willis Does When He Acts". It ended with a simple message saying: "please don't do any of the above in my movie".There is a fact about this movie definitely true . Gilliam didn't have a hand in the writing.I would contend that these two factors played a huge role in creating the <more>
extraordinary if not commercial success that is The Twelve Monkeys.Visually, the Twelve Monkeys is all that we have rightly come to expect from a Gilliam film. It is also full of Gilliamesque surrealism and general but magnificent strangeness. Gilliam delights in wrong-footing his audience. Although the ending of the Twelve Monkeys will surprise no one who has sat through the first real, Gilliam borrows heavily from Kafka in the clockwork, bureaucratic relentless movement of the characters towards their fate. It is this journey, and the character developments they undergo, which unsettles.I love Gilliam films Brazil, in particular . But they do all tend to suffer from the same weakness. He seems to have so many ideas, and so much enthusiasm, that his films almost invariably end up as a tangled mess Brazil, in particular . I still maintain that Brazil is Gilliam's tour de force, but there's no denying that The Twelve Monkey's is a breath of fresh air in the tight-plotting department. Style, substance and form seem to merge in a way not usually seen from the ex-Python.Whatever the truth of the rumour above, Gilliam also manages to get a first rate and very atypical performance out of the bald one. Bruce is excellent in this film, as are all the cast, particularly a suitably bonkers - and very scary - Brad Pitt.It's been over a decade since this film was released. When I watched it again, I realised that it hadn't really aged. I had changed, of course. And this made me look at the film with fresh eyes. This seems to me to be a fitting tribute to a film that, partly at least, is about reflections in mirrors, altered perspectives and the absurd one-way journey through time that we all make. A first rate film. 8/10.
Twelve Monkeys — Ready for a slow crude take on a fatal pandemic? (by AvidClimber)
Twelve Monkeys is the kind of movie that gets much better with time. With each subsequent viewing, you start appreciating something new, understanding the story a little bit more, and linking new plots elements. I'm saying this because the settings and scenes are rather crude and unpleasant to assimilate, even though the final product is incredible.The good. Tight logical story. Engrossing scenario that gets better with time. Excellent acting. Interesting treatment of a fairly common theme. Great details. Nice conception of the future.The actors. Bruce Willis plays the dislocated and <more>
slightly unhinged hero to perfection. Great acting. Madeleine Stowe is just right as the unwilling but open-minded participant. Brad Pitt's mad interpretation is pure genius and an obvious precursor of his role in Fight Club review still to come .The bad. The whole flick will not please everybody for its gruesome take, the slow development, and the logical conclusion, which I must admit is as it should be. It is morally disappointing and a slightly simple considering the circumvolutions of the story itself.The ugly. Nothing ugly there, but the rawness of it all.The result. Watch it. Let a year go by. Watch it again.
Shows far more originality than 99% of films. (by eagle_owl)
Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a man from a future where the world has been devastated by a deadly virus, who is chosen to go back in time and try to find out how this came about.Directed by Terry Gilliam, Twelve Monkeys bears many similarities with his earlier film Brazil, but somehow feels more complete. Brazil was a weird, and at times brilliant futuristic parable, with crazy characters offset against grim cityscapes. However it failed to mesh into a coherent whole, and had a plot that amounted to little more than a dash from one mad sketch to another.Twelve Monkeys largely succeeds in <more>
improving on the things that didn't work in Brazil. Gilliam has reined in some of his more bizarre ideas, and paid more attention to keeping the plot moving, making this a far more balanced work. Even so, Gilliam remains true to his own uniquely quirky style, making Twelve Monkeys strikingly different from the average science fiction film.Bruce Willis plays a character far removed from his usual action movie stereotype. As a man set adrift in a strange world, he demonstrates that he can do more than just blow up buildings. Brad Pitt also gives a terrific performance as a mental patient, although it does become a tad irritating after a while.Being a time travel film, there are many plot holes in Twelve Monkeys, but this is unavoidable in any film on this theme, since whatever approach is taken to the possibilities of time travel you are bound to create inconsistencies. For example, this film's notion is that the time in which Cole lives is the present, and everything up until this point has already happened, so it is impossible to change the past. However, surely every action that Cole takes in the past must impact on events in some small way, through the very fact of his presence.Twelve Monkeys is an ambitious and impressive film. Of course many of its ideas are derivative, but it shows far more originality than 99% of films. It succeeds in being simultaneously entertaining and thought provoking, and deserves to be regarded as one of the best science fiction films of the 90's.