Once when I was a kid, I remember flipping through the channels and catching part of Time Bandits somewhere on cable. I was just starting to get into Monty Python at the time and somehow I knew that this movie was from some of the same people. I watched it for a while, I remember being very interested at first, but eventually deciding that it was just really weird, and thinking that maybe I just didn’t understand it because I hadn’t watched it from the beginning. Well, I’ve now seen the film from the beginning and I still don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense. On one level it’s an interesting story, with a fantastic cast, and just a truly imaginative fantasy tale aimed at adults and clever teenagers. On the other hand it is really pretty weird, and isn’t that consistently funny, and a lot of the featured cast only appear in what amount to extended cameos.
On paper I should really love this movie. I remain a huge fan of most everything Python, and the films blend of fantasy, history, and theology is right in my proverbial wheelhouse, but I didn’t really enjoy this movie as much as I want to enjoy it. Honestly, it’s almost the exact feeling I had after watching part of it all those years ago. Maybe it”s not funny enough. Maybe it’s because the history isn’t exactly all that good. Maybe the blatant deus ex machina ending feels cheap, despite being set-up pretty fairly. Maybe it’s because it really needs to be seen in a theater. Maybe it’s because, (and I know I keep coming back to this,) the film is just a bit to weird for me. I don’t know.
I do absolutely love the trailer:
I wish the film were as good as the trailer. Back in my Chariots of Fire review I criticized my teenage self for totally misjudging that film. Well, my teenage self was right-on with this one. There’s a reason why I haven’t seen any other films directed by Terry Gilliam, and it’s because I just don’t quite get his point of view. All this said, I would regret it if I hadn’t seen this film in its entirety. Some people absolutely love it, and I can see how. Even here I can’t find too much to really criticize. I just couldn’t get comfortable with the mood of the piece. Still, it was worth a few laughs, and there were at least two or three genuinely clever moments, and so for that reason, I am going to call this one worth seeing.