James Cole volunteers to return to the beginning of the end and find out why the world lost 5 billion people to a virus and how they can stop the infection from destroying life as we know it.
Film making 20/25
Bonus Features 15/25
12 Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a convicted criminal living underground in the year 2035 who “volunteers” to reduce his sentence. The human race has been nearly wiped out by a virus that started in 1996 and scientists ask for volunteers to go on the surface to collect samples.
They are not sure how the virus started and when they discover a way to travel backward in time they send their best volunteer to go find out. James Cole is sent back in time but to the wrong year and when police pick him up and he tells them he is from the future they of course lock him up.
In a mental institute he meets Jeffrey Goines, played by Brad Pitt, who shows him around but James is not really crazy he is from the future. Doctors do not believe him and soon he almost convinces Dr. Kathryn Railly but when he tries to place a call to a voice mail to leave a message that the scientists in his time will hear he gets some woman’s apartment.
James tries to escape and fails only to be locked up in a cell in the hospital to be whisked away by the scientists of the future. When they figured out he was sent to the wrong time they bring him back and question him then send him to the correct time for him to find out more about how the virus started.
He discovers something about a group called the Army of the Twelve Monkeys who start the virus and again meets Dr. Kathryn Railly when he winds up in 1996. He kidnaps Dr. Railly to convince her about why he is there and also finds Jeffrey Goines is the leader of the 12 Monkeys.
Through several convoluted twists and turns of fate the story continues through its inevitable conclusion as time cannot be changed. James leaves a message to the future scientists that the Army of the Twelve Monkeys is the wrong target and he will not be returning to the future.
James Cole and Dr. Railly learns that Goines is not responsible for the virus outbreak but a scientist that was working with him to create it is. James tries to kill the scientist as he heads to his plane at the airport only to be shot by security in front of Dr. Railly and a small boy that turns out to be James when he was young.
He saw his own death and has dreamed of it ever since not knowing what it meant and the inevitable virus outbreak starts by the scientist traveling the world releasing it at various points. 12 Monkeys is a great film from noted director Terry Gilliam who again presents us with a dark tale much like previous films like Brazil.
The film is a great one with less emphasis on the set and nice looking scenery but more on the actors and characters as well as the plot and twists. The film has some great performances by Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe with Brad Pitt receiving a nomination for supporting actor at the academy awards and winning a golden globe for the same role.
12 Monkeys is a really good movie with one of those major twists that you see coming but do not quite know exactly how they will play it out. The Blu-ray edition has some good video and well done audio but the video is not that great.
The Blu-ray transfer came out grainy but with good color and decent video but it did not come out as well as it could have. The dream sequences are intentionally bright and hazy around the edges but the rest of the film is grainy and lower quality.
The color is good and the scenes in the future are drab and well done with a look of underground living with a lack of vibrant colors and textures which is expected. The main storyline in modern times has good color and well done skin tones but the entire picture is grainy throughout.
The audio is better and came out quite well with good use of surround sound and effects that make the film much better using the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The audio is well done with the only exception being some slightly muffled voices at times that was the only problems I could hear during the film.
The extras on the Blu-ray edition are not really all that much including an audio commentary track with Director Terry Gilliam and Producer Charles Roven. The other two features are a twelve minute 12 Monkeys archive of pictures of the film and an 87 minute making of feature called The Hamster Factor & Other Tales of 12 Monkeys.
The documentary The Hamster Factor is an overall good making of feature that shows the film from before filming to final editing and in theatres for a comprehensive look at the movie. The bonus content is not that much here but is worth a look at least once for fans of the movie with The Hamster Factor being the best of the three.
12 Monkeys is a great film and well worth owning for its social and political commentary as well as the science fiction and twists of fate that Terry Gilliam put into his films. This is a thinking man’s movie that you have to actually watch and pay attention to understand what is going on and to follow the plot.
The film really says a lot and is quite thought provoking as the film is now a few years old and future events which may not be coming true but are at least becoming possible. 12 Monkeys in Blu-ray is well worth a purchase if you want the best possible audio and video for this film but not really worth a second purchase if you already own it.