Time Bandits may be Gilliam’s most consistently entertaining movie, but it still displays his flaws as much as his strengths. It’s visually imaginative — on a smallish budget — filled with invention, but also rambling and all over the (literal) map.
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An uneven special effects extravaganza about a little boy who winds up traveling through world history along with five midgets. Together they meet and frustrate the great and the near-great. Including Napoleon, Robin Hood, and the devil. Unfortunately, there are just too many visits to famous people. The film was created by some of the people responsible for the Monty Python comedies. [25 Dec 1981, p.12]
For a kids film this is pleasingly dark with Gilliam delivering as much classical fairy tale as knockabout comedy.
Good as the cameos are, however, the lasting draw of the film is its exceptional aesthetic. Gilliam keeps his camera low in a child’s perspective, and wide-angle lenses only exacerbate the magnified sense of scale that everything has.
The blend of quick-moving adventure, familiar faces, lowbrow slapstick, highbrow wit, and visual style offers more than one thing to just about everyone. And, with an ending that mocks the idea of happily ever after, Time Bandits concludes perfectly.
An extraordinarily inventive fantasy in which schoolboy Warnock is rescued from a dull suburban existence by a band of renegade dwarfs, who emerge from his wardrobe and whisk him off on an incredible journey through time and space. Sometime Monty Python animator Gilliam fills the screen with bizarre images, and directs with a breathless ingenuity.
First reactions while viewing Time Bandits: It's amazingly well-produced. The historic locations are jammed with character and detail. This is the only live-action movie I've seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine, with kings and swordsmen and wide-eyed little boys and fearsome beasts.
It’s sloppy and slippery, but for a $5 million movie, it’s remarkable.
Time Bandits is a cheerfully irreverent lark - part fairy tale, part science fiction and part comedy. It's a fantastic though wobbly flight through history and legend in the company of a small boy named Kevin and six dwarfs named Randall, Fidgit, Wally, Og, Stutter and Vermin.