Arrow Video has given Terry Gilliam’s science fiction classic Twelve Monkeys the 4K treatment.
DVDs and Blu Rays may not be selling like they did a few years ago. The decline in sales has everything to do with the rise of streaming serives like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Sales may see a further decline in the future when new streaming services from Disney and Warner are at full strength.
The folding of FilmStruck (Criterion has announced a new service starting in 2019) has made one thing clear, “If you want to preserve your favorite films, and you’re a cinema lover, than Blu-ray or DVD is the way to go.” Of course digitizing and formatting a movie for streaming, and presuming the movie will never be lost in a Skynet like Internet crash, is the ultimate in movie preservation. But will you always have access to it?
Odds are every movie in every Marvel movie phase will be available for streaming no matter where you or what device you may have access to at the moment. FilmStruck was aimed more towards the true fan of cinema, but as the closing of FilmStruck has painfully shown you’re not going to have access to every movie whenever you want.
By preserving movies we mean for your collection or for anytime you have to watch a movie than Blu-ray or DVD is the way to go. You will always have access to the movie no matter if you have an Internet connection or not. True, you will not be able to watch the movie on a phone or a tablet. That’s fine. Movies were not meant to be watched on a small screen or an iPad.
There are a few companies bringing great DVDs and Blu-rays to the market. Criterion, Kino Lorber, and Arrow Video are a few of the bigger names bringing films to the masses. These reviews are for the cinema lover and the film fan who still buy physical media and if we get other people to climb aboard than so much more the better.
“The Future is history.”
Arrow Video, established in 1991, restores and redistributes a wide arrange of movies. Whereas the Criterion Collection is focused more on classic movies, Arrow Video’s catalog ranges from Gailo horror classics like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage to classics like The Apartment to little seen independent movies like The Addiction. Arrow Video recently released onto Blu-ray Terry Gilliam’s 1996 sci-fi classic Twelve Monkeys.
James Cole (Bruce Willis) is a prisoner from the future sent back in time to track the spread of a virus responsible for killing most of the human population. Once back in the future Cole develops a relationship with Dr. Kathryn Railly, played by Madeline Stowe, and the two track down a seriously deranged Jeffrey Goines, played by Brad Pitt.
Twelve Monkeys is a movie of time travel, love, and serious mental issues. Is everything happening going on in Cole’s head. Maybe Cole is crazy. Maybe everything we’re seeing are the ramblings of mad man.
The other possibility is it’s all true and people will start dying in late 1996. One of the last scenes of the movies is Dr. Peters, played by David Morse, boarding a plane with his briefcase full of viruses. What’s even more interesting to consider is no matter what Cole does or who he calls in the future Dr. Peters will always unleash his virus into the world.
No matter which point of view you take the one thing that is true is Gilliam has crafted a modern science fiction masterpiece.
The Packaging: Be honest. The first thing you notice about any product is the packaging. Arrow Video has done a good job packaging Twelve Monkeys.The cover art blends the iconic Twelve Monkeys logo (A clock with monkeys for numbers) with a giant monkey face in the middle. The “12 Monkeys” written in white pop off on the red background.
Inside, of course, is the disc. The disc art is of television screens with faces on them, a nod to the television monitors the doctors of the future use when interrogating Cole.
Inside the case is a booklet with a nice article, “The Audacity of Hopelessness: Twelve Monkeys’ Grim Vision of the Future and the Present,” by Nathan Rabin. We won’t break down the article, but it’s well worth the read. There’s also an excerpt from Ian Christie’s Gilliam on Gilliam.
Special Features: Unfortunately, the special features are lacking on the Arrow release. The Gilliam and producer Charles Rosen commentary is the same one found on the previous Blu-ray edition.
The Hamster Factory and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys is also found on the previous Blu-ray edition. It’s an interesting documentary about the making of Twelve Monkeys and worth watching if you have never seen it before.
There’s also a 1996 interview with Gilliam at the London Film Festival. It’s your basic interview set up with nothing earth shattering revealed in the Q&A.
The one new special feature is an appreciation of the film by Ian Christie. The appreciation doesn’t add anything new to the conversation. In fact, it sounds like Christie is rehashing everything from the documentary and from the interview. How many times do you have to hear Twelve Monkeys was based on Chris Marker’s La Jetee?
The real feature is the 4K restoration of the movie. You do not need a 4K TV or player to play the disc. The 4K process was done during the restoration process. You may not have a 4K TV but you will still get the benefit of a better quality picture and the original aspect ratio. Previous DVD and Blu-ray releases will pale in comparison.
Final Verdict: With nothing new to offer except a 4K restoration Arrow Video’s Twelve Monkeys will only appeal to the Twelve Monkeys’ fan who needs the best picture possible. Owners of previous Blu-ray editions are probably not going to rush out and get what is basically the same thing they already have at home.