“To be quite frank, Kevin, the fabric of the universe is far from perfect.”
A group of six greedy dwarves (David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Mike Edmonds, Malcolm Dixon, and Tiny Ross) steal a map of time holes from their leader, the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), and take a young boy (Craig Warnock) with them on their treasure-seeking time-travel adventures; meanwhile, Evil (David Warner) covets the map for his own nefarious purposes.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, it’s “easy to see the influence of The Thief of Bagdad, Alice in Wonderland, and, especially, The Wizard of Oz” on this comedic adventure film, scripted by Terry Gilliam “with fellow [Monty] Python alumnus Michael Palin”. Yet Time Bandits is actually “totally opposite to them in theme”, given that (in Gilliam’s own words), “it is… a reaction against kids’ films which are wonderful but have no guts because they present children with false reassurance that everything will turn out all right… You give your characters strength by having them experience some of the nastiness [of the world]. I wanted to get back to Grimm.” Peary accurately points out that despite being “extremely fanciful and ambitious” — many of the historical and/or fantastical sets throughout the film are beautifully conceived — the movie ultimately “wears you out”, and could perhaps have benefited from an episode or two being cut. What he strangely neglects to note, however, is what a disappointing cop-out the film’s denouement is, with far too many narrative threads neatly tied up and simply explained away. Despite its flaws, however, Gilliam’s uniquely creative vision is in full force here, and fans of his work won’t want to miss this pivotal early entry in his oeuvre.
Note: The “true” ending of the film — after Warnock returns home from his adventures and confronts his parents — is utterly bizarre; it will surely leave you scratching your head in wonder.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The exciting opening sequence in Warnock’s bedroom
- Impressive set designs
- John Cleese as (among other characters) Robin Hood
- David Warner as Evil
Yes, as a cult favorite by a unique director.