Mighty Chroma Logo
Mighty Chroma Logo

12 Monkeys

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 6 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • 12 Monkeys on 4K UHD by Arrow is highly recommended, merging complex storytelling with superb audiovisuals, albeit with minor flaws.

    12 Monkeys 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • 12 Monkeys' 4K UHD release by Arrow Video, approved by Gilliam, enhances its visual depth and color but faces criticism for a disc error and its intentionally gritty aesthetic.

  • Audio
  • The 12 Monkeys audio review highlights detailed and immersive DTS-HD MA 5.1 and PCM 2.0 tracks, with a focus on clarity, ambiance, and effective use of surrounds, despite slight LFE limitations.

  • Extra
  • This UHD edition of 12 Monkeys features repeat bonus content from prior releases, including a commentary with Gilliam and Roven, The Hamster Factor documentary, interviews, and archives, enriched by a collectible booklet and reversible sleeve in its first pressing.

  • Movie
  • 12 Monkeys, a Terry Gilliam masterpiece, navigates time-travel's complexities in a dystopian world, artistically blending insanity, love, and existential crises, wrapped in visually intricate sets and potent performances, inviting viewers into a surreal, cerebral experience.

    Video: 92

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "12 Monkeys," meticulously restored and presented by Arrow Video, offers a significant upgrade from previous home video editions, especially the 2018 Arrow Video release and the 2009 Universal Studios Blu-ray. Utilizing the original 35mm camera negatives, the film underwent a 4K 16-bit scan at EFilm, Burbank, followed by a restoration and HDR color grading (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) at Silver Salt Restoration, London. This process was closely supervised and approved by director Terry Gilliam, ensuring fidelity to his vision. The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with enhanced stereo and 5.1 audio mixes remastered by NBC Universal, aiming for the most authentic auditory experience.

    Despite its undeniable enhancements in resolution, grain management, and color depth, the 4K presentation of "12 Monkeys" navigates the challenges inherent to its source material. The cinematic techniques utilized by Gilliam, including diffusion filters and a broad range of lenses, contribute to an intentionally gritty and stylistically hazy aesthetic that doesn't always benefit from increased clarity. Yet, in many instances, especially in scenes lush with detail or rich in contrast, this new scan excels, revealing intricate textures and nuances previously lost. The HDR grading elevates the visual experience, deepening blacks and enriching colors to offer a more dynamic and immersive viewing. Highlights are tighter, and shadow details are more discernible, despite the haziness imposed by the original cinematographic choices.

    Notably, this release is not without its faults. A peculiar defect concerning repeated footage and slight audio misalignment during a critical sequence has been identified, detracting from an otherwise stellar transfer. While such issues may not significantly impact all viewers, enthusiasts familiar with "12 Monkeys" could find these inaccuracies momentarily jarring. Arrow Video has acknowledged these concerns, suggesting a potential corrective action in the future. Despite this hiccup, the 4K UHD presentation of "12 Monkeys" stands out as a commendable effort to preserve and enhance the film's unique visual style, offering a richer and more detailed viewing experience that respects Gilliam's original artistic intentions.

    Audio: 90

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "12 Monkeys" delivers an engaging auditory experience, primarily via its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track which impressively opens up the soundstage with precise separation across the front channels. The surround channels immerse the viewer in a world of ambient sounds, from bustling crowds and traffic to atmospheric weather conditions and the titular monkeys. The audio presentation shines in its delivery of dialogue—crisp, clear, and with purposeful directionality that enhances the viewing experience. Notably, the film's score is meticulously spread across the speakers, creating an enveloping surround environment. While the bass offers tight and controlled support, the low-frequency effects (LFE) are somewhat restrained, never overwhelming but adequately reinforcing the overall sound mix.

    Comparatively, the addition of an LPCM 2.0 stereo track presents an alternate auditory experience that accentuates dialogue, making it more prominent in the mix. This version might appeal to purists or those seeking a different perspective on the film’s sound design. Despite some unique mixing decisions that occasionally bury dialogue under layers of effects—in true Gilliam style—the stereo track and the 5.1 mix both ensure that key elements of the soundscape, including Paul Buckmaster's evocative score, are clear and distinct. These audio options offer viewers a choice between a more dialogue-forward presentation and a dynamic surround sound experience.

    Both audio tracks preserve the film’s intricate sound design with fidelity, ensuring that voices and effects transition smoothly across channels to enhance the sense of disorientation and mania central to the film’s narrative. The 5.1 track, in particular, demonstrates a commendable balance, with dialogue always emerging cleanly from the center channel and minor ambient sounds filling crowded scenes without detracting from clarity. Although the LFE channels may not deliver ground-shaking power, they provide sufficient depth to action sequences. Above all, the audio presentation respects the original sound design’s integrity while offering a fresh listening experience that complements the visually stunning 4K transfer.

    Extra: 87

    The 4K UHD edition of "12 Monkeys" brings together a comprehensive collection of extras that fans of Terry Gilliam's work will greatly appreciate. Noteworthy is the audio commentary with Gilliam and producer Charles Roven, providing insightful details on the making of the film, despite slight editing from the original LaserDisc version. The standout feature-length documentary, "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys," directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, offers an in-depth look at the movie's production through engaging behind-the-scenes footage. Additional materials include an interview with Gilliam recorded at the 1996 London Film Festival, an appreciation segment by Ian Christie, and a visually rich Twelve Monkeys Archive. While most of these extras are repeats from previous releases, their inclusion here underscores the enduring fascination with Gilliam's vision and the film's legacy. The packaging also features a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork, enhancing the collectible appeal of this release.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio commentary: With Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven
    • The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys: Feature-length making-of documentary
    • The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam: 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney
    • Appreciation by Ian Christie: Analysis and appreciation of the film by the author of Gilliam on Gilliam
    • The Twelve Monkeys Archives: A collection of storyboards, design sketches, behind-the-scenes photos, and more
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Reversible sleeve: Featuring original and newly commissioned artwork

    Movie: 91

    Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film "12 Monkeys," presented in stunning 4K UHD Blu-ray by Arrow Video, continues to stand as a testament to the director's prowess in weaving complex narratives within equally complex settings. Highly reminiscent of his earlier masterpiece, Brazil, yet imbued with its unique essence, "12 Monkeys" delves into the convoluted realms of time travel, existential quandaries, and the thin line separating sanity from insanity. Gilliam, despite being somewhat of a 'director for hire' at this juncture in his career, was captivated by the film's intricate screenplay, which allowed him the freedom of final cut. This liberty, however, did not prevent clashes with producers, especially Charles Roven, but these conflicts inadvertently contributed to the film’s depth and uniqueness. The narrative intricacies—featuring a future criminal's journey back in time interwoven with themes of love, destiny, and haunting premonitions—demand viewers' keen attention, promising new layers of insight upon subsequent viewings.

    The cast's fortuitous composition, somewhat influenced by studio preferences, worked remarkably in the film's favor. Bruce Willis and Madeleine Stowe delivered nuanced performances that deviate from their usual roles, enriched by Brad Pitt’s unrestrained acting that contributed significantly to his rise in stardom around that time. Gilliam’s distinctive set designs create a visual narrative that resonates with his previous work, adding to the film’s allure and engrossing storytelling style. This attention to detail in both narrative and aesthetic aspects underpins "12 Monkeys’" enduring appeal, testament to Gilliam's distinctive vision and creative persistence despite production challenges.

    Despite any minor script-related criticisms regarding its depth in exploring technological and societal themes, "12 Monkeys" undoubtedly remains a compelling psychodrama that engages its audience on intellectual levels. Through its exploration of modernity, determinism, and the fluid boundary between rationality and madness, the film invites viewers into a richly chaotic vision of time and memory. Arrow Video’s 4K UHD presentation not only enhances the visual experience but underscores the film’s significance in Gilliam’s oeuvre and science fiction cinema. It’s a must-watch for enthusiasts seeking a film that challenges conventional narratives while offering a visually stunning experience.

    Total: 90

    Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys" emerges once again as a compelling cinematic journey, more relevant and haunting in its narrative than ever before. This cult sci-fi classic, known for its intricate storytelling and unyielding grip on reality's more sinister aspects, benefits immensely from Arrow Video's leap into 4K UHD. The meticulous restoration results in a native 4K image that strikes a delicate balance between detail and filmic authenticity. Colors are vivid yet natural, black levels deep without swallowing detail, and whites that manage to be strong without overpowering. The film's grain structure is preserved, enhancing its cinematic quality while a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track envelops the viewer in its complex world. Additionally, Arrow has wisely carried over all previously available supplements to this release, with notable extras such as "The Hamster Factor" documentary, truly augmenting the viewing experience.

    Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt deliver some of their most memorable performances here, elevating Gilliam’s vision of a dystopian future to unprecedented heights. Despite a notable video error, the Dolby Vision HDR presentation is almost reference quality, showcasing the technical prowess of Arrow Video's restoration team. The inclusion of a fan-friendly supplemental package and a collectible booklet only make this 4K UHD edition more appealing. While Arrow continues its practice of not bundling the 4K UHD releases with their 1080p counterparts, the quality of this release largely compensates for any perceived shortcomings.

    In conclusion, while "12 Monkeys" in its 4K UHD iteration by Arrow Video may not capture perfection in a seamless manner—owing partly to a significant video imperfection—the overall package remains remarkably close to ideal. Its visual presentation breathes new life into Gilliam’s masterpiece, complemented by stellar audio and enriching extras. Whether you're a long-time admirer or a newcomer to this prophetic narrative, this release reaffirms "12 Monkeys" as an essential inclusion in any 4K library. Despite slight reservations, it comes with a strong recommendation for those ready to dive back into its disturbed yet mesmerizing world.