Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Sci-Fi Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Movies that are boring are the ones that I dislike the most. Even if they are well-made, well-acted, visually dynamic, or anything else that speaks to the film’s quality, if I am bored while watching it, I tend to not care as much about these factors. When a lot of effort has been put into a film, and yet, it doesn’t quite work the way it should, I feel disappointed.

Coincidentally, this is what I’m feeling about Twelve Monkeys, a film that does enough right to possibly warrant a watch, but because it didn’t captivate me, I can’t say that it was a great or even good watch. Films usually need to be entertaining, along with having high production values, and Twelve Monkeys just isn’t entertaining.

This is a shame, because, like I implied earlier, there are a lot of good things to be seen. The acting is what immediately stands out, and even if the characters are ones that you won’t end up caring about, the actors portraying them still did a great job.

Bruce Willis is our lead, playing a criminal convicted of…something, who is sent back in time in order to gather information about a virus that wiped out 99% of the human population. Apparently 5 billion people was 99% of us back in 1995. Anyway, we’re in the future, where convicted criminals are sent back in time, as they are expendable. Time travel is easy enough to do, so there aren’t any reservations about sending people in order to study the past.

Or maybe time travel isn’t all that easy. The first time Willis’ character is sent back, the ones controlling the machine miss the mark by six years. Instead of going back to 1996–the time right before the virus began eliminating the human population–he winds up in 1990. It is here where we meet our secondary characters. People in 1990 don’t believe that Willis comes from the future, and they take him to a mental institute.

He meets two characters there that end up mattering by the film’s finale. The first is his psychiatrist, played by Madeleine Stowe. He also meets a patient played by Brad Pitt, who’s mentally ill character ends up stealing each scene that he is in. He’s insane enough to keep you interested, while still being played believably enough to make it seem somewhat realistic.

The rest of the story is one that I’m not going to describe. It has many twists, and is just convoluted enough to be somewhat interesting to watch. Describing anything after this point would ruin the mystery surrounding the virus, characters and the mysterious “Army of the Twelve Monkeys“.

For some reason though, despite the acting being good and the story being somewhat interesting, the film just doesn’t stay entertaining. The bleak imagery lends itself nicely to this, with the bland, gray aesthetic mirroring my own enthusiasm regarding my viewing of Twelve Monkeys. I almost felt defeated by the film, having been almost put to sleep during my viewing of it.

For an older science fiction film, I was impressed by how well it has aged. Since most of the film takes place in the 1990’s, it was easy enough for director Terry Gilliam to be lax on the special effects. The technology used to send Willis back in time actually still looked fine, and it was nice to see that the film wouldn’t be hampered by outdated special effects.

And…that’s about all I really have to say about Twelve Monkeys. I just wasn’t really feeling it all that much. The plot was interesting, the characters were well-acted, even if you won’t really care about them, and the future technology still holds up many years later. Despite this, I was bored, really bored in fact. Yes, it was a well made film, but if I’m bored while watching it, I’m going to stop caring about the good parts. Twelve Monkeys wasn’t for me. I know many people did like it, and wasn’t a poorly made film by any stretch of the imagination, it was just one that didn’t interest me all that much.

1 thought on “Twelve Monkeys (1995)”

  1. Really? I didn’t find this movie boring at all. It’s actually one of my favorites specifically because of the wealth of detail in the world that Terry Gilliam creates, as well as the great job that Bruce Willis does in this role. He has a mixture of toughness and vulnerability in 12 Monkeys that he rarely displays in other roles, and I always felt that his performance was one of the things that held the film together. If sci-fi isn’t your cup of tea, though, I can understand how the plot might not hold your interest. It does get kind of frenetic at times.

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