(Review originally written at 1 March 2009)

Terry Gilliam might not be as well known and appreciated as the Spielbergs, the Kubricks and the Scorseses of our world but he certainly has the same status as those directors, especially in the world of movie making business itself. Just look at all those big name actors who are always willing to play in his movies, for a very small payment, also often in some quite small and odd roles, like Robert De Niro in "Brazil" and Brad Pitt in this movie.

Gilliam movies are not easy to place in one corner. They often have surreal elements of pure chaos but they are yet made with an incredible eye for detail and precision. "Twelve Monkeys" is above all things a science-fiction movie but unlike any that you have ever seen before. It doesn't use any fancy effects or futuristic looking places. It's instead more set in the 'present' time and the futuristic elements from the movie are all far from looking settling. It's a filthy and depressing future, which also helps to bring you close to the main character. It certainly is one of the essential science-fiction movies from the '90's.

It's a very visually rich movie, that is very imaginatively put together. But no, the movie is not just purely style over substance. It also has a really great written story, that takes on original approach on time traveling. It doesn't progress as you think it does and the story is in constant motion and development. It provides the movie with some great moments, as well as a great and unforgettable ending, that makes the overall movie perhaps even better.

It stars Bruce Willis in the main lead but in a role like you have never seen him in before. It's perhaps his most emotional and involving roles. It also stars Brad Pitt in a totally crazy role, before he had reached the true status of a big Hollywood celebrity (the movie has already began production and signed on Pitt before the release of movies such as "Se7en" and "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles"). It still is perhaps the best role Pitt ever played and it also earned him his first Oscar nomination.

It also is perhaps Terry Gilliams best movie till date and it also certainly still is his best known one and commercial most successful one, despite the fact that this is not really a mainstream movie and this certainly also is not Gilliams style, as can be seen in this unique, visually and narratively strong movie.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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