Jennifer's Review of Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)
The first thing that this movie reminded me of when seeing the picture for it on IMDB was - you guessed it - Terminator. I hate to say that because it sounds so predictable, and I don't want to judge this movie based on that hugely Hollywood creation. Yes, both worlds supposedly end in 1997, but that's about where the similarities end. This movie has a completely different personality of its own that needs to be evaluated on its own terms.
Bruce Willis played his part quite well, although him being a convicted felon wasn't hard to imagine, given his fame for action thrillers. I wondered what his character did to land him in jail, however. Perhaps in the new society after the disease takes hold, he simply disagreed with somebody important and that was enough to do it. It's clear that he is not evil - only misunderstood! - and that his intentions, in the end, are good. I admit guilty pleasure in watching him righteously kill the rapist who was about to nail Railly in that theater, but that is beside the point.
The ultimate mission of this movie is accomplished, but not in the way that we may imagine in our minds that crave the happy ending. At first, I was so disappointed that the same things happened over again the way they did before. After I thought about it and discussed it with a fellow viewer, though, I began to see that with the appearance of The Astrophysicist there emerged the hope that the future needed. She would be the one to presumably drug the true villain on the airplane and take a sample of the virus that he had in his suitcase. She would then bring it back to the future to use it to create the cure.
The reason that Cole is not assigned to completely stop the virus when sent back into the past is that, the scientists reason, the virus has already ravaged the earth, and that the past cannot be changed for fear of messing with the Time Paradox. This movie is filled with ideas surrounding this theory - that if you return to the past, you would end up altering the future that fostered your going to that past in the first place, creating a quandary that could possibly screw up the fabric of existence. A sample of the virus, discreetly taken, however, would not alter the ultimate course of events, and would still be able to aid in the salvation of the future. That's the idea, but I refuse to stick to it. I believe that if one goes back into the past it would only create an alternate universe where there was no virus - it wouldn't damage the original timeline nor would it mess with reality which I believe is, yes, capable with dealing with strange occurrences such as this. The thing is, though, the original future that Cole knew would remain the same because it's not that other dimension where things were saved. So I suppose I do admit that going into that past and getting the virus would be the way to go. But also consider this - if going into the past could alter the "one" dimension that we live in, wouldn't it be risky to send anybody to that past at all? I mean, think of now the Butterfly Wing effect. Even teensy weensy changes to something could still alter the bigger picture in ways we would not be able to comprehend. It would still be too risky. But the movie and the plot must go on, and I think it still worked well regardless.
The markings with the monkeys were very creepy despite being a false lead. Brad Pitt (who will always be simply Brad Pitt to me, never his actual characters anymore) did a damn good job of looking absolutely crazy, which was even more of a cleverly flaming false lead. It was the real villain, however, was perhaps the creepiest of all. His long red hair reminded me of the preacher/terrorist in Contact who blew up the space construct. I wondered about his origins, and I regret not paying more attention to him when he showed up on the edges of my vision at Railly's signing as well as the laboratory where he works and manages to secure the virus. I guess why he does what he does isn't important - still.
Cole ends up being shot because he wants to live in the past rather than return to his own time. His younger self is once again traumatized. It still makes me sad that the past would still go to hell and everything would once again unfold in all its horror like it was supposedly meant to. Unlike other movies, we never see people fall ill with the virus that everyone talks about; everything has already happened or will happen, with no actual occurance being shown. It made for a more Hitchcockian dread surrounding the sickness, which I appreciated. This is so different than, say, that one hollywood blaring fanfare work that I saw which involved green spheres containing an evil-looking germ that gruesomely killed somebody within the first ten minutes. Notice how I don't remember the title of it because I couldn't bring myself to care about it beyond the special effects. This, however, will stay with me.
I was left thinking about all of these small factors that would change or not change things, depending on how one looks at it. A lot of time was put into this movie, and I appreciate that a lot. I suspect that if I end up watching this again in some future far away, i'll notice things that I did not before, and that will be interesting. And yes, I believe I liked this better than Terminator. The only thing I would change would be that Railly could possibly be a little bit less of a damsel in distress.