Review of 'Time Bandits'

time_bandits.jpg A classic film from Monty Python alumni “Terry Gilliam” that just so happens to feature other Pythons including Michal Palin and John Cleese never mind cameos from various cinema and theatre greats including Ian Holm, Kenny Baker (famous for his role as R2-D2 in Star Wars), Shell Duvall, and Sean Connery.

Kevin (Craig Warnock) is a young boy fascinated by history but neglected by his parents until one day when a band of self-styled time-travelling thieves emerge from his wardrobe. Fidget (Kenny Baker) is the self-appointed leader of the group who have stolen a map of “holes” in the universe space/time from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson) that they plan to use to steal riches from various points in time. Their visit visit is to Italy 1796 where Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm) is being unhappily entertained by a group of travelling minstrels. Seizing the opportunity, the time travellers put on their own entertainment and escape with Napolean's riches. They escape to the middle ages, meeting up with Robin Hood (John Cleese) who is only too happy to take their riches and distribute it to the poor…though Hood's “Merry Men” have other ideas. Everywhere they go, the Supreme Being is hot on their tales…it is only a matter of time before he catches up.

A light and fun Python-esque bit of escapism. Certainly of it's time (the early 1980s) it has all the hallmarks of a Gilliam picture except that this one actually makes a certain amount of sense with the story kept quite simple, concentrating instead of the memorable and entertaining characters. Really the story is just an excuse for a number of comedic skits set with various historic characters. Thankfully, these characters are all played to their stereotypes rather than any extended degree of accuracy which adds to the humour. To be sure, this is old-school comedy of the slap-stick variety and no apologies are made about it. Certainly the effects are not exactly “Star Wars” but they are perfectly fine. I do have to say that the end seems to come a bit too quickly and it is perhaps a bit too easily resolved with only the barest attempt at addressing the issue Kevin's lack of parental support (cue Sean Connery).

Great fun and more than a bit funny with a great cast and easy-to-follow story.

P.S. For years have had that ear-worm of song from the credit sequence by Ringo Starr (“Dream Away”) in my head…I suspect I will never be rid of it!

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-09-06

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Studio: HandMade Films

Year: 1981

Length: 116 minutes

Genre: Fantasy

Other reviewed films by Terry Gilliam: