Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys) Reviews
In the year 1996, a deadly virus wipes out all humanity and the few survivors live underground to avoid becoming sick themselves. In hopes of finding a cure to the virus, a prisoner named James Cole is sent back in time in order to find a group of people called "The Army of the Twelve Monkeys" who are believed to have started the virus. However, he is sent to the year 1990 by mistake and he meets a few people from that time period who may be able to help him complete his task.
What makes this film so good is that while it can be complex at some times, it keeps you interested and it makes the viewer want to come back for more. The ending kept me thinking about what it meant long after viewing it and I wanted to watch it again after I watched it for my first time. Also, I did like it a lot more on my second viewing. The movie isn't really too complex up until the end, but it does feel a lot different on your second viewing. Also, the airport flashbacks keep on feeling more important every time they are shown. On your second viewing, they have a greater impact on you as you are already aware of what the purpose of them is.
Also, the ending to this film is very well-done. I honestly did not expect that the film was going to end like how it did and it pleasantly surprised me. I'm sure that some were able to predict the ending if they paid close attention to the airport flashbacks, but I didn't notice it because the camera movements during those scenes were really disorienting. Also, the sequences are really hypnotic so it makes it kind of hard to get a clear view of what's happening. When I first watched the movie, I thought that the scene was meant to show numerous people dying from the outbreak since many other people in the background were laying on the floor.
Also, the visuals and production design is up to notch. The unusual camera angles can be impressive at times at hiding big parts to the film (this works exceptionally well in the ending). There are also cleverly timed zooms which demonstrate how small and insignificant our protagonists are. Gilliam's execution in some of these scenes are perfect and they profoundly always win out. Also, the movie does a very great job with the scenes which take place in the future. The scenes which take place in the future feel very top notch and the set design looks high-tech enough to make you convinced that this is actually what the future will look like. Also, the scene where you see how the city above them looks abandoned is pretty good as it looks like the earth has actually been left to rot for several decades.
The performances in Twelve Monkeys are all pretty well-done. Bruce Willis gives his finest performance yet as he displays sensitivity and emotional depth which is not only believable, but it makes the audience aware of his suffering and struggle to find a cure to the virus. Madeleine Stowe manages to show frenzy and energy in her performance without ever overcooking or overdoing it. Those 2 actors carried the movie excellently, but the actor who steals the show is Brad Pitt. He is amazing because he manages to play a convincingly insane and crazy role without ever seeming the slightest bit annoying and he never overacts or overstays his welcome.
Of course, Twelve Monkeys is not for everyone and it isn't perfect. It may be too choppy or jumbled together for some people's tastes. Also, it may take a few viewings for you to be fully entertained by it. However, no movie is objectively perfect and it's easy to overlook these flaws if you run into them. If you're not too impressed with it on your first viewing, you should consider watching it a second time because if you do, you will be in for a great treat which is what happened to me when I re-watched it.
In conclusion, Twelve Monkeys is an outstanding science fiction film which isn't too overly-complicated, but complicated enough to make your 2nd viewing of it feel a lot better and engaging. It also has great acting and great cinematography which convinces you that you are actually in the time periods that the movie takes place in. If you're a huge fan of Christopher Nolan or other complicated films, you will like this movie. There are very few things, if anything, wrong with it and in my opinion, it is one of the best films from the 90's.
Roger Ebert observed 12 Monkeys' depiction of the future, finding similarities with Blade Runner (1982; also scripted by David Peoples) and Brazil (1985; also directed by Terry Gilliam). "The film is a celebration of madness and doom, with a hero who tries to prevail against the chaos of his condition, and is inadequate", Ebert wrote. "This vision is a cold, dark, damp one, and even the romance between Willis and Stowe feels desperate rather than joyous. All of this is done very well, and the more you know about movies (especially the technical side), the more you're likely to admire it. And as entertainment, it appeals more to the mind than to the senses." Desson Thomson of The Washington Post praised the art direction and set design. "Willis and Pitts's performances, Gilliam's atmospherics and an exhilarating momentum easily outweigh such trifling flaws in the script", Thomson reasoned. Peter Travers from Rolling Stone magazine cited the film's success on Gilliam's direction and Willis' performance. Internet reviewer James Berardinelli believed the filmmakers took an intelligent and creative motive for the time travel subplot. Rather than being sent to change the past, James Cole is instead observing it to make a better future. Richard Corliss of Time magazine felt the film's time travel aspect and apocalyptic depiction of a bleaker future were clichés. "In its frantic mix of chaos, carnage and zoo animals, 12 Monkeys is Jumanji for adults", Corliss wrote.
Terry Gilliam is a director who never have and nor will take the easy way. I respect him for that. I reckon every movie he has been involved in has been a chaotic mess with various results. I reckon he needs that sort of project and environment to be able to deliver his best. However, he doesn´t always succeed. With "Twelve Monkeys" Gilliam moves in wellknown territories. The vibe and setting is close to "Brazil" but with a time travel setting. A sort of mix of "Donnie Darko" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" with a sci-fi vibe and a nod to how science and biological holocausts can collapse our planet. "Twelve Monkeys" is unique and original in many ways, and the storyline manages to keep the viewer on the right track throughout the movie despite a quite dynamic and fluctuant plot with present and future settings. Gilliam pushes the idea that one can't change the past and there´s a thin line between sanity and madness. The narrative is thought-provoking and I do enjoy that. When re-seeing it today Bruce Willis does Bruce Willis, while Brad Pitt steals most scenes as the warped Jeffrey Goines. What I also noticed is that the film is tainted by the 90s way of making films, lot of close ups and tilted angles. "Twelve Monkeys" is as said unique, but it didn´t create the same impact on me when re-seeing it as it did in 1995. Trivia: "Twelve Monkeys" is inspired by the French short film "La Jetée" (1962); as in "La Jetée", characters are haunted by the image of their own death. After Universal Studios acquired the rights to remake "La Jetée" as a full-length film, David and Janet Peoples were hired to write the script. Under Gilliam's direction, Universal granted the filmmakers a $29.5 million budget and filming lasted from February to May 1995. The film was shot mostly in Philadelphia and Baltimore where the story was set. The film was released to critical praise and grossed $168 million worldwide. Pitt was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film also won and was nominated for various categories at the Saturn Awards.