12 Monkeys (1995)

DVD Cover (Universal Special Edition)
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Overall Rating 71%
Overall Rating
Ranked #171
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Connections: 12 Monkeys

Claiming to be a time traveler from the distant 2035, James Cole--a delusional patient hospitalized in a 1990 mental institution--feels compelled to carry out his important mission: to save the world from a devastating virulent agent capable of annihilating billions. However, as Cole's psychiatrist, Dr. Kathryn Railly, senses that there is more to him than meets the eye, a fateful encounter with another inmate--the unhinged, Jeffrey Goines--will trigger a string of unfathomable events, balancing between the past and the present, sanity and insanity. Now, all clues point to the extreme activist group known only as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys; nevertheless, is the reality Cole so eloquently describes, indeed, true, or is it only a disturbing but subjective hallucination? --IMDb
Joseph Melito
Joseph Melito
Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
Jon Seda
Jon Seda
Michael Chance
Michael Chance
Vernon Campbell
Vernon Campbell
Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 01, 2008
Time for the choo-choo train of hate mail to come tumbling my way...

You either love Terry Gilliam or you hate him. I am part of that select group that appreciates some of his work, to an extent, but loathes the majority of it. I don't think I have ever 'absolutely loved' a Terry Gilliam film. I find a lot to admire about "Brazil" and a lot to admire about "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen". I find moments of wonder in "Time Bandits" and moments of sheer genius in "The Fisher King". But, for the most part, I think Terry Gilliam is one of those directors who is more concerned with visuals than story. As I said, I can find something to like in almost every Terry Gilliam film. "Tideland" was an exception. Unfortunately, so is "12 Monkeys".

I remember seeing this film in theatres when it was first released -- back when I had a huge crush on Brad Pitt. I remember hating it then. I recently gave it another chance. I hated it just as much, if not more. I understand what Gilliam was trying to go for -- I just think he failed miserably every step of the way. The story is all over the place, and though I understood every step and every jump -- it wasn't that interesting. I almost fell asleep during the film the second time around. I kept waiting for this one scene...this one redeeming moment when I could smile and say to myself -- "Now, that's what everyone sees in him!" That moment never came.

As for performances, boy are they a mixed bag. Bruce Willis is doing what Bruce Willis always does. He has no range and no emotional connection with the character. He furrows his brow occasionally and that is supposed to account for the summation of his acting. He would go on to turn in some quality performances, but back when he was doing crap like "12 Monkeys", he was strictly one note. Brad Pitt is over-the-top and erratic as ever, and I suppose he turns in a good performance, but I just thought his character was too annoying to be appreciated for much more than foliage. And, poor, poor Madeline Stowe. She doesn't make many films these days for a reason. She is bland, cardboard and just about as lifeless as Corey Haim's bank account.

And I know what most people will say -- "But what about the visuals!" Who gives a rat's ass?! Just because a turd looks pretty, that doesn't mean I want to stick it in my mouth. Gilliam always has interesting visuals in his films. The problem is that he doesn't know why they are there or how to tie them in to the story. I suppose his best attempt was with "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", but I didn't care for that film either. I want to see a director who is comfortable enough with himself to let the story do what it's supposed to do and build the visuals around it. Gilliam builds the visuals first and then worries about the story. Films don't work well that way. When they do work well, you're Tim Burton. When they don't, you're Terry Gilliam.

In summation, "12 Monkeys" is just another Terry Gilliam flick that is all flash and no cash. Just because a rainbow looks pretty, that doesn't mean there's a pot of gold at the end of it.

Crispy #1: Crispy - added 06/01/2008, 04:58 AM
I want to bitch and everything, but a review that uses the line 'Just because a turd looks pretty, that doesn't mean I want to stick it in my mouth" is just...wow.
Ginose #2: Ginose - added 06/01/2008, 05:54 AM
I cannot even begin to explain all the things I disagree with, but I'll just leave my socre of 8.3/10 and let it sit... I[m too exaughsted to disect a review, right now...
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 06/01/2008, 06:16 PM
Excuse me, but I thought that analogy was an appropriate one. And I am glad you are too exhausted to dissect. There is nothing to dissect. I disliked the film. You obviously liked it. End of story.
Crispy #4: Crispy - added 06/01/2008, 06:29 PM
End of nothing. You're just on the 'It's Cool to Hate This Movie' bandwagon.
bluemeanie #5: bluemeanie - added 06/02/2008, 01:39 AM
Nice attempt to use my own terminology against me. Too bad I'm in the minority on this one, so it doesn't apply.
Crispy #6: Crispy - added 06/02/2008, 01:51 AM
You're kidding me? You really missed the sarcasm in that? Even after the big The Life Aquatic thing you thought was so hilarious. C'mon man, we expect better of you than that.
bluemeanie #7: bluemeanie - added 06/02/2008, 10:21 AM
I didn't miss the sarcasm. I replied sarcastically. We need some sort of English to Sarcasm translator on here.
Crispy #8: Crispy - added 06/02/2008, 11:09 AM
Apparently your sarcasm is a bit dryer than what I'm accustomed to. It's like sarcasm dialects haha.
Tristan #9: Tristan - added 06/02/2008, 11:53 AM
That like drier?
Crispy #10: Crispy - added 06/02/2008, 11:56 AM
Don't be forcing your Canadian shenanigans on me. Down here, we think Y is good enough to handle both consonant and vowel duties. It's time you cut the apron straps and stop babying it.
Edd #11: Edd - added 06/03/2008, 02:05 PM
I agree with Billy. Brad Pitt's acting is just terrible, and the entire film has been done before in different degrees. 3/10
Chad #12: Chad - added 01/22/2009, 09:09 PM
I'm sort of in the middle on this one. I think it's a little better than what the review let on, but it certainly doesn't deserve to rank at #187 on iMDB's top movies page. I liked the storyline to an extent though, so I think a 6/10 sounds about right.
Lucid Dreams #13: Lucid Dreams - added 11/07/2010, 09:15 PM
Just like Chad I'm in the middle with this one. When I saw it I thought it was alright, but I doubt I will watch it again. 6/10
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