Tuesday, July 7, 2009

12 Monkeys. A-

Time travel in the cinema has certainly had its ups and downs. Some movies that use it, such as 'Back to the Future' and 'Terminator 2' are absolutely brilliant. Others, such as 'Timeline,' Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' and 'The Jacket' have been less succesful. Luckily, Terry Gilliam's (who has used time travel before with 'Time Bandits') '12 Monkeys' fits into the former category as a near masterpiece. The year is 2035, and most of man has been destroyed by a deadly virus. The remaining population, including James Cole (Bruce Willis) are forced to live underground, where the world is dark and dreary. To obtain information on the virus, Cole, a convicted criminal, goes back in time in exchange for a pardon. The only problem is that he goes back to 1990 rather than 1996, and is put in an isane asylem where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and a mental pateint named Jeffery Goines (Brad Pitt). Cole manages to make it back to the present time, where scientists tell him to find the army of the Twelve Monkeys, the group they think is responsible for the virus. They also inform him that Goines is the leader of the army. Cole is sent back to the proper year, 1996, where he again meets Railly, whom he kidnaps. Thus begins Cole's pursuit of Goines, as he is also chased by the police for kidnapping Railly. '12 Monkeys' is a dazzling sc-fi adventure to say the least. The movie is actually based off of a French short, 'La Jetee,' which uses mostly still photographs to tell the story. Here, Gilliam uses a nice Hollywood production budget and a group of A list stars (particualy Pitt, who shines in his role) to help create a genuine, and very creepy world. I can't talk too much about the movie without giving away some significant spoilers. I will say that the climatic scene is pure magic, an example of creativity at its best. It's hard to say how happy a movie '12 Monkeys' is. The movie ends with the inevitable virus becoming unleashed, but since at that moment we're in the past, it's hard to feel horrified since we already know the virus will be spread from what we've already seen in the future. In any case, '12 Monkeys' definitely belongs on the list of great modern Science Fiction movies, as it easily draws comparisons to such classics as 'Blade Runner' and 'Dark City.'

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