I have to wonder what kind of kid Terry Gilliam was in school. Probably the one who spent all day staring out the window, dreaming up all sorts of fantastic images and adventures. One who spent too much time in his room alone with his encyclopedias, comic books, and fantasy novels. That’s how Time Bandits feels to me, a delirious adventure through a grown up child’s wild imagination.
Kevin is bookish kid, one who spends all of his time reading about history and adventure. It’s in sharp contrast to his parents, who spend all their time sitting on their plastic-covered furniture watching gameshows and bickering about kitchen appliances. From the start, you know this isn’t a subtle movie.
One night, Kevin is awakened by a knight bursting from his closet on horseback and riding off into the forest… something everyone can relate to. Of course, it’s all a dream, or is it? The next night, he stays up, hoping to see it again. Instead, what he finds are a group of dwarves emerging from his closet. Soon he finds himself grouped in with them, on the run from the Supreme Being across time and space.
You see, the dwarves have a map of time and space that allows them to find portals to different times and places. Using this map, they hope to become the greatest thieves ever. But Evil wants the map as well, so that he can overcome the Supreme Being and establish his own world, one of technology and science.
The movie soon becomes a delirious ride through all sorts of fantastic settings, some real and some that only come from Gilliam’s imagination. It soon becomes obvious that Gilliam’s imagination sometimes outpaces the film. And sometimes, it gets bogged down in the mire of the dwarves antics, as they bicker back and forth. But for the most part, it’s a thrilling ride that could have only come from the mind of Terry Gilliam, along with some bery interesting ruminations on good, evil, and even God.
If you’re not used to Gilliam’s… um… unique cinematic vision, this film might just be a bit much for you. But trust me… it’s far better than that 12 Monkeys.