Time Bandits (Criterion Collection): 4K UHD Review

Available now on 4K UHD is Terry Gilliam’s 1981 adventure/fantasy classic, Time Bandits. This new restoration was supervised by Gilliam and includes an uncompressed stereo soundtrack. This film was a childhood favorite of mine. What I loved about some of the early 80’s family films like The Dark Crystal and Time Bandits, is that they were not afraid to go dark, while still being family friendly.

Kevin (Craig Warnock) is a young boy who loves history. His parents are more interested in the latest in modern household gadgets than their own son. One night when Kevin is in bed, a Knight on a horse comes crashing through his wardrobe and suddenly disappears into the wall. Unsure if it was real or a dream, he grabs his dad’s Polaroid camera to collect proof if it happens again. This time around, instead of a Knight, a group of dwarves come out of his wardrobe, having no clue where they are. It turns out they stole a special map from the Supreme Being and he wants it back. The map is able to take the group of bandits to various points in time and now they have dragged Kevin into their journey. Kevin’s knowledge of history becomes useful to the bandits, but unfortunately, that can’t save them from the Evil Genius (David Warner) who wants the map for himself.

Gilliam’s fast-paced time travel adventure is still a blast, more than four decades later and features some great cameos from Shelly Duvall, John Cleese, Ian Holm, and Sean Connery. However, the true stars of Time Bandits are the title characters. David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, Jack Purvis and Tiny Ross are the ones who help keep things so lively.

I had never viewed the 2K restoration Blu-ray that Criterion released in 2014. However, this new release that sports by Dolby Vision is quite lovely. Time Bandits takes place over so many different environments, like the forest, desert, ocean and even the villain’s dark underworld. Each location is incredibly detailed. A perfect example would be the Ogre’s ship in which the Bandits risk becoming dinner for the beast and his wife. The ship is a mix of dark shots from inside and the brightness of the deck.  As for audio, the 2.0 stereo track is more than fine with no issues to be found. The extras have been ported over from the 2014 Blu-ray release.

Bonus Features:

  • New 4K restoration, supervised by director Terry Gilliam, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack
  • One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray of the film with special features
  • Audio commentary featuring Gilliam, cowriter-actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock
  • Program on the creation of the film’s various historical periods and fantasy worlds, narrated by film writer David Morgan and featuring production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson
  • Conversation between Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh, recorded at the 1998 Midnight Sun Film Festival
  • Appearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show from 1981
  • Gallery of rare photographs from the set
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic David Sterritt

By: Marc Ferman