Movie Poster
Time Bandits
Terry Gilliam
John Cleese, Sean Connery, Ian Holm, David Warner, David Rappaport, Craig Warnock
110 min.


What is it about David Warner that makes him so fucking cool? I'm not sure I can answer that, but it is on prominent display throughout Time Bandits. Usually when you see David Warner, he's in a film bad enough to make David Giancola vomit with bilious indignance. But he's good in it. Not here. Evil, as written by Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, is a fantastic combination of charm and villiany. Paired with Warner's all-engines-ahead over-the-top performance it is one of the cinema's few perfect achievements.

The rest of the movie isn't so consistent. Bits of it are brilliant, pure and simple: John Cleese as Robin Hood; Ian Holm as Napoleon; such a demented ending (and is this a kids movie?). It does drag in parts, though, some sections lacking the brilliant comic drive that informs most of the movie. Sean Connery's Agamemnon cannot match Cleese's Hood, but upon repeated viewings it ceases to seem like a low-light and becomes a necessary pause as the plot hurtles toward its inevitable grand climactic showdown between good and Evil.

The cast, beyond the aforementioned stars, is filled with recognizeable names and faces, and is almost uniformly great. They managed to find a child actor (Craig Warnock) for the lead who is cute without being cutesy, and a remarkably capable actor, too. The midgets who accompany him on his adventures (or rather he on theirs) are all good. David Rappaport and Jack Purvis are great. (Jack Purvis also shows up in Gilliam's Brazil and 12 Monkeys).

Gilliam and Palin take a stock boy-meets-dwarves, dwarves-against-evil premise and fill it so full of humor and invention it feels at times like its going to spin off the reels. The visuals are sharp and stylish. The script has wit to spare. And David Warner exudes enough villianous charisma that I cannot imagine a better personification of the concept of Evil.

Pat Jackson