Hello and welcome to Part 10 of my Journey into Science Fiction. The Beatles Yellow Submarine and Twelve Monkeys, what exactly links these two films together? Well, have a read of that post below to find out! As soon as I decided to revisit Twelve Monkeys, I wondered what I had let myself in for, only because this film was really confusing to watch the first time around. I only hope I grasped it a bit better for today’s look back at the Terry Gilliam directed dystopian tale.
Terry Gilliam has always managed to make a film look visually beautiful, none of that talent is left out as we are introduced to a dystopian future landscape that uses present-day architecture, steampunk and gothic elements to create this almost catastrophic feeling and mood within the film. James Cole Bruce Willis is introduced as a volunteer, but for what? Well after a nice hot shower and a pleasant walk outside, he is cleared for quarantine and we slowly begin to find out. James has a criminal past but is given the opportunity to help bring humanity back to the surface of the Earth again, but how?
Baltimore – April 1990 and James Cole is in now in a police cell and rambling and about the year 1996! Dr Kathryn Railly Madeleine Marie Stowe who is also present at the police station has no choice but to section James and send him to the local lunatic asylum. Once there James is to be shown around his new dwellings by long-time patient Jeffrey Goines Brad Pitt. I really love how this part of the film is shot, twisted camera angles and crazy sound effects come from the loony tunes cartoon on the television and it almost reminds me of the 66 Batman TV show in a way. James is given the chance to prove his sanity in front of a board of psychiatrists and for some reason, they don’t believe his story of events that have not yet unfolded, back to the asylum it is. Maybe he should just buy some fluffy bunny slippers and relax a bit.
So locked up, drugged up and nowhere to go, James decides to himself that the human race deserved to be wiped out. All that is until his good friend and cell buddy Jeffrey decides he can help him escape his current living arrangements. The plan to escape goes wrong, a nurse has a fractured skull and James is strapped to a bed in a secure cell and still, Dr Railly has a feeling all is not what it seems with James. It seems she has a point as her patient has managed to free himself of his shackles within a secure cell and disappear.
So we know James is a time traveller but his time travel crew have sent him to the wrong time, so decide he deserves another chance. Well, let’s hope they get it right this time . . . . . . World War One, no, that’s not right? Baltimore 1996 feels a lot better. The Doomsday Syndrome? Dr Railly’s new book, now available at all major outlets. Dr Railly has been doing some research and it turns out James isn’t the only one who claims to be from the future and in the war James just visited there was an English-speaking man, also claiming to be from a future timeline.
James Cole, now back in 1996, also in the back of Dr Railly’s car, I think we can call her Kathryn from now on, kidnaps her to help him track down the Twelve Monkeys in Philadelphia. What are the Twelve Monkeys? Well, a few paint splashes on the tarmac and walls leads to an army of animal activists that are run by non-other than James’s cell friend Jeffrey Goines. These activists believe they are fighting against humanity’s destruction of the environment.
Is this the cause of the disaster that ruins the planet for mankind? James decides to confront Jeffrey at the home of his father, who is, by the way, one of the world’s leading virologists! Another curve ball is thrown as it turns out it was James who mentioned the destruction of humanity when he was high on medicated drugs in the asylum, Jeffrey just adapted his story slightly. Turns out the Twelves Monkeys were never destined to wipe out humanity anyway, but set release all the animals from the local zoo and place Jeffrey’s dad in a cage.
So, who is responsible for the virus outbreak? Well, it turns out that it was an employee of Dr Leland Goines and there is more? Zoologist Simon Jones is also a fan of Kathryn’s work and her book, shown in a scene earlier as he gets a signed copy from her! It turns out that it is Simon who plans to release the virus via a tour of several cities in the US. Throughout the film, we witness a flashback and it turns out that flashback belongs to a young James. We watch as Zoologist Simon enter the airport to set upon releasing the virus to the World. The James we have watched in the movie does not manage to save the day but leave enough information in his younger self to see what needs to do when he is older . . . . . . I think?
So, this is where my brain goes into overtime! Is this some kind of time loop and how can it be broken? What I mean is what come first? Was it the virus because that only comes from an idea from The Doomsday book, or was it someone from the future who messed up the timeline? I love a film that leaves me with these questions though as it seems that each event is needed just as much as the other to complete this tale. There are so many more wonderful elements and plot twists to this film that I haven’t discussed but there is only so much you can fit into a review but I loved it. What a great film and one I really enjoyed revisiting after so long, Yeah, Back to The Future is wonderful but something like this really highlights just how messed up real-time travel could be. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yeah, I did notice one of the time travel crew on the plane with Simon? This leaves me with another question, why is he there, to kill Simon or work with him or did James manage to get his message to the future? I am really enjoying going back and watching these films as its a time when CGI was in its infancy and the sets had to be real, yes it can make the film look smaller but the authenticity is worth it. Also, the cast in this is wonderful and one of the best performances ever by Bruce Willis for me. What a ride.
What next for Part 11 of my Journey into Science-Fiction? Okay, I’m going to keep this one simple as this is a film I have never watched before and always wanted too. The composer for the soundtrack of Twelve Monkeys is Paul Buckmaster, who also worked with David Bowie for the film The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. So, there you go, I’m a huge Bowie fan but this film has eluded me for long enough., it was only a matter of time before I would get to see it. Thank you for reading and I really hope you come back for my next review as I dig deeper into the world of Science-Fiction.