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DVD Review

DVD cover

Twelve Monkeys (1995)
(2021 Reissue)


Starring: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt and Christopher Plummer
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 December 2020

It’s the year 2035. Only one percent of the Earth’s population has survived following a catastrophic disaster. They live underground while the animals and insects claim the old cities. ‘Volunteers’ are picked to suit-up and risk the uninhabitable surface. One such person is ex-violent criminal Cole (Bruce Willis). After a successful excursion, he is put before scientists and chosen to be sent to the past. He thinks it is 1996 – the time that the Twelve Monkeys phenomenon first appeared – but he is really in 1990. His sometimes violent attempts to warn people of what is about to happen land him in a insane asylum. Only Dr Kathryn Railly (Madeline Stowe) listens to his ravings. She has the distinct feeling she has seen him before. Armed with only two clues, together they must solve the puzzle of the Twelve Monkeys before humanity is made completely extinct...

Receiving this Limited Edition DVD version of Twelve Monkeys for review throws me back to when I had the original video release of the film. That is an irony in itself considering the nature of the plot. My first impression back then was that the story was left open and the film consequently not properly finished. However, a satisfactory conclusion isn’t always the most important part of a movie’s structure. So, a number of years and thousands of viewed films later I find myself with a different opinion. I’m not keen on films which are tied-up in neat little packages and are obliged to explain themselves. The way I look at this now is Cause and Effect. Time will not be compromised; any attempt to change it will throw you into a time loop.

Twelve Monkeys was inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetee. This film wears the cloak of a science fiction, but breaking it down to its bare bones it’s something like The Butterfly Effect mixed with Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day. Then, thrown into the stew is Environmentalists, Political Activists and Insanity. It’s certainly a good romp, but it’s not the revelation it is claimed to be by some – although I’ll admit it’s arguably more relevant than it ever has been since the initial cinematic release.

Bruce Willis and Madeline Stowe are good together as the two key characters. Both reportedly took a pay cut in order to work with Terry Gilliam, who saw this as a premise similar to his previous film, Brazil. Willis was given acting cliches to avoid by Gilliam, including the steely-eyed stare. The revelation here is the performance by newcomer Brad Pitt. Terry Gilliam was uncertain whether Pitt could play the required crazy/eccentric part, and so sent him to a voice coach. Subsequently, he discovered he need only have taken away the man’s cigarettes! Between the end of filming and the release of the film Brad Pitt’s star was in the ascendancy, having appeared in Interview With  a Vampire, Legends of the Fall, and Seven.

Extra features include: a Feature Length Documentary The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys; and the Strictly Limited Edition contains a Twelve Monkeys Pandemic Mask.


Ty Power

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