Time Bandits appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the image looked splendid.
Bandits has never been a great-looking movie, so this Blu-ray doesn’t suddenly turn into into a visual stunner like Blade Runner. That said, it also never looked better.
Overall sharpness seemed strong, with an image that usually seemed distinctive and well-defined. A little softness appeared at times, virtually all of which stemmed from the source material. Even with those moments, I thought the movie presented positive delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I noticed no edge haloes. With a nice layer of grain, the movie showed no issues with digital noise reduction, and print flaws created no problems. This was a consistently clean presentation.
The palette of Bandits varied dependent on setting. For instance, the Robin Hood segment went with a green feel, while Crete seemed more sandy and arid. These tones actually came across as natural; the colors reflected the circumstances more than any artificial processing. The hues seemed well-rendered and appropriate for the film.
Blacks showed good depth and density. Shadows were smooth and clear, with only a smidgen of thickness apparent on a few occasions. Those weren’t problematic elements, though, and the low-light shots usually came across with nice smoothness. I felt quite pleased with the transfer of Bandits.
The LPCM Stereo soundtrack of Time Bandits also worked nicely. In terms of the soundfield, the front channels managed to open up matters in a fairly good manner. Music showed nice spread to the sides and gave us quality stereo imaging.
Effects followed suit. With a fair amount of action on display, we got a good variety of components on the sides. These moved well and meshed together in a satisfying manner. Of course, the soundscape reflected the limitations of its age, but I thought it presented a pleasing array.
Audio quality had ups and downs but was usually fine. At times, a bit of edginess affected speech, but the lines mostly seemed relatively natural, and the lines remained intelligible at all times. Effects also suffered from occasional distortion, but they generally sounded acceptably accurate, and they demonstrated decent heft when necessary.
The film’s score fared best of all. The music seemed full and rich, with crisp highs and warm lows. That was the best aspect of this track, a somewhat inconsistent affair that still seemed strong enough to merit an age-based “B”.
This 2014 Criterion Blu-ray becomes the focus of my fourth Time Bandits review. First I examined the 1999 Criterion DVD, and then I checked out the 2004 Anchor Bay “Divimax” DVD. Finally, I wrote up the 2010 Anchor Bay Blu-ray.
Each of the prior releases had its ups and downs, though the Criterion DVD and the Anchor Bay Blu-ray were more “downs” than anything else. The Divimax DVD was the most satisfying of the earlier discs, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the Criterion Blu-ray. The 2014 BD offered the clearest, smoothest audio of the bunch as well as audio that was cleaner, tighter and more natural than any of its predecessors. Everything on display here worked better than in any of the other releases.
The 2014 Criterion Blu-ray mixes old and new components, and we open with an audio commentary with director Terry Gilliam, actor/co-writer Michael Palin, and actors Craig Warnock, John Cleese, and David Warner. All of them were recorded separately for this edited track.
Gilliam dominates the piece as he covers many components of the production. Actually, he goes over pretty much everything; from sets to stunts to effects to the origins of the story to the script to working with the actors, it’s all here. Gilliam tosses in a lot of great stories from the set as well and makes his part fun and entertaining.
Warnock shows up the second highest amount of time and he gives us a nice “kid’s eye” view of the proceedings. Palin lets us know how he and Gilliam collaborated on the script and provides a few other details about the flick. Warner and Cleese give us some notes related to their parts and help flesh out the commentary. Overall it’s a very solid and informative discussion.
The next three elements are new to the Blu-ray. Creating the Worlds of Time Bandits lasts 23 minutes, 24 second and includes notes from production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson. Inevitably, costume and production design areas dominate the piece, but along with narration from film writer David Morgan, we also find info about characters, working with Gilliam, locations, and effects. The program gives us a good collection of details and turns into an informative piece.
From 1998, we find a Conversation Between Director Terry Gilliam and Film Scholar Peter von Bagh. Recorded at the Finnish Midnight Sun Film Festival, the chat lasts one hour, 19 minutes, 39 seconds as we learn about Gilliam’s family, early life and influences, his entry into cartooning/animation/film, his career with Monty Python and then his time in feature films.
The last subject dominates “Conversation”, and we get plenty of interesting thoughts from Gilliam. It’s tough to think of many interviews/commentaries in which Gilliam doesn’t deliver an enjoyable experience, and this one follows that path. It barely touches on Time Bandits but that shouldn’t keep viewers from it.
Taken from a 1981 episode of the Tomorrow Show, we get an Interview with Actor Shelley Duvall. The excerpt runs eight minutes, 46 seconds and provides Duvall’s thoughts about her career and films. Host Tom Snyder becomes a hyperactive interviewer, so the chat flits from one topic to another with both alacrity and illogic. This feels like a decent period piece but it never becomes especially interesting or informative.
Within a Stills Gallery, we find a mix of photos. This area provides 24 shots from the film set. It delivers a moderately intriguing set of snaps, though I’d like it to be longer.
Finally, the disc offers a surprisingly good trailer. Yeah, I know that many other discs toss in trailers, but few are as interesting and entertaining as this one. It's in a satirical vein and its irreverence reminded me vaguely of Rob Reiner's "cheese-rolling" promos for This Is Spinal Tap. It’s a hoot.
We also get a fold-out booklet. It shows a replica of the movie’s map along with an essay from film critic David Sterritt. While not one of Criterion’s best efforts, it offers value.
Although I find fault with the film, I enjoy Time Bandits enough that the movie comes recommended. It sags at around the mid-point, but it still packs more than enough lively and amusing material to merit a look. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a fairly informative set of supplements. Criterion delivers by far the best-ever home vide representation of
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of TIME BANDITS