In some ways, “Time Bandits” was ahead of its time. One of the first 1980s family films to hold interest of children and parents alike, the fall fantasy flick was a significant box-office success.
Former Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam, an American expatriate, brainstormed the idea of a child traveling through different times surrounded by little people (including Kenny Baker, aka R2-D2 of “Star Wars“). Gilliam’s vision featured low camera angles to provide the perspective of these characters.
Bankrolled by George Harrison’s Handmade Films, “Time Bandits” follows them as they meet Napoleon (Ian Holm of “The Lord of the Rings“), Robin Hood (Python colleague John Cleese) and Agamemnon (Sean Connery). The former James Bond was cast after the script co-written by Gilliam and Python’s Michael Palin referenced the character removing a helmet to reveal Connery or “an actor of equal but cheaper stature.” Talk about blackmail!
Since its 1981 release, the film has charmed families, expanded imaginations and ever-so-slightly frightened its youngest viewers. Recently, the 70-year-old Gilliam even announced plans to upconvert the 1981 movie to the 3-D format.
Considering the film’s rich stature, Anchor Bay’s new Blu-ray edition is a bit of a disappointment. The single-disc release’s extra features are scarce (only an 18-minute Gilliam interview and original theatrical trailer are offered ” both in standard definition), especially when compared to previous two-disc DVD sets. Even more underwhelming is the mediocre picture presented in 1080i, although the film’s DTS-HD audio soundtrack is adequately upgraded in the Blu-ray format. The definitive edition this is not, but it might be worth buying on the cheap if you can’t wait for an expanded release. “Rob Collins