User Reviews (191)

Add a Review

  • It IS a wavelength thing. Terry Gilliam's films are ALL Terry Gilliam films. They all have that certain something, some kind of feeling about them that makes them instantly recognizable. The same can be said of the Coen brothers. Unfortunately, movies that are that personal and unique do not work for everybody. For the people that just can't get into Gilliam films, I hope there's another filmmaker that inspires childlike wonderment in you. Because it's a great feeling. Time Bandits is magic. I've seen it many times (over 10) and each time, I find something new about it. It's a fine example of a movie that works for children and adults alike. When I saw it for the first time at age 8, I enjoyed the fantasy, adventure, and basic good vs. evil story. As I got older I started appreciating the social commentary on consumerism, the Python-esque humor, and just how imaginative and skillfully done the movie is. After watching it again yesterday, I'm having trouble deciding which is the better movie; Brazil or Time Bandits.
  • Finding Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits" in the bargain bin at the local movie store was too good a deal for me to pass up, and I'm so glad I didn't! This movie is probably one of the greatest modern-day fantasies I've seen, due primarily to the amazing vision of Gilliam. I was disappointed with it on my first viewing years ago, expecting a rehash of Monty Python material, but yesterday watching it I just couldn't stop grinning. This movie knows its sources, and sends them up right.

    For starters, I love how Gilliam handled the boy 'hero' in "Bandits". He's not anyone spectacular, aside from an active imagination (over and above his banal parents), and he really doesn't contribute much to the story-it simply passes him by. Most of the other characters don't like him that much even. (the "stinking Kevin" line just makes me howl!) He's also not that cute, which is a rarity with child actors and which sinks most films with them. Plus, the danger of the story doesn't stop at him, as shown by the rather sobering finale. No 'It's all a dream' type cop-out here. Having studied the form of the fantasy as explained by Tolkien myself, Gilliam obviously understands how it works.

    Of course, because it works, "Time Bandits" is just plain fun. The plot's out of nowhere-just kind of trips along through time and space and stranger things. Napoleon as a height-obsessed drunkard? Robin Hood as the aloof, unlikely leader of a band of violent, too-merry men? Agamemnon as the ideal father figure? It's all here, plus the technocratic, pyromaniac "Evil" vs. the Supreme Being. Ah, you always knew He was an staid Englishman in a pinstripe suit, didn't you? ("Dead? No excuse for laying off work.")

    Perhaps it's not Gilliam's masterpiece, as "Brazil" could be argued for that...though one could also argue "Time Bandits" gives a bleaker perspective through the contrast of the fun and whimsy. If our reality is depressing now, and Kevin's was, is the fulfillment of our fantasies any better? Perhaps Randall said it best himself - "Heroes, bah! What do they know about an honest day's work?" :-)
  • A terrific little fantasy that, not surprisingly, has flavors of Monty Python. My children and I first saw it in the early '80s on a night ferry from Harwich to Zeebrugge. I've seen it a few times since, and marvel at the creativity that went into the film. God's "employees" trying to use a map of the universe to track down treasure is the theme; running around through time trying to find the treasure is the game. The cameos by Cleese, Connery and the rest are some amusing highlights, but the Time Bandits themselves really make the story. The climactic scenes with the Evil Genius made me think more than a little of the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

    I think it is a well done bit of fantasy for older children and adults; it helps to know a bit of history going into it. I wouldn't let my six-year old granddaughter see it -- at least not yet -- but she and her sister probably will love the adventure in a few years.
  • For my money, Terry Gilliam is one of the more innovative, creative, and fantastical directors of the last two decades. His films easily bear his stamp of absurdist humour, witty dialogue, sheer fantasy, dream-like sequences, and always a generous dose of black comedy. Time Bandits is certainly no exception, but rather a stepping stone for greater works such as The Fisher King and the wonderful Brazil. The film tells the story of a group of dwarf-like "crooks" who leave their jobs with God(the Supreme Being) for a life of crime via a map they have "stolen" from their job place. This map holds all the secrets to time holes in the fabric of creation. Thus the bearers of the map can go forward and back in time as they please. They use the map to steal, at which they have little skill, and become rich, at which they miserably fail. Gilliam transports them and us through time to meet such interesting notables as Robin Hood, Napoleon, Agammenon, and the Evil Genius(devil-like entity). The film is grand in its scope and still wanting, for it is tackling a story of epic proportions. Still, Gilliam delivers a pretty good film both visually stunning in certain sequences and brimming with philosophical questions such as the necessity of evil and the election of choice in life. The film is also very funny in many parts, due in large part to a great cast. The protagonists are all quite good. John Cleese plays as likable a Robin Hood to be seen with his almost overly polite manner. The best performances go to Ian Holm, playing a drunken Napoleon obsessed with his size, David Warner, playing the malevolent Evil Genius with relish, and lastly to Sir Ralph Richardson, playing the Supreme Being like a bureaucrat concerned with balancing payroll and the like. Gilliam explores the bureaucratic mentality with even more scope in his Brazil. All in all, Time Bandits is a fun and entertaining picture.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    How's this for a zany plot? A bunch of mischievious dwarves steal a map from the Supreme Being which shows them how to find holes that lead to various historical periods. One such hole brings them out in a small boy's bedroom. The boy joins them, and together they visit diverse lands such as Napoleonic France; Sherwood Forest during the days of Robin Hood; the Titanic; the Middle East during the reign of Agamemnon; etc. Oh yes, and all the time they are being pursued by the Devil (referred to here as "Evil"), who would dearly love to steal the map for himself.

    Time Bandits is an outlandish, often hilarious, always engaging fantasy story with a magical cast. It wins over the audience by offering them a refreshingly unique story, and littering it with memorable episodes which vary in tone from hilarious to frightening, from historical to mythological. Lots of energetic performances add to the fun, with Ian Holm doing a superb Napoleon, Sean Connery an imposing Agamemnon, and Ralph Richardson a delightfully eccentric Supreme Being. The film's peculiar ending used to upset me as a youngster, but now I appreciate its ingenuity and it evokes in me memories of a famous Philip Larkin poem which begins with the infamous line: "They f*** you up your mum and dad, they may not mean to but they do.......".

    Time Bandits is a triumph of imagination. It isn't quite flawless, due to a bland performance by Craig Warnock as the boy and a somewhat dismal episode featuring an angry ogre, but flaws aside it is certainly one of those films with which it is always a pleasure to while away a couple of hours.
  • I was lucky enough to see this piece of celluloid magic on the big screen when it first came out. I'm glad I did, too, because the shoe-box multiplexes that were being slapped together couldn't do this movie justice. Terry Gilliam hits just the right note when he introduces Kevin, a ten-year old with big appetite for western mythology(you get the impression that in another year, he'll be reading Joseph Campbell and Rider Haggard)and an even bigger imagination. Having parents of the most sterile, materialistic bent(plastic couch covers--ecch)just ensure his receptiveness to the adventures that follow his falling through the time-door in the back of his closet with Randall and his fellow dwarves as they plunder and loot their way through time and history. Gilliam pokes fun at some of history's figures, like Napoleon("That's what I like to see--little things hitting each other!"), Robin Hood("was it really necessary to hit him?""Yes boss.""Ah, I see."),and others. Gilliams' lesson that having lots of stuff will not ensure happiness and that usually, the journey itself is reward enough is artfully told without flogging the audience with it. Something else that stuck with me, but I didn't realize until long afterwards, were the things that Kevin discovered, after a fashion, in his adventures but didn't have in his life back in the 'burbs: a real father figure, played by Sean Connery as Agamemnon, and true love, as presented by Peter Vaughan and Katherine Helmond as Mr. and Mrs. Ogre. Plus the special effects are economically impressive without being too cheesy(my god--the fortress of ultimate darkness WAS made of lego blocks!). In the end, though, it was something that I find far, far too rarely in movies now and before, and it occured to me after I had seen, of all things, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". What Ang Lee's film had in common with Gilliam is simply this: they both had the feel of a great big story that you came in the middle of, and you didn't want ever to end, but it didn't matter, because the structure was such that you had enough to digest for now. And I can count on less than two hands the movies where I was left with THAT wonderful feeling.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Time Bandits is a deeply satirical morality tale superficially packaged as a kid's adventure film. On the surface it seems simple enough; a young boy, Kevin, is spirited away by a gang of time travelling comedy dwarfs for a series of adventures in different historical settings. But there's a lot more to it than that. Kevin's parents are a grotesque caricature of self-absorbed suburban materialism; incessantly arguing about kitchen appliances while watching brainless TV gameshows at full volume. It is Gilliam's attention to detail which really makes this film for me. Kevin's parents don't eat anything which hasn't come out of a microwave or blender and are too precious even to remove the plastic wrapping from their hideous three-piece suite. Kevin, meanwhile, is a romantic who, until the fateful night the Time Bandits arrive in his bedroom, can only live out his fantasies in history books.

    But history turns out not to be all it's cracked up to be. Napoleon is crippled by an inferiority complex stemming from his small stature; Robin Hood is a patronising liar and his 'merry men' are a bunch of violent filthy animals. Only in mythical Greece does Kevin come close to realising his dreams.

    The film retains a dark edge throughout. As Gilliam explains in his DVD commentary, by casting small people as the bandits, led by the delightfully arrogant David Rappaport, he hoodwinks the audience into swallowing their extreme cupidity. The innocent Kevin (played by a child actor deliberately selected for his shyness) finds himself swept into company even more mindlessly greedy than that of his parents'. At this stage we are introduced to David Warner's deliciously over-acted 'evil genius'; a Satan obsessed with modern technology (but, ironically, surrounded by decay and incompetence), who plots to entrap the time travellers. The film gathers momentum towards the inevitable showdown between good and evil but Gilliam leaves this disturbingly inconclusive. God, played by Ralph Richardson as an intimidating schoolmaster, assures us that he is in control but that misery and suffering are all that we can expect ("something to do with free will") and Kevin's troubles have only begun. Ultimately this is a very British film which speaks to lonely idealists everywhere.
  • This is THE definitive work on the nature of good and evil. It asks the age old question: Who is the Supreme Being, and what is it exactly that he wants from us? Terry Gilliam gives us a morality tale wrapped inside a an epic poem seen in the guise of an abstract painting.

    As a film, all the seperate elements are perfect, and blended together seemlessly by the hand of the maestro Gilliam. It is not only a brilliant comedy, but an enthralling story as well. This is a film that sparks discussion and debate that goes on well into the night.

    It is the rarest of all cinematic creatures-- a movie that is a genuine pleasure to watch and one that makes you think.
  • This movie is the funniest movie I have ever seen. When it was on cable, we watched it about 20 times and I have worn out two tapes of it. There are so many levels of enjoyment. The sets are great, the effects are wondrous, the storyline is wacky, the combination of veteran actors and new faces is perfection. The dialog is a riot and you will find quotes from this movie everywhere, which thrills me to death! I love all the actors that played the dwarfs, especially David Rappaport who played Randall and also loved his TV show "The Wizard" that was treated so shabbily. We often find ourselves saying, "Remember when Evil said this, and when Og said that?" Or laughly wonder what condition Pansy's boyfriend, Vincent, had that needed fruit? The Napoleon scene alone is enough to cause you to break a rib from laughter. I guarantee that if you have a funnybone at all, you will love this movie! Run, don't walk to the nearest video rental store!
  • After submerging myself finally into Time Bandits, perhaps too late (or too soon, if I had kids maybe it would've been a different experience), I found it reminded me of a live-action version of one of these animated adventures I would watch on TV as a kid, where a child would be brought into a fantastical universe away from his dull, ordinary existence, with strange friends/characters, and then go on adventures. In a couple of small ways its even palatable to the Terry Jones/Jim Henson collaboration Labyrinth. But the difference here is that it is fused with some more mature humor and some darker elements. In a way this is what the college-age fans of Monty Python in the 70's must have seen as the perfect film to take their kids to see in the 80's. Terry Gilliam, co-writer/director (co-written with fellow Python Michael Palin), knows how to entertain, and many sequences are terrific. It's a shame that some of them were not as much, and a little spotty. The sheer zaniness though, and the will for Gilliam to keep throwing visual gags and intense, fun imagery, keeps it never boring.

    It's without a doubt that Time Bandits is in a sense a more 'mainstream' (err, accessible) picture than many of Gilliam's other works, mostly because it tries to reach into the imagination in all people, young and old. Kevin (Craig Warnock, a good straight-character for the audience amid all the ruckus), is in a land of his own imagination, until a group of pillaging dwarfs (played by the likes of David Rappaport and Kenny 'R2-D2- Baker) traveling through time with a stolen map with gaps through time provided by a crazed 'supreme being'. They visit Napoleon (Ian Holm, an ingenious role), Robin Hood (John Cleese), and by accident King Agamemnon (Sean Connery, an unexpectedly cool role). But when the Evil Genius (David Warner, one of the funniest performances of the film) knows they have it, he'll do anything to lure them in to get it from them.

    This leads to a climax that in a darker, more scrambled way, reminded me of the climax of Blazing Saddles. There, like in this film, the story almost runs off the tracks, as many parts of history come into play with the forces of good versus evil. It does come to a satisfying conclusion, but in a small way is almost too much. Pauline Kael's comment that "the film suffers from a surfeit of good ideas" is not without some truth. There are so many jokes, so much imagination, so much creativity, its like a tipping scale that balances back and forth, rarely in the middle, of how affecting it is. For children, therefore, it is a sure bet, because children (for all of the modern corporate grabbing and testing of material) thrive on material like this, where the appearance of a comedian like Michael Palin in two separate, hilarious roles, doesn't matter as much as the sheer one-of-a-kind nature of everything put together. Some of the film is violent (as when the Evil Genius blows things up randomly), but always like a cartoon; one can sense the animation influence in the style's bones.

    And that is what separates this film from the other films and shows I saw as a child, that there is this need on the part of the filmmaker not to stick to anything really expected, while still in a 'once upon a time' framework. Some jokes may not be funny to kids until they get older, but images like the giant trudging slowly through the water, the dwarfs in a peril in the cages, the pageantry of the Greek sequences. It's all delightful, but also a little overwhelming, and of course a bit much on the first go-around.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm a big fan of some of Gilliam's other films, but this one just doesn't measure up. While there are a lot of interesting ideas scattered throughout the work, it ends up becoming a somewhat modernized regurgitation of Gulliver's Travels. The original characterization of the parents isn't very effective, Satan does carnival tricks to defeat the good guys (Go Go Gadget knife), and God comes traipsing in during the finale to reveal his ultimate plan. Not only does Gilliam cop out with deus ex machina, but he uses the cliché of waking from a dream as well. While he undermines this by killing off the boy's parents, that only serves to leave an 8 year old kid with nothing in the world. And then Sean Connery winks at him? I'm sorry, but the ideas are scattered and incohesive, making the film fall flat.
  • Pure loving, scary, wonderful fantasy that Disney, Bluthe and all the rest have been trying to do their whole existence, and George and pals go out and do it the first time. Who cares what people whom surely need counseling think, and give it anything less than a 10? A true gift from the most talented Beatle and two of Python's best.-----BQ
  • Only David Warner can play the Devil himself with evil relish and yet manage to elicit some sympathy for that fallen angel. His lines are memorable, for indeed, why should a Supreme Being create such an abominable creature as a slug? The Devil just wants a perfect world and he gets hilarious when he says just how (e.g. digital telephones for everyone, fiberoptic telecommunications, etc.) This should remind us of older religious traditions' belief in a Malevolent Being that began existence as a partner of God in creation (cf. Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, etc.) Apparently, the two had some disagreements on just what the fabric of the universe should be, hence the parting of ways. This also brings to mind Carl Anderrson in his role as Judas in Jesus Christ, Superstar when he asked why the Messiah chose that wretched time in that forsaken land to deliver his message. Jesus should have come in the 20th century with the spread of mass communication. Rantings by the characters played both by Warner and Anderrson are obviously false and yet so much fun and funny.

    My two little boys enjoyed the film and to my surprise, so did I.
  • This is a film with a massive heart. It engages both adults and children. I first watched this when I was 12, my brother was 9. We sat with our parents, all of us laughing and really engaging with the silliness and surprises throughout. It does rely on having a very British sense of humour, and anyone who gets Monty python will have no problem with this, but I would challenge anyone not to find the premise and execution of this film anything other than highly engaging.
  • sierra-zulu18 April 2017
    Five dwarfs, 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 hell of it. That's it. And it's beautiful.
  • This wonderful flick deal with a little boy (Craig Warnock won the role after a wide search for the right child actor) and six dwarfs (Kenny Baker , David Rappaport , Jack Purvis , among others) who are chased by the Supreme Being through time and space . As the kid accidentally joins a band as they jump from time-period to time-period looking for treasure to steal . All of them travel back in time via a map that charts a course through holes holes in the fabric of the universe . Along the way they meet historical characters such as Napoleon (49-year-old Ian Holm plays the 26-year-old Bonaparte) , Robin Hood (John Cleese , though Michael Palin wrote the role of Robin for himself, but Cleese wanted to play him), Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) and King Agamemnon (the gold masks of Agamemnon's priests are replicas of a king's deathmask, found by Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae in 1876 , it is in Museum of Atenas). At the end the motley group contends the Evil Genius (David Wagner , the apparatus on his head was influenced by H.R. Giger's work on Alien) .

    This is an imaginative , glamorous , chaotic fantasy based on the wonderful trips carried out by a group of adventurers along with a young English schoolboy . Fantastic film contains sense of adventure , thrills , and lots of imagination . From start to finish fantasy , action and delightful adventure are continued . Exciting and interesting screenplay written by Michael Palin and and Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame . Marvelous special effects are visually stunning and magnificently realized with no computer generator . Starring a considerable cast of top-names performers such as John Cleese as Robin Hood , Shelley Duvall as Dame , Ian Holm as Napoleon , Michael Palin as Vincent , Ralph Richardson as Supreme Being and David Warner as Evil and a young Jim Broadbent as a TV host . Special mention to Sean Connery as King Agamemnon and Fireman , Gilliam did not originally intend to cast Sean Connery as King Agamemnon , he merely wrote in the screenplay that when Agamemnon took off his helmet that he looked "exactly like Sean Connery." To Gilliam's surprise, the script found its way into Connery's hands and Connery subsequently expressed interest in doing the film.

    This big-budgeted , under-appreciated film achieved a limited hit at box office and panned by some critics ; however , today is very well considered . Colorful and glimmer cinematography by Peter Biziou . Thrilling as well as evocative original music by Mike Moran . The motion picture was imaginatively directed by Terry Gilliam . Terry shot the film in low camera angles throughout in order to give the audience the perspective of a dwarf or a child . Gilliam is an expert on wonderful , surreal atmospheres (Adventures of Baron Munchausen , Brazil , Fisher king , Doctor Parnasus). He is member of the comedy group "Monty Python" along with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman. ¨Time bandits¨ might be described as an extraordinary fantasy full of imagination and color . It's a tale for teens and adults in which entertainment and amusement are guaranteed . Rating : Good , better than average . Worthwhile watching .
  • Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits is that rare thing – a kid's film that really understands and respects children. It is also, after the hotch-potch of Jabberwocky, Gilliam's first fully-fledged feature film.

    Time Bandits is about the power of a child's imagination, particularly in the face of the dullness of bland TV. Kevin's family home, packed with high-tech labour-saving devices, seems cramped and puckered up, and is dwarfed by the grandeur of the historical settings. It's not an anti-technology statement as such, but more an attack on the impersonal nature of modern gadgetry, which Gilliam would come back to in his masterpiece, Brazil.

    This is also a film about the problems of childhood. Kevin is ignored by his parents, and his imagination is stifled. But when he is with the dwarfs, he becomes listened to and respected. It's the antithesis of the statement "children should be seen and not heard". Gilliam also goes a long way to creating a "child's (or dwarfs) eye view", both physically, keeps his camera at waist height (making Ralph Richardson look absolutely huge) and in terms of the film's outlook. For example, most of the comedy comes from ridiculing the worries of the adult world – Napoleon's anxiety over his height, the ogres mid-life crisis and, of course, Michael Palin's "problem".

    The fact that the story is about time travelling allows Gilliam to flex his imagination to the greatest extent since his days as Monty Python animator. Travelling from one historical setting to another, and eventually into the realms of fantasy, Gilliam must really have felt like a kid with the biggest train set in the world (to paraphrase Orson Welles). The story is incredibly fast-paced and we never dwell too long in one era, but Gilliam still manages to cram as many ideas as possible into each setting. The fifteen minutes or so set in the middle ages is funnier than the entirety of Jabberwocky. One of the few similarities to Jabberwocky in fact is Gilliam's warts-and-all portrayal of history.

    And how could I forget to mention the dwarfs? This is their picture too, and alongside the ideas about childhood this is also a rarity in that it actors with dwarfism a chance to play real characters, rather than just be body type "specialists". And there truly are some great actors among them. David Rapapport (Randall), who had the most acting experience, clearly relishes his role, but the real standout is Jack Purvis (Wally). His performance is the most powerful, and in the later scenes in particular he manages to convey so much emotion in the way he moves and the way he screws up is face.

    The cast is good all round in fact. Gilliam would frequently cast against type in his later work, and while that's not quite the case here there's an eclectic mix of cameos that creates some very unusual but brilliant characters. Although it's quite small, this is my favourite Sean Connery performance – he shows real warmth and fatherliness, and clearly took the role seriously in spite of it being a small part in a cheap film. Ian Holm and John Cleese vie for funniest role as Napoleon and Robin Hood respectively (by the way, for those who don't know, Cleese is basing his portrayal on Prince Phillip). And Time Bandits also ends centuries of theological debate by proving once and for all, that Ralph Richardson IS God.

    When I first saw this as a kid of about the same age as Kevin himself, I was really disappointed by the ending. It's not a sad ending as such, it just makes you go "uh?" In fact this is kind of a Gilliam trademark – plenty of his films end with the good guys technically winning, but with the hero ending up worse off. It's also an ending that is appropriate even though it's tough for kids to accept, because as much as anything else Time Bandits is about the end of childhood. Along his journey Kevin learns that sometimes heroes aren't all they're cracked up to be, and also that the most important thing in the adult world is money. Finally, he is abandoned and left to fend for himself – the comfortable world of childhood has gone.

    I'll also mention an interesting little fact about George Harrison's involvement in this film. As many people know, the ex-Beatle executive produced Time Bandits. He had various ideas about how the film should be made and frequently clashed with Gilliam. In the end, Gilliam managed to overrule him, and Harrison's only contribution to the finished product was writing the song that plays over the end credits. It's a great tune (Harrison was in my opinion the best songwriter in the Beatles), but as Gilliam points out in his commentary, the lyrics are actually nothing to do with the film. They are in fact an anti-Gilliam rant, something which the director himself only realised (to his amusement) after the picture was released.

    Time Bandits is a film about a child's imagination being set free – but it is really Gilliam's imagination that is being set free. It's the first time he really escapes from the shadow of Monty Python, and paved the way for future masterpieces.
  • slokes4 January 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    While this is a film Terry Gilliam's many fans no doubt enjoy, few honest ones would classify "Time Bandits" as among his best films. With "Brazil" or the lost '80s classic "The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen" you get vision, story, and humor. Here you just get vision.

    "Time Bandits" has a great concept at least: Little Kevin (Craig Warnock) lives with his uncaring parents in a house stocked with modern conveniences, daydreaming of ancient Greece. Suddenly out of his bedroom closet, Narnia-style, pop six tiny men, escapees from the Supreme Being, carrying with them a map identifying wormholes through time. One step ahead of the Creator, under the baleful eye of Evil, the six sweep Kevin across history in search of plunder.

    There are solid aspects to "Time Bandits," especially the performance of David Rappaport as Randall, leader of the bandit gang. More than any other actor in the film, he presents a comic lightness, whether strung up upside-down and trying to impress his captor by snarling at him ("They always crack in the end") or dog-paddling in the North Atlantic after landing his gang on the Titanic. ("It didn't say 'Get off before the iceberg' on the ticket.')

    David Warner also has moments as the sinister face of Evil, less as the figure of menace he presents in the second half of the film than the goofy, insecure techno-loving whiner early on. "If I were creating a world, I wouldn't mess about with butterflies or daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, day one."

    What isn't nearly as funny are the many time periods Kevin and his little friends find themselves in. Whether meeting a patronizing Robin Hood or a Napoleon who gets his kicks watching tiny people hit each other, these bits consistently disappoint as comedy and create nothing tangible in the way of a plot. They are just an excuse for Monty Python vets Gilliam and Michael Palin to string together a group of unconnected sketches like they did in the old days.

    Except these sketches aren't funny, not even with Palin and fellow Python John Cleese on hand in cameo roles. Cleese carries his one joke playing Robin Hood as snobby nobleman just long enough for it to get tired, while Palin overacts shamefully as a lovelorn fellow chasing Shelley Duvall across time and forever getting crossed up. Given Cleese and Palin were the two funniest Pythons, this is disappointing.

    So too is the second half of the film, where Gilliam and Palin lose the tiny thread of their story and decide to move the action into a more mystical realm, sending Kevin and the gang to "The Time Of Legends." Here the story and special effects become even more threadbare, while the comedy is limited to a giant with a bad back who says he feels "horrible" when he feels great and vice versa.

    SPOILER AHEAD-- The most entertaining thing about reading the comments here are how the many champions of "Time Bandits" justify the film's mercilessly mean ending. Gilliam may talk today about his message being not to trust heroes, but there's nothing about heroes in the ending, just a small boy alone and orphaned in the world, victim of an uncaring cosmos. My belief is Gilliam stuck it in precisely because it went against the grain of his movie, and showed he wasn't getting soft. No sentimentalist he. --SPOILER END

    The one sequence of the film I enjoyed most is the one time Gilliam gets a bit sentimental, when Kevin gets stranded alone in Mycenae and meets Agamemnon in the person of Sean Connery. Connery's star power was never brighter, and Gilliam gets the maximum value from his Morocco set. It's not funny, but no jokes are better than the weak ones scattered across the rest of the picture. At least here Gilliam is trying to create a story.

    It quickly passes, and so does everything else, including the time you spend watching this. It leaves a hollow feeling, proving if nothing else this film is aptly named.
  • I was very disappointed by this one. I suppose the definition of 'cult classic' is always going to depend on whether you turn out to be a member of the cult in question or not... which you can't know until you've tried. But the only reason I persevered through until the end was because I don't believe in slating a film unless I've actually seen the whole thing to make sure.

    To be fair, while I was pretty clear that I didn't like it somewhere around the Napoleon mark, there were a couple of scenes after that I did enjoy; but the whole thing is wildly uneven, with long sections I found boring and/or distasteful. The level of the special effects is wildly uneven as well, with a Minotaur whose head is so obviously a mask I assumed he was supposed to *be* a masked gladiator, and some of the most unconvincing expanded polystyrene slabs for smashing that I've ever witnessed. (Maybe they blew the whole budget on Mycenae?) While there is a trace of the famous relationship to Monty Python, the affinity turns out to be with the bits of Python I originally found unfunny -- what comes across as random cruelty and ugliness.

    My main problems with the film, however, apart from boredom, were the usual twofold pair: lack of empathy with the protagonists, to the extent that I actually felt a sense of relief when one of them looked like being killed ("One down, only half a dozen to go"), coupled with a resulting identification with the villain instead. Watching 'Evil' deflect the heroes' puny attacks with a wave of a hand, I'm afraid I felt a sense of warm achievement.

    Good points: Ralph Richardson, Sean Connery. Bad points: the insufferably annoying lovers (clearly I've lived much too sheltered a life to get the joke about the fruit), the endless Napoleon (all right, all right, we got the height obsession the first time), the bickering dwarfs, the leaden satire of the gadget-obsessed household, and every scene basically being milked far.... too... long.

    Clearly, either you like this film or you don't. If you like it, then the more the better. If you don't warm to the start, then there's no point staying the course in the hopes of improvement: what you see is what you'll get. I was carried away by "Baron Munchausen"; after all the praise I'd heard for it, I wasn't impressed by this.
  • fleance-124 November 2004
    I got this movie from the library, and saw it had a lot of actors I like in it(John Cleese, Ian Holm, Ralph Richardson, etc), so I got it and watched it. I expected Cleese to have a large role since he had first billing, I was surprised to find out that he had about five minutes of screen time, along with everyone else I liked. This movie is amazingly pointless, the characters are nobodies, the plot is non-existent, and the ending is one of the worst endings I have ever seen. There were a few funny parts, but that's about it. Stay away from this movie if you want to prevent going "What?" and "Huh?", a lot. And if you don't want to waste your time. Ignore the people who say this is a very funny movie...it isn't. Just stay away from it at all costs...please.
  • In the world of sci-fi comedy this is as good as it gets. I have to admit that I'm a lifelong fan of little people in movies, and I'm in the beginning stages of writing a book about this subject. If anyone is in touch with David Rappaport, Jack Purvis, or any of the other little people actors involved, please get in touch at my email adress above. That said, I'd like to lambast the comment that was posted on IMDB saying Sean Connery contributed the low note to the film. I'm not sure which movie that guy was watching. I'm not the hugest Connery fan (especially his lame modern movies, Entrapment was just awful) but in this role he had the right warmth, humor, and power to play Agammemnon. This movie is very silly, and that' all part of the fun, so I don't think it was a method performance or anything like that, OK?, give the guy a break. Connery had been way too serious up to that point in his career. Anyway, I love all the actors, Gilliam is as usually absolutely perfect and very inventive. This is the best "midget" movie of all time (yes, even better than the Wizard of Oz and Under the Rainbow) because it shows the little people as real human beings. Even though there is not much time for characterization given the huge cast of character actors/cameo stars, each of the bandits has his own personality that contributes to the chemistry of the group. The boy who plays Kevin is pretty bad, but I never think the term "actor" should be applied to children.

    A final note: I could swear that when I first saw this movie in Virginia when it came out (I was 6) the soundtrack on the movie included "Let's Get Physical" by Olivia Newton John. This might just be the effect of my youth at the time, I don't know but if anyone else remembers this, let me know, OK? :)
  • A lot of great fantasy films came out in the 80's. Among the best were films like "The Neverending Story", "Labyrinth", "Legend", "Willow", and, possibly the greatest (and most criminally underrated) of them all is Terry Gilliam's masterpiece "Time Bandits". It's a hilarious film that has a great cast, great directing, and a witty script!

    While it IS a fantasy film, it is much more than JUST a fantasy film. It is a Terry Gilliam film, a film full of insanity, magic, and a sharp satirical edge (any scene featuring the boy protagonist's technology obsessed parents is full of clever, and still quite relevant, satire).

    At times it's really dark (and creepy), at other it's really light, but it is always excellent and awesome! Jumping from one time period to the next, it manages to be a bizarre and creative treat almost unlike any other sci-fi/fantasy film (that wasn't directed by Mr. Gilliam, of course).

    It seems like a good prequel to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" (which I'm really excited to see).
  • Most family films are made with marketing at the forefront of the producers' minds. Toys, tie-ins, demographics all trump creativity and creating a work that will last. Thank the Lord, Terry Gilliam is not such a filmmaker and Time Bandits is not such a movie.

    A kid tags along with a band of thieving dwarfs on the run from their employer, God Himself (played by none other than Ralph Richardson), as they travel through time and take whatever loot they can. What ensues is a series of off-the-wall adventures, encounters with strange characters, and satire jabs at consumerism and the modern world's obsession with technology. It is a film both children and adults can equally appreciate, if they go along with the strangeness.

    Time Bandits is not going to appeal to everyone-- it's weird and strangely paced, but it's so unique and funny that I cannot help but love it and return to it again and again.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Unhappy eleven-year-old boy Kevin (a fine and engaging performance by Craig Warnack) inadvertently joins up with a gang of mischievous dwarfs who possess a map that enables them to travel through time and happily plunder treasure from famous historical figures. Meanwhile, Evil (a splendidly sardonic portrayal by David Warner) plots to obtain the map so he can rule the universe.

    Director Terry Gilliam, who co-wrote the witty and creative script with Michael Palin, displays a tireless and positively infectious go-for-broke inventiveness that's quite a joy to behold from start to finish, keeps the wildly entertaining story moving along at a constant snappy pace, ably crafts and maintains a fairly dark, yet blithely irreverent tone, delivers an uproarious array of inspired wacky gags (for example, an ogre's ship turns out to be a hat on top of a giant's head), further provides wickedly spot-on satirical swipes at free will, mindless greed, technology run amok, shallow consumerism and materialism, and the necessity for evil to exist in the world, and tops everything off with a genuinely startling bleak ending.

    A slew of sharp cameos from a terrific assortment of big names qualifies as an additional delightful plus: Ian Holm as a neurotic and irritable Napoleon, Sean Connery as the kindly King Agamemnon, John Cleese as a cheerfully doltish and polite Robin Hood, a deliciously droll Ralph Richardson as the prim'n'proper Supreme Being, Peter Vaughan as an ogre with a bad back, Katherine Helmond as the ogre's doting wife, and Palin and Shelley Duvall as lovers both in the Middle Ages and on board the Titanic. Tiny Ross, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, and especially David Rappaport as rascally leader Randall are all extremely personable as the dwarfs. A real treat.
  • oOoBarracuda29 January 2016
    From the mind of the man who brought us Monty Python, Terry Gilliam, comes the 1981 film Time Bandits. A misfit group of time travelers joined by a little boy bring to life eras in history with wonderful designs and detail. With cover art that is a brilliant mix of Dali and Kandinsky, Time Bandits is a film that has to be enjoyed at least once.

    Feeling increasingly more neglected by his technology-obsessed parents, Kevin (Craig Warnock) seeks solace alone, often tucked away in his room. One evening his room is crashed by a gang of misfit time travelers, international criminals (in training) who have stolen a map with all the time holes marked on it. These time holes will help them pop into a time period, steal whatever they wish, and jump into another time period before they can be caught. Along the way, Kevin runs into many of the people he has always read about in books during his alone time. Among those he meets are an endearing Robin Hood (John Cleese), the imposing King Agamemnon (Sean Connery), and the ever self- conscious Napoleon (Ian Holm). Traveling with his new troupe brings about some danger and not just in their missions alone. As it turns out, the gang is also constantly jumping away from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) that they stole the map from in the first place. Time hopping was instrumental for Kevin to escape his ignored life at home, and finding just the right gang of misfits was more than he could ever imagine, and a group he didn't want to let go of.

    Time Bandits was a fun movie both for its plot, and production design. Each time in history that they jumped to was full of detail and thoroughly designed. I think of this movie as a good version of Forrest Gump. The group jumped around from time to time, yet maintained a story and was engaging. I doubt I will see this film too many more times, but it was a fun one to watch!
An error has occured. Please try again.