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Time Bandits (1981)

tomatometer

92

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

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.

83

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

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.

audience

77

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 48,625

My Rating

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

Mar 30, 1999

Paramount Home Video

Watch It Now

Cast

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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.

June 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (6)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop 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.

June 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comment (1)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 14, 2002 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

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

November 22, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
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.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

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

December 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Fun fantasy has a bit of bite.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

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

September 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

one of the greatest of children's fantasy movies

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
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]

August 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

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

August 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Bullz-Eye.com
Bullz-Eye.com

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.

March 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

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.

June 5, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
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.

August 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

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

July 7, 2005 | Comment (1)
Needcoffee.com

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.
February 26, 2014
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

A spectacular fantasy for children and adults alike.
October 27, 2011
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.
May 23, 2011
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

    1. Supreme Being: Dead? No excuse for laying off work.
    – Submitted by Resty Dennis G (19 months ago)
    1. Fidgit: What happened?
    2. Wally: I'm sorry I killed you, Fidgit.
    – Submitted by Resty Dennis G (19 months ago)
    1. Supreme Being: Do be careful. Don't lose any of that stuff. That's concentrated evil.
    – Submitted by Resty Dennis G (19 months ago)
    1. Kevin: Mom! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!
    – Submitted by Steven F (2 years ago)
    1. Randall: Well, this map, Kevin, used to belong to the Supreme Being.
    2. Kevin: You mean you stole it?
    3. Randall: No, no. Well, sort of.
    – Submitted by Steven F (2 years ago)
    1. 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)
View all quotes (6)

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