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12 Monkeys (1995)

The Future Is History.

Original Title : Twelve Monkeys
Director : Terry Gilliam
Writer : Chris Marker
David Webb Peoples
Janet Peoples
Genre : Drama
Thriller
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Robert Cavallo , Mark Egerton , Robert Kosberg , Gary Levinsohn , Lloyd Phillips , Charles Roven , Kelley Smith-Wait
Music : Paul Buckmaster
Photography : Roger Pratt
Distributor : Universal Pictures [us]
MPAA Rating : Rated R for violence and language.
IMDB ID : 0114746
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poster for "12 Monkeys" by Terry Gilliam (1995)
12 Monkeys (1995) - Terry Gilliam
 

Starring

Bruce Willis James 'Jim' Cole
Madeleine Stowe Dr. Kathryn Railly
Madeleine Stowe Dr. Kathryn Railly
 

Plot

An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemy (who he's told was spread by a mysterious "Army of the Twelve Monkeys") and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert.
 

Comments

Brass Monkey Spoilers herein. Terry Gilliam disappoints. He makes a competent film. He often folds narrative through time as he does here. He uses architecture as a central element in his shots. He is bold with camera perspectives. He creates alternative and strange worlds. He often deals with class actors who do their best work for him. He tweaks the scifi genre in sort places. All of that is true here. All of that is stuff I like. But this film has no coherence. It is not enough to have a clever space and a clever camera angle if the aren't coordinated to create some effect. It is not enough to have Brad wonderfully careening if your eye isn't in the right space. There's just so much good stuff here all jumbled about. Little is controlled or exploited. I contrast this with `Fear and Loathing' which had several advantages: --Gilliam knew he screwed up on this one and was smart enough to know what to fix --He was able to write his own script. This one has two many literary devices to comfortably be shoehorned into a novel cinematic framework. --He had Depp, who understands how to act in a way that defines the space the eye only imagines. Depp's character was hallucinating and the hallucinations mapped well to Gilliam's sense of an alternative universe. Not here. Willis and Pitt work really well together, each at the end of explored personal territory, but it isn't the same territory Gilliam shows us. Hitchcock -- who is relied on here -- affirms reality instead of redefining it. Usually I can find some clever self-referential irony in this: a story about dissonant perception told in a manner that is perceptually dissonant. But it seems too competent a notion to put on this project. Things are different with `Loathing.' Better. One think: I kept looking for someone to say "minkee" after Peter Sellers' famous, Python-inspiring bit in "Return of the Pink Panther."
 
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12 Monkeys (1995) - Terry Gilliam
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12 Monkeys (1995) - Terry Gilliam
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