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Time Bandits (1981)


Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 39
Fresh: 36
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: Time Bandits is a remarkable time-travel fantasy from Terry Gilliam, who utilizes fantastic set design and homemade special effects to create a vivid, original universe.

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 6
Fresh: 5
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: Time Bandits is a remarkable time-travel fantasy from Terry Gilliam, who utilizes fantastic set design and homemade special effects to create a vivid, original universe.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 48,732



Movie Info

A young boy joins a group of renegade dwarves on an unpredictable journey through time in this humorous fantasy. Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam mostly achieves a tricky balancing act in his second feature as sole director, creating a dark, irreverent comedy disguised as a family adventure. Particularly amusing are the boy's encounters with various historical figures, including an entertainment-starved Napoleon (Ian Holm), a powerful Agamemnon (Sean Connery), and a surprisingly stuffy Robin … More

Action & Adventure , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
Terry Gilliam , Michael Palin
In Theaters:
Mar 30, 1999
Paramount Home Video


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Critic Reviews for Time Bandits

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (3) | DVD (33)

When you can count the laughs in a comedy on the fingers of one hand, it isn't so funny.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
Top Critic

The film is resolutely, passionately antiadult, yet much of the humor has an adult sophistication and edge to it; this is one kids' movie that doesn't condescend.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Gilliam fills the screen with bizarre images, and directs with a breathless ingenuity.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Amazingly well-produced. The historic locations are jammed with character and detail. This is the only live-action movie I've seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A cheerfully irreverent lark -- part fairy tale, part science fiction and part comedy.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Perhaps the greatest characteristic attributable to Time Bandits is its sense of invention. The movie does so many things, all of them well.

Full Review… | November 14, 2002
Top Critic

Ex-Python Gilliam is one of the great conjurers of cinema, and this film is proof of his ample and unpredictable talent.

Full Review… | November 22, 2013
Radio Times

This is an enterprising project in free-form cinema; it's just not very entertaining.

Full Review… | November 22, 2013
People Magazine

Frequent bursts of twisted humour, several flashes of horror and a ton of first-class Brit cameos combine to ensure their movie never ages.

Full Review… | December 7, 2012
Total Film

An intoxicating dose of children's entertainment of the rarest and weirdest and most delirious kind.

Full Review… | December 26, 2011
Antagony & Ecstasy

Fun fantasy has a bit of bite.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011
Common Sense Media

Adults will get this movie, but kids won't.

Full Review… | September 23, 2010
Common Sense Media

one of the greatest of children's fantasy movies

Full Review… | September 2, 2010
Q Network Film Desk

A smart and imaginative fantasy with appeal for the whole family is always cause for celebration...Time Bandits rivals Roald Dahl in its surrealism and satire. [Blu-ray]

Full Review… | August 29, 2010
Groucho Reviews

Time Bandits remains Fantasy 101, and a must-see for people who enjoy this kind of fare.

Full Review… | August 23, 2010

It's a film for kids that adults really will enjoy. A feast for the eyes with great gags and an intelligent and well realised morality.

Full Review… | March 19, 2008

This film is unusually dark for a modern children's film. At times a grimly comic fairy tale, Time Bandits offers little reassurance. It's a tough world out there--even in our imaginative life. Perhaps that is why we need heroes so badly.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Over praised but imaginative sci-fi/fantasy from Monty Python minds.

November 17, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

For a kids film this is pleasingly dark with Gilliam delivering as much classical fairy tale as knockabout comedy.

Full Review… | August 30, 2006
Empire Magazine

It's...well, imagine 'Willow' on crack.

July 7, 2005

sheer genius!

July 11, 2004
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for Time Bandits


Is Terry Gilliam riding on the coattails of Monty Python with this film? his cast does include a few Python members in small cameos and the films direction is most definitely bizarre. Not only that but the film looks and sounds like a Python sketch in various places much like 'Jabberwocky' did. Not complaining just pointing it out, love the film title though and those lovely looking opening credits.

The first film in Gilliam's off the wall dream-like fantasy film trilogy where the plot basically revolves around escaping reality through imagination...or a dream. In this surreal adventure a young boy is zapped through time with the help of a bunch of dwarfs. This little team go around pinching loot trying to get rich with the aid of a map that shows them time holes to jump through time. On their tail is an evil sorcerer who wants the map for evil purposes and the maps owner the 'Supreme Being' (God?).

The film starts off in a very simple manner that is quite enjoyable. Its very similar to the later Bill and Ted franchise as we jump to the Napoleonic Wars and meet Napoleon, then to England meeting up with Robin Hood and then to Greece meeting King Agamemnon. These few segments are good fun showcasing the films main big name cameos such as a rather dull Connery as Agamemnon, a very good Ian Holm as the height obsessed Napoleon and the brilliant Cleese as a rather stiff upper lipped Robin Hood and his cutthroat band of merry men. The Robin Hood sequence is easily the best with Cleese donning a daft over sized green Hood hat and typical cliched Hood attire. He looks utterly ridiculous in his pantomime garb where as in contrast his men are a bunch of dirty filthy violent scum. The other funny angle is the fact Cleese speaks quite normally in his aloof aristocratic manner and his men don't, they are just your standard commoner oiks.

Once we are introduced to the villainous 'Evil' (that's his name) who wants the map things kinda nose dive in my opinion. The dwarf team stop time jumping and instead go on the run from Evil but end up in Evil's realm and things just become all too weird. There are some nice moments that are typically Gilliam in visual style and idea, the galleon perched on top of the underwater giants head is a good one. No real clue what the hell was going on there, why the galleon is stuck to this giants head (it appeared to be his hat), why the giant was under the sea and who or what was in that little cottage before the giant crushed it??. Looked like some kind of elephant alien person, quirky little moment but totally off the wall, they just get killed then?.

The entire final sequence where the dwarfs and little boy fight against Evil is just a mess really. This sorcerer is obviously pretty invincible yet the dwarfs conjure up all these pointless character from various time periods to fight him. I know its a young persons film but this battle is really quite hokey. Then in the end we meet the Supreme Being who turns out to be (or at least in human form) an elderly man in a suit who can't really act too well, nice concept though.

I think the main thing that I disliked in this film was the little boy in the main role. This is an old film sure and the kid actor didn't have to be a great actor I admit but damn he's fudging annoying. His soft weedy whiny voice just grates the whole time and fails to give his character any impact at all, he always begs and pleads like a baby but you can hardly hear him half the time because he's so quiet...and wet. Am I being harsh? maybe, but this kid ruins the film, should of used a girl. The squad of dwarves are the films main hook really...much like 'Willow'. None of them are particularly good actors but they are amusing and they do add to the fantasy charm. Seeing them all dressed up in their nifty warrior-like bandit outfits is kinda cool, clearly Gilliam (or someone) had this idea and knew they had to make a film around it.

The film is essentially a kids flick, an imaginative adventure for young boys who like to play war, knights, cowboys etc...In that sense the film does its job and delivers a highly imaginative yarn no doubt. As an adult watching now the film doesn't quite hit the mark for me anymore, I guess the thrill has been left behind with age coupled with the fact the film doesn't really look very good anymore. It has dated quite badly in all honesty and the effects can be a bit dodgy. Like I said the first half set in the few time periods is good but after that it gets a bit rough around the edges. The very end feels too open ended also, definitely needed a more conclusive finish.

In the end the film is a fun little ride with some nice visual ideas, but I can't help but feel without those few Python cameos this film wouldn't be half as much fun. You could say its only worth watching for the John Cleese sequence really...but that's just me.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


No Terry Gilliam film is without its flaws. His work is usually fleeting and nebulous within the confines of the narrative, which is usually whimsical in nature. Out of all of his work, I'd say that Time Bandits is his most accessible... and certainly his most successful with audiences. It's the kind of movie you would not have just taken your kids to see, but to see it yourself too. It's true that it's a bit more adult than a normal kids movie, even from this time period, but it has elements contained therein that make it feel more magical. I like it a lot, and I'm glad that it enjoyed a successful run upon release. I also hope that Terry Gilliam gets to make more films like it in the future. He's a frustrating director for a lot of people, but his work speaks for itself.

Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer


A spectacular fantasy for children and adults alike.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Five dwarves, bored with their everyday tedium, steal a map from God Himself and take it on the lam with hopes of using the purloined item to secure the usual: riches beyond their wildest dreams. And so the madcap chase is on through space and time, a bright youngster nabbed along the way simply for the helluvit. Will they get the moolah? And just who is that guy chasing them in the red tights who's laughing maniacally all the time? A treat for the kiddies that won't bore you to tears.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

Time Bandits Quotes

Supreme Being:
Dead? No excuse for laying off work.
– Submitted by Resty Dennis G (21 months ago)
What happened?
I'm sorry I killed you, Fidgit.
– Submitted by Resty Dennis G (21 months ago)
Supreme Being:
Do be careful. Don't lose any of that stuff. That's concentrated evil.
– Submitted by Resty Dennis G (21 months ago)
Mom! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!
– Submitted by Steven F (2 years ago)
Well, this map, Kevin, used to belong to the Supreme Being.
You mean you stole it?
No, no. Well, sort of.
– Submitted by Steven F (2 years ago)
Evil Genius:
If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!
– Submitted by Steven F (2 years ago)

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