12 Monkeys is what I would call a signature film. If someone who’d never seen a Terry Gilliam film asked me what movie most defines him, I’d point this person to 12 Monkeys. It takes all of his artistic madness and varied story-telling instincts and combines it into a single work of art. (however, if this person asked me for my favorite Gilliam film, or what I thought was his best work, I would point them to Time Bandits).
As with all of my reviews, they are intended as constructive evaluations of the edit and no offense is intended to the editor.
As I’ve come to expect from Jorge the audio editing was flawless. Absolutely nothing came across as a mistake, unintentional or overpowering. One of my tests on any fanedit is if I need to clutch my remote. I put it down and never needed it. Great work.
From pure editing perspective, this is Jorge’s typical excellent quality and is nearly good enough for release. Only one transition felt out of place/forced, which was when Railly is talking to Dr. Fletcher and has come to realize that Cole may have been telling the truth. The phone rings and rings and rings, and I kept waiting for Flether to pick it up or acknowledge it, only to have a very very sudden transition to Railly sleeping and waking to answer the phone. This transition really threw me off and pulled me out of the edit. It was the only thing I can complain about, but it was really drastic and worth mentioning.
From a Video quality perspective, this took a major hit. While I respect the color palette choice, the result was a really poor image. My 50″ plasma had major pixelation, and in one particular transition the circular banding was off the chart.
And lastly, the reformatting almost worked. For most of the film it was dramatic and beautiful, but when it didn’t work, it stuck out like a sore thumb and called attention to the fact that this was very much a fanedit. Scenes that were most striking are when Goines Sr is in the lab talking to Railly on the phone, the matting cut into his head very awkwardly, and then also when the animals are freed, it is obvious that elements are cut-off/out and makes it look like it was poorly formatted for TV, only to remember that it’s “wide-screen.”
Overall the between the heavy pixelation and reformatting I was repeatedly taken out of the flow of the edit.
As my canary in a coal mine, I had my wife watch this with me because she’s never seen the original. Putting the Audio and Video aside, how does the bold new take work? Really really great… right up until the end.
For the first, I’d say 80% of the movie I was absolutely loving this, it was everything I had been hoping it would be. Free of Gilliam’s ‘future’ the movie was now tightly focused on Cole and Dr. Railly. We watch their inverted trajectories with Railly believing Cole’s story more and more, and Cole believing his own story less and less. Brad Pitt’s character takes the biggest hit on the virtual editing room floor. Pitt was brilliant in his role and I was sad to see so many of his scenes go, but the sacrifice was worth it because he is not the focus of the edit and narratively, the story held up without him, both in pace and in structure.
But after Cole shows up outside the “Army’s” headquarters while Railly is spray-painting her message, the narrative began to unravel for me. It started with the small fissure of Railly mentioning the first call Cole made. Cole’s first call was edited out so this reference is odd because it made me wonder why the call was cut to begin with, it seems it would have helped cast doubt on Cole’s sanity. But we move on, and here a viewer not familiar with the original really has to pay close attention because critical things have been cut, clues that were once huge flashing neon signs of understanding are now subtle and easily missed.
We only hear that Goines Sr. was left in a zoo cage via the radio and that only briefly. This is important because it ties to why he was featured on the front page of USA Today, which is where Railly sees an image of Dr. Peters and figures out who really is behind the virus. Technically everything still lines up if you are looking for the dots, but at this point I had to start answering questions from my wife on ‘what just happened?’ and ‘why?’
But what finally threw me was Cole suddenly having a gun in his hand and asking Jose (who comes out of nowhere) who he should be shooting. This is completely without explanation and confusing. I’m guessing that we are to assume that Cole has had an encounter off-screen, but why is this cut? By now we no longer question Cole’s story. Cole knows he’s from the future, Railly knows he’s from the future and the audience knows that Dr. Peters is the ground zero for the virus. There is no need to hide visitors from the future at this point because the guessing game portion of the film is over. Withholding Jose’s conversation created a glaring hole which made the action-climax rushed and without cause.
And lastly as others have commented, the concluding footage of the future is really out of place. While the closing image of the sign is thematically nice, the coda itself was confusing. I would have been very happy with a single short scene of Cole being woken and taken from his cell, being told he’d been selected for a very important mission, which is where our movie started.
I know Jorge never revisits his work. Once it’s in the can he doesn’t look back, but this is one film where I hope he makes an exception. I loved this edit for most of the film and structurally, the end is all there for it to make sense. If the WTF moments of the final act were cleared up, this would be my go-to version of the film, superior to the original, but even without changes I would definitely recommend this as a great edit to watch and yet another example of thinking outside the conventional box.
This review is based on my opinions and my personal viewing experience. Nothing is meant as an attack. Spoiler warning.
I’ll keep it short ‘n sweet.
Loved it!!! Damn cool, once again.
Loved the “then” and “now” aspect.
The new Perspective worked great for me.
Audio seemed perfect to me.
LOVED the reframing, this film looks great in scope!
ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY F’ING LOVED the new color treatment, totally awesome! it’s like looking at a beautiful flower in full bloom. Bravo on that one my man!
A couple things baffled me at first, but i soon caught on. No i’m not gonna mention them for spoiler purposes.
To give myself some perspective, I watched this edit with my Father-inlaw, who has never seen the original movie.
(heck, he says he has never seen a Bruce Willis movie either… unbelievable!)
As an avid fan of the original, I was very curious to get an outsider’s point of view…
Did he understand the narrative?
Were there any points of confusion?
Did the story entertain?
Because in the end, no matter how fancy or technical the edit may be, it has to about Story and Entertainment Value.
So what did my 67 year old, former school teacher and principal, Father-inlaw think?
He loved it.
The madness of the movie totally captured his attention and would not let go. In fact, he made me pause the movie any time he had to leave the room, he did not want to miss a moment of the story.
Afterwards, I quizzed him if had any questions about the movie or if he felt there were any weak areas. He shook his head resoundingly “NO”, he said as far as he could tell it all worked for him and he had no idea what might have been edited in or out of the movie.
So for me, that is an awesome review! When a non-movie watcher will sit through an entire edit
and be entertained by the new narrative, you know you have winner on your hands.
From, my perspective, I would have to agree. This edit really works well throughout.
The new timeline is smooth, and works better than the original. I really enjoyed the new colour treatment, it gave the movie a very stark quality, and heightened the entire narrative for me.
The new aspect ratio works really well, though I did notice in the Chris Plummer/David Morse lab scene that their heads seemed very cut off in the close up.
I think all the cuts worked, though I sort of missed the phone call.
If I had to nitpik, [SPOILER WARING] I think I would have ended the movie on Young Cole
in the airport parking lot, and not have travelled to the future at all, as it would have stayed with the original premise and kept the future more a mystery. But that’s just me.
Another fine piece of work by Jorge. As always, the techinical aspects are superior.