Time Bandits (1980)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Time Bandits</strong> (1980)

(On DVD, September 2018) I really expected Time Bandits to be more fun than it is—after all, it’s a Terry Gilliam production, a visually inventive kid’s-fantasy film that seems to have stuck a whole generation of viewers. (But not me the first time around—I was slightly too young.) Alas, and this is not really the film’s fault as much as the evolving industry standard, there has been an explosion of kids-fantasy movies since then, each showing new thrills, fancier special effects and more fluid directing. For all of the considerable creative efforts made in Time Bandits’ production, it definitely looks dated today—rigid directing constrained by special-effects requirements, with obvious soundstage backdrops and overdone acting. I did like quite a bit—the Lego pieces in the climactic sequence are fun, and there are some visually arresting sequences. Plus, hey, Sean Connery. Alas, the appeal of the film stayed limited, not quite strong enough from a story perspective to transcend its production limitations. Time Bandits fans should rest easy, though—I’m writing essentially the same review for all sorts of other kids-fantasy films of the early eighties, from Time Bandits to The Neverending Story to Erik the Viking. Time moves on, and for views without an initial attachment to the film at their moment of release, it can be an uphill climb to discover them today with all of their shortcomings.

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